Susan Breen introduces a charming new series heroine in this poignant and absorbing cozy mystery with a bite. Maggie Dove thinks everyone in her small Westchester County community knows everyone else’s secrets. Then murder comes to town.
When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.
Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.
I’ll admit that I was a bit cautious about Maggie Dove at the beginning. For the first quarter of the book, I bordered on enjoying the book and be unconvinced by everything. But I’m glad to say the story picked up and I found I couldn’t put the book down.
For me, I think part of the problem was Maggie Dove. There is a generation gap and it’s not always easy to connect with such an elderly character. However, I found her to be charming and honest, yet strangely naive and a little bit out of the loop for someone who had spent their entire life in this small town. She assumes everyone knows everyone and then as time goes on, begins mentioning how few people she truly recognizes because they are “newcomers.”
Though I knew she didn’t murder her neighbor, I am surprised more suspicion wasn’t placed on her from the get go. After all, despite the fact he was someone everyone disliked, she had an ongoing feud with him over a tree her mother had planted when she was born. I actually sided with Maggie on this dispute. However, the man was absolutely ridiculous and had he not died so early on in the book, I would have been begging for someone to kill him off.
Now, as for the mystery to who killed her neighbor and best friend, I’ll admit I was a little confused by the perpetrator. One of the motives was plausible, but the fact that one was just a throwaway left me wondering why it was made to be such a big deal. In a way, it didn’t even make sense to involve Maggie and that’s why it took so long for me to even type up a review. This book has a lot of promise in it, but the murderer just didn’t live up to it and it was almost bad enough to ruin the book. I’m curious to find out if there will be more books about Maggie and if so, I hope there is more world building and that a stronger, more logical motive for murder is the basis for why everything happens. No more throwaways.
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.