A murder in a Welsh slate mine challenges an amateur sleuth.
Canadian expat Penny Brannigan has long since become part of the community in Llanelen, where she and her harp-playing partner, Victoria Hopkirk, own a highly successful spa. Glenda Roberts, one of her customers, is organizing a St. David’s Day concert in the depths of the Llyn Dhu slate mine, where her father died. The mine, which ceased operations years ago, is run as a living history museum. When Glenda is found dead in the mine, Penny’s friend DCI Gareth Davies finds that she was struck down with a slate splitter. Victoria, concerned about all the money that must be paid out even if the concert doesn’t come off, begs Penny to take over its leadership. Glenda, whose abrasive personality won her few friends, leaves behind a small number of mourners: her mother, Doreen; her son, Peris; and her sister, Rebeccah, who runs a market stall. When Doreen dies unexpectedly in her nursing home, Penny, who’s often helped Gareth (A Small Hill to Die On, 2012, etc.), can’t resist snooping around with the help of another nursing home resident. Gareth, ever hoping to marry Penny, is always willing to hear her theories, one of which links Rebeccah and Glenda to a scheme to sell counterfeits of the spa’s hand cream and other goodies. So many people disliked Glenda that you’d think Penny and her friends would be hard-pressed to pick out the one who was willing to kill.
Actually, the mystery is easy to solve. But the tutorial on slate mining and plenty of local color make for an entertaining entry in this long-running series.