by Rebecca Trope
Series: Lake District Mystery #1
Publication Date: August 26, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Following a personal tragedy, florist Persimmon 'Simmy' Brown has moved to the beautiful region of the Lake District to be nearer her charismatic parents. Things are going well, with her latest flower arrangements praised and Simmy content to lose herself in her work. But the peace she has found is shattered when, at the wedding of a millionaire's daughter, the bride's brother is found brutally murdered in the lake.
As the wedding florist, and one of the last people to talk to Mark Baxter alive, Simmy gradually becomes involved with the grief-ridden and angry relatives. All seem to have their fair share of secrets and scandals - an uncaring mother, a cheating father, and a husband twenty-five years older than his bride. When events take another sinister turn, Simmy becomes a prime witness and finds herself at the heart of a murder investigation. The chief suspects are the groom and his closely knit band of bachelor friends. They are all intimidating, volatile and secretive - but which one is a killer?
I picked this up at a used book shop during our aborted Christmas travels; having spent time in the Lake District, specifically, the towns of Windermere, Bowness, and Ableside that this story is set in, it appealed to me instantly.
Alas, it was no more than a drab average. The characters didn’t know what they wanted to be: the MC tells an inspector at the beginning she’s moved to Windermere after her divorce, that she was childless and insisted that there were “compensations”. By the end of the book she’s barely coping with the stillborn birth she had 2 years before. Coping and repression are likely, of course, but they aren’t part of of the narrative, so the reader is left with no grasp of this MC. The Inspector is either attractive and friendly or greasy-haired and antagonistic. The MC’s mother is supposed to be a hippy, but acts more like a criminal attorney; I never once got the impression she liked her daughter. The bride of the story is either flaky, naive and needs to be protected, or a headstrong woman who is the only one that can steer her much older husband’s life. Flip-flop.
The elements of the plot were interesting, but the plot itself wasn’t anything special. The motivation was pathetic and unbelievable, given the characters, and the murderer pretty obvious after about half-way.
The setting was what I’d hoped for, at least. My memories of the Lake District are still vivid, and I loved the area, so ‘re-visiting’ it through the book kept me picking it back up. This is the first in a series all set here, and while weak, not so bad that should I come across another one at a used book shop, I’d probably pick it up.