Murder at Hawthorn Cottage by Betty Rowlands @bookouture #review

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage

Woooo hoooo it’s publication day for Betty Rowlands’ Murder at Hawthorn Cottage 🎉🎉

Massive thanks to Bookouture for granting my wish to receive a copy of Murder at Hawthorn Cottage through Netgalley.

The Blurb

Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective?

Melissa Craig
is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.

But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown in to the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.

Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed?

Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…

The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?

A joy to read! An absolutely unputdownable whodunnit for fans of Agatha Christie, P.D. James and Faith Martin.

This book was previously published as A Little Gentle Sleuthing.

What Did I Think?

Murder At Hawthorn Cottage is exactly what is says on the cover.  It’s a gripping cozy mystery.  I must admit, I hadn’t heard of Betty Rowlands before Bookouture announced they were republishing her Melissa Craig series. But having had a look at Fantastic Fiction, she’s written 26 novels! And she’s 95!!!! I hope I’m that capable at 95!

Saying that, there is a very nostalgic feel to the book.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was written in the late 80s/early 90s as there were no mobile phones, computers, email or internet mentioned – Mel, our heroine, writes to her agent and her son and she only has a landline for people to contact her on. But other than the communication method employed, this story fits well in the modern day – murder and secrets.

There is very much a cozy mystery feel to it.  It reminded me of the family friendly crime dramas on the TV. I half expecting DCI Tom Barnaby or Miss Marple to pop up but I knew they wouldn’t! Mel is the Gloucestershire answer to Jessica Fletcher! She’s the best selling author who manages to get herself involved in a bit of amateur sleuthing.

I loved the relationships Mel developed in her first few weeks in the village.  She gains the trust of people so easily – is this because she’s a best selling author or people just want to share with a stranger?!

Mel’s neighbour Iris is a wonderful character. In today’s world, no one would bat an eyelid at her lifestyle of vegetarianism, yoga and kitchen garden but when Ms Rowlands originally wrote this novel, she’d have then been classed as a bit of a hippie!

Ms Rowlands has encapsulated village life to a T. News travelling by the village gossip, the WI managed by the vicar’s wife. Everyone knowing everyone else, a close sometimes claustrophobic community.

This is an ideal introduction to crime fiction for anyone who wants to dip their toe into the genre. No gore, swearing, scary stuff, just a “clean” tale of murder. I’ve even recommended it to my dad!

Who Is Betty Rowlands?

Betty Rowlands burst on to the crime scene by winning the Sunday Express / Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition. Her success continued with her nine highly acclaimed Melissa Craig mysteries. She is an active member of the Crime Writers’ Association and regularly gives talks and readings and serves on panels in crime writing conventions.

You can keep up with Betty on her website:

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