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Review: Murder at Barclay Meadow by Wendy Sand Eckel

Murder at Barclay MeadowA delightful cozy debut featuring Rosalie Hart—an endearing, bread-baking heroine—and a supporting cast of highly original small-town characters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Rosalie Hart’s world has been upended. After her husband confesses to an affair, she exiles herself to her late aunt’s farmhouse on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. With its fields untended and the house itself in disrepair, Barclay Meadow couldn’t be more different than the tidy D.C. suburb she used to call home. Just when Rosalie feels convinced things couldn’t get any worse, she finds a body floating in her marsh grasses. When the sheriff declares the death an accident, she becomes suspicious. The dead girl, Megan, reminds her of her own daughter, and she feels a responsibility to find out the truth.

Rosalie confides her doubts to her friends in her creative writing class, and they ask to join her investigation, beginning the search in earnest. Meanwhile, Rosalie works on restoring Barclay Meadow to its former glory—with help from the rugged Tyler Wells, a farmer who once leased the land. When Rosalie discovers her aunt’s favorite bread recipe on a yellowed index card, she begins baking, and with her deep love for nourishing others rekindled, she starts to feel alive again. But as she zeroes in on the truth about what happened to Megan, she begins getting ominous threats. Determined to get justice for Megan and protect the new home she’s begun to build for herself, Rosalie races to catch the killer in this deftly plotted and heartwarming debut perfect for fans of Jessica Beck and Carolyn Hart.

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For me, this book isn’t animated enough to be considered a cozy mystery. While there were some interesting characters, none of them were quirky and you don’t really get a lot of world building in the town. However, none of that matters because I still found that I enjoyed the book. It may ride the fence between cozy mystery and mystery, but it was still a winner in my book.

While I enjoyed the overall story, I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan of all of the Facebook posts and group messages. This forces the reader to be hyper focused in order to keep things straight and sometimes the conversations would stop and jump immediately into a random status update. I feel there needs to be a clear distinction if the author is going to continue using Facebook conversations within this series. The conversations themselves were fine, but the transitions weren’t always seamless and it can be confusing. Perhaps incorporating a division line or a bolder font choice or even italics when it’s a conversation and normal when it’s a status update. Something simple would help clear this up quickly.

As for the mystery behind poor Megan’s death, I hate to say it, but I called it from the moment the perpetrator was introduced into the story line. The only thing I wasn’t clear about was if their motive was exactly what I thought it was. The book hints a lot about it, but never comes right out and confirms it. So I suppose that is something else I hope doesn’t occur again in the next book.

Besides those two little things, one of which could just be me being nit-picky (i.e. the Facebook stuff), I really enjoyed the story and I’m planning on purchasing book two immediately. It’s not the most exciting tale, but it’s the kind of tale that draws you in slowly and keeps you invested. The pacing is decent enough and I felt the plot was thought out well and it wasn’t as obvious about who the killer is. I just happen to read and watch a lot of mysteries and I can sometimes guess it without it being from an obvious clue. I suppose you could say it was the plot course I would have chosen had I written the book. The character need some more developing, but considering this was book one of a new series, it’s actually okay to hold back with some of the details. In fact, I admired the authors restraint and refusal to just blatantly info dump every thing about the main characters.

Either way, I hope you’ll check it out for yourself and let me know what you thought!



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About Kristine

As an aspiring author, avid bookworm, fitness fanatic and dedicated mother, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I write or post about things I'm passionate about and spend my time trying to make the most of every day. Life may be a tough journey, but I have my ruby red slippers and am content on skipping along this yellow brick road until the end of the line.

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