Murder on a Winter Afternoon by Betty RowlandsMurder on a Winter Afternoon by Betty Rowlands
Series: Melissa Craig #5
Published by Bookouture on December 18, 2018 (first published 1995 as Deadly Legacy)
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 218
Format: eBook
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A snow-covered cottage is nestled in the hills, all ready for Christmas… but inside a body lies dead upon the floor.

Melissa Craig is enjoying her first winter in the Cotswolds, taking brisk walks through the snowy fields and basking in the winter sunshine. The only thing Melissa is plotting is her Christmas shopping.

But after the unexpected death of local writer Leonora Jewell, Melissa is asked to complete Leonora’s final book. However, on her first visit to the cottage, she finds a gruesome object overlooked by the police: a metal bar covered with dried blood.

Terrified, Melissa rushes to the nearest telephone box to call the police. But by the time they reach Leonora’s cottage, the murder weapon has mysteriously vanished.

With no murder weapon, the detective in charge of the case scoffs at Melissa’s suspicions. Furious and frustrated, Melissa focuses on finishing Leonora’s novel. But as she reads Leonora’s notes for the book, she starts to wonder… did Leonora accidentally plot out her own murder?

As Melissa does some investigating of her own, she uncovers some pretty suspicious local characters. But with the police unwilling to help, can Melissa solve this vicious crime alone? By hook, by crook, or by the book, Melissa must find the killers before they strike again…

Keeping with my wintery reading theme, next up is Murder on a Winter Afternoon by Betty Rowlands. It’s also a Christmas read, kind of, since it takes place at that time of the year and two of the characters do help with the script and scenery for a Christmas show, even if it’s only mentioned once or twice. This is the 5th (or 7th depending on how you count) in the series starring Melissa Craig, but the first I’ve read and I though it worked quite well on its own.

Melissa is an author and she’s been asked to finish the last novel of her neighbor, Leonora Jewell. Leonora usually wrote family dramas, but this last one is more of a crime novel, right up Melissa’s ally. Leonora was killed, presumably by the burglars who had been making the rounds and not by the sex strangler who is making women in the area extra cautious. Of course it turns out to be neither and Melissa finds the weapon she was killed with; it had been hidden very purposefully but it disappears before the police show up. Melissa’s convinced Leonora was killed for something she found out during her research, which of course puts Melissa in danger as she is trying to follow Leonora’s thought process.

It’s a good mystery, with plenty of clues and several suspects. I like Bruce, the newspaper man who helps Melissa, he’s useful in ferreting out clues and helping Melissa get into situations that could lead to trouble. He’s a fun character. Melissa’s boyfriend is a detective, but he’s out of most of the action, sick in the hospital. Leonora’s book, Deadly Legacy, centers around shady dealings in the art world, and Melissa’s painter friend Iris is a huge help, too. I’m not sure why, but “art mysteries” tend to be some of my favorites.

I did figure out who the killer was and yelled at Melissa in my head to stop making stupid decisions, but it’s a cozy mystery. . .

Overall, it was a solid book, not outstanding, but enjoyable.

About Betty Rowlands

betty rowlands

Betty Rowlands is a popular murder & mystery author who has written both the Melissa Craig and Sukey Reynolds series of novels. She has often appeared on panels at writers’ conferences and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.


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