Victoria Hamilton's Merry Muffin series has an odd cast of of characters, and an unusual setting in a castle in upstate New York. The characters are all a little eccentric, but they're just so much fun that I read the latest one, Muffin but Murder, straight through
As much as Merry Wynter is learning to love the castle she inherited from her great-uncle Melvyn, she still can't afford to keep it. She's been a widow for eight years, and needs to sell the castle so she can move on. But, it will be difficult. Her best friend, Shilo, has found the man she loves, and he lives right there in Autumn Vale. Her friend and financial advisor, Pish, is having a ball handling the financial problems of the local bank. And, Merry is making other friends, the local librarian, the owner of a retirement home, and the attractive local sheriff, Virgil Grace. She's even selling some of her muffins to local businesses. But, someone is also vandalizing her car and harassing her, telling her to leave town. They just don't understand. She needs to sell the castle in order to leave town.
So, Merry and her friends decide to throw a Halloween party, inviting some of their wealthy New York acquaintances, hoping someone will see the appeal of a castle away from the city. But, a few too many people show up at the invitation-only party. Merry can't keep her eyes on everyone, and it's only when she's wrapping it up that she realizes that's a real corpse in the casket she rented. Once again, she has to call the sheriff to a crime scene at the castle.
Throw in a runaway heiress, parolees, a football team, and Merry's eccentric friends, and it's one of the most unusual casts to grace a cozy mystery. But, Muffin but Murder stands out because of the strong friendship within Merry's close-knit circle. That friendship is a warm cocoon providing a safety net for her when she misses her late husband, and when she worries about the future of the castle. Merry Wynter brought her family to the castle, a family she put together, and that's what makes this series enjoyable. There's room for readers to find a welcoming place in this world, so welcome to Muffin but Murder.
Victoria Hamilton's website is www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Muffin but Murder by Victoria Hamilton. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425258842 (paperback), 292p.
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