I must admit to a certain love/hate relationship with the “cozy” mystery genre. I love them because they are typically wholesome in nature and by that I mean no graphic sexual content (if any), no foul language and very little gratuitous violence. Some will say that’s what makes them boring, Jim! Not so with me. I just want a good mystery. The hate part, though? Often they are too sugar-sweet: good friends, good neighbours, loving family members and so on. In short, “cozies” are escapist literature for many. However, I have recently come across two series that I really enjoy, J. Ivanel Johnson’s Just (e)STATE Mysteries and Alexa Bowie’s Old Manse Mysteries, which I will be reviewing here.
To date, there are now three entries in the series, and as the stories develop, so do the characters and their relationships with each other and with those in the small town of Newcastle in New Brunswick. Our main protagonist is Emma Andrews, a young professional woman who grew up in Newcastle but left for the bright lights of Toronto until her father’s passing and as the only child, she inherited the Old Manse. All of this occurred in the first book, Death Between the Walls. A second book, Death Between the Tables, quickly followed and little time passed between mysteries in the timeline.
Now, still recovering from smoke inhalation from her last adventure, Emma and her boyfriend Dave go on a river cruise with friends and several local lawyers and their wives. As the title suggests, a murder occurs onboard, so the suspects are few, but all have a motive for killing the victim, an obnoxious man when alive. Naturally, Emma, in true Nancy Drew form, begins to snoop around and ask questions, which gets her threatened. This, to the consternation of her Aunt, Mother and friends does little to dissuade her from finding out who the murderer is.
While the author (who is perhaps better known as Chuck Bowie, the author of the popular Sean Donovan: Thief for Hire not-so-cozy adventure/mysteries) sets her stories in New Brunswick, it could be any North American small town located on a river, with lots of colourful local yokels, historic places and nosy neighbours.
On her “About the Author” page, Alexa states:
Alexa writes cozy mysteries because she wants a well-written tale told that delivers a satisfying ending, and because she wants her readers to experience a warm, humorous story with a happy ending.
And she delivers!
About the Author
This is Alexa Bowie‘s third novel in the Old Manse Mysteries series, with more to follow. Alexa makes her home in New Brunswick, Canada.
- ASIN : B0BT7FZQL2
- Publisher : Independently published (Jan. 25 2023)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 232 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8374741001
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.