This nail-biting addition to Hannah Dennison's Honey Church Hall mystery series, Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall is not to be missed.
"An enjoyable, lighthearted read, just the thing to chase the blues away." M.C. Beaton
When the only copy of Ravished, Iris Stanford’s new manuscript, never arrives at her London publisher’s office, her daughter Kat investigates the tiny local village post office, where it appears the package never left the building. Iris is on tenterhooksnot only is her novel gone with the wind, but she’s deathly afraid that Muriel Jarvis, the postmistress and notorious busybody, will expose her secret identity as the bestselling romance writer Krystalle Storm. Meanwhile, Muriel has her own problems with the sudden death of her husband Fred, which has left her heavily in debt. In the spine-tingling climax, both past and present collide as Kat fights for her life and those she holds most dear, dancing once again with the dark forces lurking behind the grandeur of Honeychurch Hall.
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Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall
By Hannah Dennison
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Hannah Dennison
All rights reserved.
"Muriel!" I exclaimed. "What a lovely surprise. Come on in."
I gestured for the Little Dipperton postmistress to step inside out of the sun. Even though it wasn't quite ten in the morning, it promised to be another hot day.
Muriel's face was red. She was perspiring heavily in a black cotton dress and clutching a canvas shopping bag.
I spotted an old bicycle propped against the wall outside.
"I hope you didn't cycle in this heat," I said as I let her pass by and into the coolness of the West Gatehouse, the new home of Kat's Collectibles & Valuation Services.
Muriel looked miserable, which was hardly surprising. Her husband of nearly fifty years had died of a heart attack just two weeks before. Like many married couples in the village whose family had lived there for generations, they had known each other from birth.
Muriel took in the interior of the eighteenth-century gatehouse. It was one of an identical pair that flanked the main entrance to the Honeychurch Hall estate. The dowager countess, Lady Edith Honeychurch, had rented both out to me so I could set up my new business.
Cardboard boxes of stock ranging from antique dolls and bears to a variety of enameled boxes and Tunbridgeware, Tiffany lamps and Art Deco decorative objects, were stacked haphazardly along one wall.
"It's smaller than I expected." Muriel wrinkled her nose. "Paint."
"Yes. I just finished decorating."
The gatehouse consisted of one large living area, one and a half stories high with a gabled ceiling and two tiny dormer windows. At one point there had been a mezzanine level with a ladder that led up to a sleeping area, but the floorboards had been rotten and Edith agreed that I could take them out. A modernized galley kitchen and bathroom had been tacked on the rear back in the 1970s — judging by the décor. I planned on redoing both when I could afford it.
The place was light and airy with three bay windows that looked on to the driveway. I loved it. "It's perfect for me."
"Of course, Albert Jones used to live here. He was the gatekeeper before the Great War," Muriel went on. "His brother ..." She paused, then frowned. "No, I can't remember his name. He lived in the other one. They were a strange lot. There was this scandal —"
"I'm using the East Gatehouse for storage at the moment," I said, stopping Muriel's notorious penchant for gossip in mid-flow. "I'm just waiting for shelves and display cabinets to be installed in this gatehouse and then I'll really be in business."
Muriel cocked her head. "You're not going to get many customers coming all the way up here, though, are you? You're a bit off the beaten track."
"I don't expect to," I said. "It's by appointment only." But Muriel had hit a nerve. My original dream of Mum and me owning an antique shop in London had ended the minute she impulsively bought the Carriage House here on the Honeychurch Hall estate. I had moved past all that now and was just determined to make things work in my new life. Besides, I had fallen in love with Honeychurch Hall and the Devonshire countryside and seeing my mother so happy made me happy, too.
Gesturing to a red damask–covered Knole sofa, I said, "Take a seat. I'll make you a cup of tea, unless you'd prefer some of Mrs. Cropper's homemade lemonade?"
Muriel pulled a face. "Peggy makes it too tart. Tea will do nicely."
As I busied myself in the galley kitchen I wondered why Muriel had come — and by bicycle no less. Although the village of Little Dipperton was less than a mile and a half from the Hall, the lanes were narrow, flanked by tall hedge banks and full of hairpin bends — very dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians alike.
I brought tea in on a tray along with a plate of McVitie's chocolate digestive biscuits.
