Three years ago, Kate Hamilton's husband died on the Isle of Glenroth, Scotland. The Ohio antiques dealer hasn't been back since. But, Kate's sister-in-law, Elenor, begged her to come, saying she needed help. Kate arrives just in time for the end of the season Tartan Ball at the Glenroth House Hotel, owned by Elenor. Once she's there, Elenor is secretive and says she'll talk to her after the ball. She does show her a small antique chest, a casket, but doesn't give Kate any other time. After the ball is too late for that talk, though. Elenor is dead the next day, killed in a style that replicates a two-hundred-year-old unsolved murder. Kate's left with the casket, and a recent historical novel about the island.
When Bo Duff, an island handyman, and best friend of Kate's husband, is arrested for the murder, Kate doesn't accept that he did it. She teams up with a vacationing police officer from Suffolk, Detective Inspector Tom Malloy. Kate's determined to prove Bo, who has a few disabilities, is incapable of killing anyone. Evidence mounts while romantic sparks fly between Kate and Malloy.
The characters and the setting stand out in this excellent debut. Kate and Tom are mature, relatable characters. Back in Ohio, Kate's mother is running the antiques shop in Kate's absence. The relationship between the mother and daughter, the trust and understanding, is beautiful. It's also rare to see that kind of relationship when so many ones in novels are troubled.
The atmospheric setting, along with the intriguing island legends just bring the isle of Glenroth to life. The story combines a contemporary murder case with an old story of murder. The debut will appeal to readers who enjoy history, legends and an atmospheric story with a little romance. Fans of Paige Shelton's Scottish Bookshop mysteries should definitely try this debut, A Dream of Death.
Connie Berry's website is www.connieberry.com
A Dream of Death by Connie Berry. Crooked Lane Books, 2019. ISBN 9781683319870 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.