Life with the landed gentry lands an antiques expert in even more of a muddle than the one she’s trying to escape.
Kat Stanford quit her job as star of the reality TV show Fakes & Treasures, hoping to find a quiet place to open an antiques store with her mother, Iris. She wasn't counting on Iris’ impetuous decision to buy a carriage house from the dowager Countess of Grenville, mother of the owner of Honeychurch Hall. Arriving in Little Dipperton, Devon, to help her mother settle into what sounded like a picturesque cottage, Kat finds Iris living instead in a dilapidated building with holes in the floors; antiquated fixtures; Kat’s father’s ashes in a Tupperware container; and aggressively spiteful neighbors, Eric Pugsley and his wife, the leather-clad housekeeper. Iris insists they’re trying to drive her out of the carriage house, and Kat isn’t sure that would be so bad, especially after the Honeychurch nanny, who warned her about the place, disappears. Worse yet, a conversation Kat overhears between Eric and the Earl of Grenville makes Iris’ suspicions sound uncomfortably plausible. The earl’s first wife died from what were supposedly natural causes but possibly weren’t, a 20-year-old robbery has never been solved, and mystery surrounds a pair of toy bears, not to mention the odd ghost. Kat’s even more shocked to discover that Iris has a secret identity and a closer connection to Honeychurch Hall than her daughter imagined. When she stumbles on a body in a hidden grotto, the only element missing from the well-stuffed plot is romance—a deficiency the local detective inspector just might remedy.
Dennison (Thieves!, 2011, etc.) launches a new series with a potpourri of sentimentality and suspense. It all works since the dryly self-deprecating heroine keeps herself centered in spite of the zaniness around her.