"What is wrong with your car?" I had grown used to seeing Muriel zipping around the country roads in her brand-new canary-yellow Kia.
"It was stolen," she said bluntly.
I was surprised. "From the village?"
"No. Dartmouth. In the car park at Tesco's," said Muriel. "Last Friday."
"But that's terrible."
"And what with my Fred being gone ... oh, Kat," she wailed. "I don't think I can carry on." She looked so utterly forlorn that I slipped beside her and took her hand in mine.
"It must be so hard to lose Fred," I said gently. "I know I miss my dad. You should talk to my mother about the first few weeks and how difficult it was for her."
She nodded and retrieved a lace handkerchief from a concealed pocket to dab at her eyes.
"Thank you, dear. You're very kind." Muriel gave a heavy sigh. "Forty-nine years married and never a cross word said."
Somehow I doubted that. Many a time I'd heard Muriel complain that Fred spent too much time up at the Hare & Hounds pub and at the Newton Abbot racetrack.
"It probably hasn't sunk in yet," I said. "It must feel surreal."
"It's real enough, but it looks like your father made sure Iris was well provided for, which is more than I can say for Fred. I keep looking out of my bedroom window, expecting to see him working out there in the churchyard. It was the stress of the court case that did him in, you know, but we had to do it."
"It's tough, I know."
"Fred was my life. He was a good husband."
Muriel's comments echoed my mother's about my father. Much as I had adored Dad, he had been very controlling, and yet, as we passed the one-year milestone of his death, he seemed to have evolved into a saint.
"But you should be careful. I've had a bout of shoplifting in the general store — just bits, sweeties and chocolate — that kind of thing," said Muriel, promptly changing the subject. "And what with the upcoming Skirmish and that dangerous criminal on the run —"
"That's what we locals call the re-enactment," said Muriel. "There were a series of skirmishes before the siege at Honeychurch Hall during the English Civil War."
"Ah. I didn't realize," I said.
"The old earl started the tradition — before my time of course. You've got the Roundheads and the Cavaliers — that'll be the Royalists, as we prefer to call them in these parts. They'll be setting up camp right outside your back door. You'll have a lot of strangers milling about for three whole days."
"Maybe I'll get some new customers," I said lightly.
"I hope you've got an alarm." She pointed to the windows. "And curtains. You're very exposed, and with all these strangers —"
"I'll be careful," I said. "Did you want me to value something for you today?" Over the past few weeks, I had had a slew of antique armor and weaponry to value or sell that someone had discovered in a cellar or attic. Most were reproductions.
"Oh no." Muriel opened her canvas bag and handed me a jar. "I brought you some homemade strawberry jam from Fred's last batch."
I was touched. "That's very kind. I love strawberry jam. Thank you."
We fell into an uncomfortable silence. I could sense that Muriel wanted to tell me something by the way she was playing with her lace handkerchief, but she seemed to be reluctant to speak. It also occurred to me that it was a Thursday morning and she should have been manning the post office. "Is everything alright?"
"I wanted to ask a favor, but it must be in confidence," she began. "I don't want anybody else knowing my personal business."
As she was the village busybody, I thought Muriel's comment ironic. "Of course not."
"I think his lordship is going to evict me."
"What?" I exclaimed. "Why?"
"A Jarvis has run the post office since 1828. A Jarvis has mown the churchyard since the Gunpowder Plot. A Jarvis has —"
"The post office belongs to the Honeychurch estate?" I knew that most of the cottages in the small village of Little Dipperton were tenant occupied, but I hadn't thought the post office and general store were as well.
"Every cottage with a blue door belongs to the Honeychurches," said Muriel.
"But why would Rupert evict you?" I said again. "Who would run the post office? Are you thinking of retiring?"
"Fred handled all the money," she said. "He died so suddenly and well ... he didn't leave a Will. I don't understand things like probate." She started to cry softly into her lace handkerchief.
"Do you have a solicitor?"
"Then don't worry," I said. "Let him sort it out for you."
"But I can't afford to pay his fee or my rent until he does."
"I'm sure Rupert — his lordship — would understand if you talked to him," I said.
"No. You don't know him like I do." Muriel shook her head. "You see him very differently from us in the village."
