When Sheila Malory’s granddaughter starts riding lessons at the local riding school, Sheila is happy to have the excuse to spend time there with her friends who run the place. The affable Charlie Hamilton, former Olympic show jumper and owner of the school, and his wife Josephine seem to have bounced back from previous incurred debts and are living a charmed existence teaching the local children to ride.
But is everything quite as it seems?
When Charlie’s body is found in the stables the inhabitants of Taviscombe are left appalled and disturbed. His death is the first of a succession of unexplained sinister happenings, and with the local police at a loss, it is left to Sheila, at her most persistent, to get to the bottom of the mystery.
This is supposed to be a nice cosy mystery story, told through the eyes of Sheila Malory, who lives in the small town of Taviscombe, England.
A Time to Die is one of a series, and having not read any of the other books, I was instantly confused. This needn’t have been the case but for the appalling first thirty or so pages of this book. All it takes is a few short paragraphs to give the reader a bit of background information, establishing the protagonist and their circumstances. But all there was in this particular cosy, was incessant conversation from a quite a few unintroduced characters, and those characters talking about even more unknown characters, to completely confuse things and leave one re-reading to try and follow what and whom they were talking about. Ugh!
I kept reading in anticipation of somebody being killed off and the story picking up dramatically. Which it actually did thank goodness. And by the time a second character died, I had actually grasped who was who in this small town and was able to enjoy the story a lot more (no longer having to re-read sections and stop and start).
Something else that bugged me about this book, was that Sheila hardly did any snooping or investigating of her own. She simply seemed to be the trusted person to whom people shared their information with. While that’s quite fine to an extent, I really felt that it was just a bit too convenient that she was privy to so much relevant information regarding the mystery, instead of having to be a lot more pushy and follow her own leads.
Perhaps she did a lot more investigating in other books in the series.
While I found myself enjoying the companionship of Sheila and her best friend Rosemary, the story itself was not particularly gripping, and in terms of a “whodunnit”, very disappointing. The loose ends and unsolved questions were only tied up and answered in the last five pages, hence very anticlimactic, and left my appetite for a murder mystery completely unsatisfied.
Two out of five stars.