Review: Murder by the Minster – by Helen Cox

It’s a perfectly normal day for Kitt Hartley at her job at the University of the Vale of York library, until Detective Inspector Halloran arrives at her desk to tell her that her best friend, Evie Bowes, is under suspicion of murder. Evie’s ex-boyfriend Owen has been found dead – with a fountain pen stabbed through his heart – and all the evidence points to her.

Kitt knows there is no way Evie could murder anyone – let alone Owen, who she adored. Horrified that the police could have got it so wrong, Kitt decides there’s only one thing to do: she’s going to investigate Owen’s murder herself. She’s read hundreds of mystery novels – how hard can it be?

Having worked in public libraries for nearly 20 years I was intreagued to read this book that has a librarian as its main character. Kitt works in a university rather than public library but I think Helen Cox captured the feel of a library and its eclectic mix of customers well.

Kitt was maybe a little over the top with her literary call backs but it did fit with her character. I loved Grace, Kitt’s assistant who would happily spend hours digging round on the internet following clues, without falling into the trap of being written as a computer genius.

The book did require some suspension of disbelief at how ingrained in the investigation Detective Halloran allowed a previous suspect to become, not to mention the burgeoning romance between Halloran and Kitt. However I was happy to do so as I enjoyed the story.

The crime element of the book was well done. The case was interesting and the culprit not immediately obvious (although I did work out some of it before the reveal). With some light description of the crime scenes, but nothing truly graphic I’d say this novel falls more towards the M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin) end of the crime genre than the Val McDermid one.

All in all an entertaining read, and I’ll certainly check in with Kitt if she makes another outing.

With thanks to Quercus books for a copy in exchange for honest review. Murder by the Minster is available now.

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