Murder at an English Pub by Alice CastleMurder at an English Pub by Alice Castle
Narrator: Jilly Bond
Series: Sarah Vane Mysteries #1
Published by Bookouture on July 3, 2024
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 15 mins
Pages: 317
Format: Audiobook
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When retired doctor Sarah Vane moves to Merstairs, she has no idea that the quaint seaside town isn’t quite as friendly it seems, and something sinister is bubbling under the picturesque surface…

Recently widowed and looking for a fresh start away from city life, Sarah Vane moves into a lovely little cottage by the sea. The rustic charm is everything she hoped it would be, but her new home doesn’t quite have enough space for her things. Her old friend Daphne offers to store Sarah’s boxes in her messy beach hut, but while clearing it out, they are shocked to find a heavy trunk… containing a dead body.

They immediately recognise the poor man as pub landlord Gus Trubshaw. Sarah concludes that he was suffocated, but who could have wanted jolly Gus dead? Unimpressed by the police’s lack of interest, Sarah realises she will have to solve the case herself.

Soon, Sarah discovers that not everyone loved Gus as much as she’d thought. Could the killer be scoutmaster Bill, who was recently banned from the pub? Or perhaps it was antique store owner, Charles, who owned the beach hut before Daphne? Or was it brewery director Mr. Grimes, who was livid with Gus for squeezing him on the purchase price of his delicious ale?

Just when the clues are starting to fall into place, the prime suspect is found strangled on the beach. And when Sarah discovers a deadly secret that links the two murders, she’s certain that a dangerous killer is roaming the streets of Merstairs. With the town in a panic, time is ticking for Sarah. Will she solve the mystery before it’s last orders for another victim?

Following the death of her husband, recently retired doctor, Sarah Vane, has moved next door to her best friend, Daphne, in the small town of Merstairs on the Kent coast. The two women have been friends since their schooldays, and both are delighted with the new arrangement. Daphne has recently purchased a beach hut and offers to let Sarah store some boxes there, but first it needs cleaned out a bit. While the two are working on it, they discover a body in a trunk, clearly murdered. Turns out the dead man was a mostly well-liked local bar owner. Sarah, of course, decides she has to snoop around. I’ll grant you the cops don’t seem incredibly competent, but Sarah barely knows the people in town aside from Daphne who isn’t a real suspect. I felt her reasons for jumping headlong into the investigation seemed a little weak.

The small town setting with quirky characters is a cozy mystery staple, but it was nicely done here. The town was described so well, with the breeze from the sea and the quaint cottages. The townspeople are an assorted lot and Sarah has a bit of a tendency to look down her nose at them. Daphne is a joy, but perhaps not as appreciated by Sarah or the town as she should be. We even have pets. Sarah has a Scottie called Hamish. Daphne has a massive orange cat called Mephisto, and another character has a Chihuahua called Tinkerbell.

The mystery itself was fine. Sarah jumps to conclusions a bit quickly but usually reevaluates before making a total fool of herself. In the end, she gets to the solution.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a good job. She differentiated the characters well and dealt nicely with the few spots where we get to hear Hamish’ thoughts. Hopefully, she will also narrate the next in the series.

About Alice Castle

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her latest cozy mystery, set in fictional seaside town Merstairs, stars retired GP Sarah Vane. It will be published in July by Bookouture, who also publish Alice’s nine-book Beth Haldane Mysteries series set in south east London. Alice also writes psychological thrillers for HQDigital as A.M. Castle.

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