Murder at the Gorge by Frances Evesham Murder at the Gorge by Frances Evesham
Series: Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries #7
Published by Boldwood Books on November 17, 2020
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
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three-half-stars

A joke? A prank? Or something more sinister?

When the Exham-on-Sea residents are targeted by anonymous emails containing apparently harmless nursery rhymes, no one knows whether to laugh or shudder until an unexplained death touches the town.

Libby Forest, baker, chocolatier and Exham’s very own resident private investigator, alongside her partner Max Ramshore, set out to solve the puzzle before more people die. But when Max’s ex-wife arrives on the scene, ahead of Max and Libby's long-awaited nuptials, things go from bad to worse.

With the town and their relationship under threat, Max and Libby need the help of the Exham History Society if they're going to find the nursery rhyme killer in time.

Murder at the Gorge is the seventh in a series of Exham-on-Sea Murder Mysteries set at the small English seaside town full of quirky characters, sea air and gossip.

Murder at the Gorge is number seven in the series, but the first I’ve read. It worked well as a stand-alone, but I feel like I might have been more invested in the relationship between Max and Libby and their wedding preparations if I had read the series from the beginning. Max Ramshore, a former financial advisor, and his fiancée Libby Forest, a baker and chocolate maker, have formed a private investigation agency and are sometimes called upon by the police to assist in local inquiries. They met later in life, both having been married with families before, and now are looking forward to their wedding in a few weeks’ time. Then Max gets a call from his ex-wife, who he hasn’t talked to in years. She wants his help; she thinks she’s being stalked. Of course, Max agrees to meet her at a local park and then, on his way back to his car, he finds a dead body. Turns out it’s Carys Evans. Turns out Carys was the first of several villagers to receive odd nursery rhyme e-mails. DCI Morrison is in charge of the investigation and enlists help from Max and Libby. As more and more people are targeted by “The Rhymer” and another body appears, it’s a race to find the killer before someone else gets hurt.

This is a good mystery, somewhere between a cozy and a police procedural. This story is set in a fictional coastal village in Somerset. The small-town atmosphere felt genuine, with well-drawn characters who are not above sharing gossip. The plot has several twists and multiple suspects; the key is finding how everything is connected. Overall it’s an enjoyable mystery, but for me it’s not outstanding. Maybe I would have cared more if I had followed the series from the beginning.

About Frances Evesham

One day, Frances Evesham walked on a beach in peaceful Somerset and came upon a unique nine-legged Victorian lighthouse. Her first cozy crime story, Murder at the Lighthouse, was born.

Now, she writes mystery stories: the Exham on Sea contemporary cozy crime series set in a small Somerset seaside town, and the Thatcham Hall Mysteries, 19th Century historical mystery romances set in Victorian England.

She collects poison recipes and cooks with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other, her head full of ingenious ways to dispatch her victims – in fiction, of course.

She’s been a speech therapist and a road sweeper, and worked in the criminal courts seeing crime from all points of view: victim, prosecution and defense. Spending time in the dock and the witness box alongside witnesses taught her more about motive, means and opportunity than she could ever have imagined.

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