Book Review – Mrs. Pargeter’s Plot

  • Title: Mrs. Pargeter’s Plot
  • Author: Simon Brett
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/01/2016

Mrs. Paregeter’s Plot is a very amusing British Cozy-style mystery (set in the modern day). Mrs. Pargeter is a widow whose deceased husband ran a gang of thieves and troublemakers, who also sponsored ex-thieves into more legitimate professions that were related to their life in crime (such as the ex-getaway driver who now owns his own limo service), but Mrs. Pargeter doesn’t know any of the details of her former husband’s life, nor does she know the source of her considerable income. She simply has her dead husband’s address book of people to call in case of trouble.

This book is part of a series, but it’s the only volume I’ve read – and it was a quick read. The story begins with Mrs. Pargeter traveling out to a plot of land she inherited from her husband that she is having her dream home built on. Her builder is Concrete Jacket, one of her husband’s old friends who has gone straight. Unfortunately, before he can tour the foundations with Mrs. Pargeter, he shows her his surprise: a built-in wine cellar. Which, it turns out, is occupied with a corpse. The police arrive immediately, and Mr. Jacket is arrested. Mrs. Pargeter becomes determined to prove he didn’t do it, even though the corpse, Willie Cass, had been heard threatening Mr. Jacket earlier. Mrs. Pargeter works with a PI, named Truffler Mason and her husband’s “associates” to solve the case.

But throwing a monkey in the works is “Fossilface” O’Donahue – a former member of the gang known for both his bad luck, and being, well, an idiot that caused several members of the gang to spend time in jail – O’Donahue is back. He, however, has had a jailhouse conversion, and is determined to make “restitooshun” as he calls it for Mrs. Pargeter and the entire gang. He’s also determined to show that he’s developed a sense of humor. O’Donahue’s fiercely unhelpful activities liven up this book with both humor and surprises.

Overall, Mrs. Pargeter’s Plot was a fun British cozy. It had some interesting characters (all with improbable names), a straightforward plot, and it was very short. I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to fans of the modern cozy. I’d also buy another book in the series. Enjoyable and fun!

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Book Review – Evans Above

  • Title: Evans Above
  • Author: Rhys Bowen
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/22/2015

This time this book was recommended to me by my Mom – who received the entire collection from a friend. This is a typical British Cozy-style mystery. Or, to be precise, a Welsh cozy set in Northern Wales in a small village at the foot of Mount Snowdon. Evan Evans is the local police constable, who returned to Llanfair a few years ago after training in the police in Swansea. The small village of Llanfair is home to many colorful, interesting characters, including three more Evans – known as Evans-the-milk (the dairy man), Evans-the-meat (the butcher), and Evans-the-Post (the mail carrier). So Evan Evans becomes Evans-the-law. There’s also a flirty barmaid, and a no-nonsense school teacher who both view Evan as possible husband-on-the-hoof.

Pretty quickly, a crime occurs – two hikers are found dead on the mountain. PC Evans immediately thinks it’s murder, because two dead climbers is too much of a coincidence. Sgt. Watkins initially thinks it’s simply an accident – and he’s distracted by the horrible murder of a young girl, and an escaped pedophile he thinks is to blame.

Evan investigates on his own, and nearly gets into trouble. But when the escaped pedophile is captured and confesses – everyone thinks all is well. Until there’s a third murder.

Suddenly, everyone is in a tizzy. Sgt. Watkins who has gradually come to appreciate PC Evan’s skills, begins to listen to his theories and investigation so far. Watkins’ boss comes in to solve the third murder – and downplays Watkins’ abilities, just as Watkins had downplayed and pooh-poohed Evans own abilities. But pretty quickly Evans is able to investigate, find the real killer, and solve the case.

Evans Above read like the pilot of a television series. It was fun and light, and I enjoyed it – but there was also very little depth. Still, I’d definitely read more in the series. If you like a good British Cozy style mystery, and want to explore Wales and Welsh culture, the Constable Evans Mystery series is a place to start.