"What does Violet say?"
Muriel scowled. "We've fallen out."
"I thought you were best friends!"
Muriel snorted with contempt. "I don't want to talk about it. It's enough having to read about it in the papers."
Too late I remembered the sordid details of their disagreement over the "catastrophic pruning" of Violet's climbing roses that had made the front page in the Dipperton Deal.
There was another uncomfortable silence. I just didn't know what to say. "You mentioned a favor?"
"I want you to lend me some money," Muriel blurted out. "Not much. Just a little."
My heart sank. Dad had been a tax inspector and I knew exactly what he would have said on the matter. He would quote Polonius from Hamlet, "Neither a borrower nor lender be," and I totally agreed with him.
"It's just for a couple of weeks," Muriel said quickly. "Just to tide me over."
I knew for a fact that probate — especially when there was no Will — often took months.
"We can't have a post office with no electricity," Muriel went on. "Not that we've been cut off. Yet. My niece Bethany is holding the fort whilst I'm here. I'm training her up to take over — unless his lordship kicks me out."
"I know Bethany," I said. "She's smart."
Muriel just sat there wearing a beaten-puppy expression. "I don't know who else to ask."
It was excruciatingly awkward. I hesitated. "How much do you need?"
"A thousand pounds."
"A thousand pounds?"
"It's not as if you'd miss it." Muriel gestured to my stock. "Look at all that stuff. Just a limb from one of those dolls would fetch five hundred."
"That's hardly t-t-true," I stammered.
"And you were on the Telly for years," she said. "Everyone knows people on the Telly get paid millions of pounds."
I was so shocked at Muriel's nerve that it took me a minute to speak. "I don't know what gave you that idea," I said, forcing a smile. "I'm sorry. I can't at the moment." Or ever, I wanted to add but held my tongue.
"Oh. Then I'll be living on the streets." Muriel slumped into the sofa. "Even a hundred pounds would help."
I knew I was going to regret it, but I felt completely pushed into a corner. Without saying a word, I went over to my desk and withdrew my checkbook from the drawer. "I am willing to give you — not lend you, Muriel — three hundred pounds and that's all I can do."
"That's very kind," Muriel whispered. "I wouldn't ask if I wasn't desperate."
"But there is one condition."
Muriel regarded me with suspicion.
"You must promise to talk to Rupert this afternoon and tell him what you just told me. Is that fair?"
"Alright," she said grudgingly.
I handed Muriel the check feeling a mass of conflicting emotions — mostly resentment. Things with my new venture had been much slower than I had anticipated, and although I did have some savings, I couldn't really afford to throw away three hundred pounds.
Muriel got to her feet. "I'd better be going."
"Did you want me to run you home?" For some reason my resentment made me feel guilty. "We could put your bicycle in the back of my Golf?"
"No, thank you. I really like riding my bicycle," said Muriel. "I hope you enjoy Fred's jam."
As I saw her to the door, Muriel paused. "Dartmouth Antique Emporium is a good idea. You'll get lots of tourists coming through."
And with that, she waved a cheerful good-bye and left.
As I watched her mount her old-fashioned bicycle and put the canvas bag in the pannier, I thought of two things. First of all, that jam was the most expensive jam I had ever bought. And second, how did Muriel know that I'd been looking at renting a temporary space in Dartmouth for the summer? I hadn't even mentioned it to my mother.
At that moment my mobile rang. The caller I.D. read: "Mum."
"Hello. Speak of the devil —"
"You must come quickly!"
"Are you alright?" Not another drama, I thought. "You sound agitated."
"Eric Pugsley and I are in Cromwell Meadows —"
"You're with Eric? Willingly?" This was a first. Mum's relationship with her neighbor and his "disgusting" scrapyard had always been rocky. With its pyramid of tires, discarded pieces of farm machinery and the many "end-of-life" vehicles in various stages of decay that littered the far end of the field I couldn't say I blamed her. It really was an eyesore. Fortunately, the view was only noticeable from Mum's upstairs office.
"Now, before you jump to conclusions, Katherine, I want to make it clear that this had nothing to do with me."
A familiar sense of dread began to pool in the pit of my stomach. "Do I have to sit down to hear this?"
