Canadian transplant Penny Brannigan, long settled in a Welsh village, inherits a cottage and the mystery that comes with it.
Soon after moving into the cottage schoolteacher Emma Teasdale left her, Penny is clearing things out in order to make her new home over in her own style when she discovers letters detailing Emma’s lesbian affair with talented Liverpool artist Alys Jones, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver shortly after departing the cottage in 1970. Even though her hands are full with a more urgent project—the derelict old building she and her friend Victoria Hopkirk are buying to house the new spa they plan—Penny feels compelled to investigate Alys’s death. Penny’s boyfriend DI Gareth Davies and his sergeant Bethan Morgan are willing to pitch in, along with several of Penny’s village friends. The mystery of Alys’s death is deepened by the question of what happened to her paintings. She’d been preparing for a big show in Liverpool, but only two canvases have ever surfaced, one in the cottage and another belonging to her family. As the sleuths slowly unearth clues in the long-dormant case, it looks more like murder than an accident, and a murder that may still be a dangerous business.
Duncan’s second is every bit as delightful as her debut (The Cold Light of Mourning, 2009)—a smoothly written classic English mystery right up there with the best.