Series: Melissa Craig #7
Published by Bookouture on January 24, 2019 (first published September 7, 1995 as Smiling at Death)
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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Bright mornings and brisk walks… spring has arrived in the Cotswolds. But the atmosphere is positively wintery in Upper Benbury after a series of murders shake the close-knit community.
Since her move to the country, Melissa Craig has become firmly established in village life. So, when one of the older residents fails to show up for a drinks party, Melissa goes to check on her. What she finds chills her to the bone: her dear neighbour has been murdered, and the killer has painted a hideous smile onto her face…
Melissa soon realises that the death in her village bears the same trademark as a series of recent murders in the Cotswolds. When will The Smiler strike again?
With a dangerous killer on the loose, Melissa realises she needs to solve this case quickly. But as she starts to look closely at the people around her, she realises the killer may be closer to home than she could ever have imagined. What dark secrets are the villagers of Upper Benbury hiding? And can Melissa crack this deadly case before another life is taken?
Murder at Larkfield Barn is the second of the Melissa Craig mysteries I’ve read, so while I usually avoid books with serial killers, I knew the type of book it was going to be and wasn’t too concerned. Melissa is a mystery writer with a Private Investigator boyfriend, so it’s really no wonder she gets mixed up in these mysteries.
The blurb gives you the lay-out. There’s a serial killer in the area who paints horrible smiles on the victims. But the police aren’t convinced the murder in Upper Benbury was committed by the same person, maybe it’s a copycat. It turns out that of course there’s more than one killer. And Melissa is always at just the right place at the right time to put all the clues together.
Rowland can be a little heavy-handed in this one. The foreshadowing is annoying rather than suspense-building. It’s pretty easy to guess who the killer(s) are, just based on how they’re portrayed, but the clues are solid. The main character, Melissa, her boyfriend, her neighbor Iris, are enjoyable to spend time with, but I think I liked the last one I read more than this one.
I’m on my second Betty Rowlands mystery myself. I like the slower pace of these mystery murders.
I’m glad they’re republishing them.