A mercantile rivalry turns murderous for Canadian expat Penny Brannigan.
Penny and her partner Victoria, who own a popular spa, are a bit nervous when a chain of nail and tan salons extends its reach to Llanelen, the Welsh town where they’ve long been settled. Mai Grimstead, an English-born ethnic Vietnamese married to an Englishman, is the chain owner who has recently leased, with the option to buy, Ty Brith Hall, a large estate outside town. Mai’s Birmingham-raised daughter Ashlee, 19, and her younger brother Tyler are not happy with moving so far from a proper city. Penny and a friend are out on a sketching trip when Penny’s dog finds Ashlee’s viciously beaten body. Although Mai claims that Ashlee had no boyfriends, she was pregnant. Her murder poses a difficult problem for Penny’s boyfriend, DI Gareth Davies. Penny, eager to help him, asks Victoria to pose as a housecleaner and go undercover at Ty Brith to see what she can find out. In the meantime, someone has been stealing small dogs. Penny is furious when her friend’s little terrier goes missing and adds dognapping to her investigative list. She does not realize that she is putting herself in mortal danger when what seems like a simple case of murder takes some unexpected turns.
Although its mystery isn’t the best among Duncan’s Welsh cozies (A Killer’s Christmas in Wales, 2011, etc.), this latest entry provides flashes of local color and the usual likable characters.