"Of course not. It's so exciting," Mum trilled. "Eric's dug up a body."CHAPTER 2
"Eric was digging a trench for a sewer line," said Mum. "He came screaming to the back door in a terrible state — quite hysterical. He's gone to fetch his lordship."
"It's not a body; it's a skeleton, Mother," I said as we peered into a muddy hole. All I could see was the metal top of what looked like a lobster-tailed pot helmet and the upper half of a skull protruding from a thick layer of sludge. "You had me worried for a moment."
"Her ladyship wasn't lying when she said that Cromwell Meadows was riddled with the bodies of the fallen," my mother went on. "Did you know that two hundred thousand people died in the English Civil War?"
"And the whole population of England was only five million at the time."
Suddenly the morning didn't seem so bright. With the smell of summer in the air, hedgerows flush with the frothy white blossoms of hawthorn and blackthorn, purple dog violets, wood sorrel and golden saxifrage it was hard to imagine that we were standing on the site that saw so much death in the battle to save Honeychurch Hall over 350 years ago.
"And to think he might have lain there for a few more centuries if that monstrosity hadn't collapsed." My mother gestured to what was left of Eric's battered old caravan that he had been using as an office. "I'll be glad to see the back of that."
For the past three days Eric had been cutting up the old van with an axe and a chainsaw. Now all that remained were the fruits of his labor in an ugly pile and an iron chassis that resembled a beached whale.
"Perhaps now he'll change his mind and stick his new caravan elsewhere. Shouldn't he have to get planning permission?" Mum continued. "You can't just pick a spot and start digging out a foundation."
"Well, there's no danger of that now," I said. "The forensic anthropologist will have to cordon off the area. This place will be teeming with experts before you can blink."
"I hope it's not just a peasant from the village," Mum grumbled. "It would be very exciting if he was a key member of the family. One more for my tree."
As the unofficial historian for the six-hundred-year-old Honeychurch clan, my mother had become increasingly obsessed with its lineage. She was determined to be one hundred percent accurate. At first, the fifteenth Earl of Grenville, Lord Rupert Honeychurch, had found her constant questions irritating. But as the months marched on, Mum's enthusiasm for tracing his ancestors had infected him, too.
"I think that's highly unlikely," I said. "For a start, the Honeychurches were Royalists and fought for King Charles. They wouldn't wear lobster-tailed pot helmets. Roundheads wore those. And secondly, aren't the Honeychurches all buried in the family mausoleum at St. Mary's church?"
"Oh. Good point."
"It might not even be a soldier."
"Because I don't think that is a seventeenth-century helmet."
There was something odd about the smoothness of the crown. The skull of the lobster-tailed pot helmet was often fluted. Generally, they were made in two sections joined by a raised comb that ran from front to back. Although this did have a nasal bar, it was so wide that it would have impaired the wearer's vision.
As I studied the peculiar iron framework I realized I just had to know if my hunch was right.
Eric had conveniently left behind a handful of tools, including a bucket to scoop out the water.
I grabbed it and crouched down at the edge. "Hold on to my hand," I said.
"What on earth are you doing?" Mum exclaimed. "You'll get filthy for your meeting this morning. You're even wearing a skirt for a change."
Excerpted from Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison. Copyright © 2017 Hannah Dennison. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Set in North Devon, England we encounter Kat Stanford as she is trying to establish her new antique business. She is quickly pulled into the antics of her mother Iris and Uncle Alfred. What appears to be an initial mystery of an uncovered skeleton turns into a manuscript not being sent in to a robbery and then another murder. This all happens while the town is trying to prepare for the Skirmish festivities. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspects of the book. This includes the research on the family history to the details on the family portraits as well as the church. I also appreciate the amount of work it takes to properly put on the Skirmish. While a quick read, at times I was struggling with which plotline was the mystery that was being solved, or if one was being solved at all. The author did a nice job in the end to tie everything together, which was no small task with so many moving pieces. This is the fourth book in the series, and the first one that I read. While I was able to read this book as a standalone, I think I would have picked up on some of the references much faster if I had read the others first.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. This book was such a refreshing escape from my world, it really kept me on my toes. I love the characters and there are lots of twists and turns. The author has a wonderful way of mixing up history and current times. It was fun trying to figure out what happened years ago while guessing what is going on currently as well. While this book made me laugh, it also had me thinking about how people let each other down so much and that secrets can only stay secret for so long. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, wants to escape to the English countryside, or dabbles in history themed books.
Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison was a great first read for me. I had never heard of the Honeychurch Hall mysteries until I had read this book. I am not normally a reader of British mysteries, as they tend to bore me. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this one as much as I did. The character personalities worked well with each other, and the story just seemed to work itself out. While I did have an inkling of who the culprit was before the book was over, I like how Dennison expertly wove all the details together to make it work. There was a lot of stuff going on in this book, and I guess not having read the previous books in the series made it that much more challenging to figure everything out. I had a hard time figuring out the different characters and who belonged with whom, but eventually I figured it all out and just enjoyed the story. I couldn’t put it down after I started reading it. It was a very fast paced book and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next. I liked that the chapters flowed together and didn’t jump all over the place, like chapters from the past and then on to the future. Dennison has created a series of books that I will most definitely be going back to read.
A Multi-Faceted Plot Makes for an Enjoyable Cozy Mystery in the English Countryside Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison is the newest release in what has become one of my favorite cozy mystery series. Kat and her mother, Iris (a secret romance author) find themselves embroiled once again in a murder mystery. The wonderful setting of Honeychurch Hall is one of the best parts of this series. Ms. Dennison does an incredible job of really transporting the reader there. I felt spirited away to Honeychurch Hall as soon as I started reading. I love these characters. Kat is smart and it is enjoyable to watch her work out the mystery. I think it's such a fun element to the story that Iris has a 'secret identity'. The story was fast-paced and built to an awesome ending. If you like cozies set in England, with fun, quirky characters and a well-plotted mystery, you will adore this book. With a multi-faceted plot, combining skeletal remains, missing items, and of course, murder, Ms. Dennison has once again weaved a cozy mystery that kept me reading page after page to find out whodunnit. I already cannot wait for my next visit to Honeychurch Hall. I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I am voluntarily sharing my honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.
Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison I admit that, when I first started this book, I didn’t think I was going to like it. Besides not being too familiar with British royal terms, it seemed that too many characters appeared in the first few pages. I’m glad that I kept going, though; as I got used to the titles I got to know the characters. They are a lot of fun; quirky and amusing. The story was interesting, especially because the author kept me guessing about what the mystery was going to be. There were a lot of things happening and I kept trying to figure out how they all tied together. There are many different elements to this book – mystery, of course, a missing manuscript, a skeleton, death, ghosts (maybe) and hidden identities, with a couple of romantic interests thrown in. The main character, Kat Stanford, a former TV host, has recently moved to town and quickly becomes everyone’s go-to person to fix their messes. Unlike a lot of whodunits, Kat doesn’t spend all of her time trying to solve the mysteries. The clues go to her as she tries to unravel everyone else’s problems. The author does a good job of describing the setting. Set in a small English village, Little Dipperton, with a lot of the action taking place on the Honeychurch Hall estate, she conveys the atmosphere of English country life. I would definitely read more books in this series and by this author.
I have read one other book in this series and that one had me trying so hard to picture the area and to keep the characters straight. With this book, I had no problem with either thing. I really enjoyed this one. I think you could get into it easily even if you haven't read the others in the series. The characters are quite interesting. The Honeychurch and Carew families go way back, hundreds of years. Part of this mystery is the skeleton that was dug up and who could it be. The answer is found. But that is not the only mystery in this story. Yes, I recommend this book. I look forward to the next book in the series.
This was another good book to add to this fun series. I like how the author puts plenty of twists in this story. For me it makes the book read even quicker. Just when I thought I might have it all figured out another suspect or twist would pop up. I also enjoyed reading about the family's history - it was an added bonus for me. Wouldn't it be fun to go to the Civil War reenactment with this cast of characters. The author's descriptions of the setting were done well. I felt as if I was a part of this story. I am looking forward to the next book in this series to see what Iris and Kat get involved in next.
Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall is the first book in this series that I've read and I really enjoyed it. From the country village setting to the interesting cast of characters, I was entertained from the beginning to the end. You'll want a cup of tea and an English biscuit while you sit down to read this one.
The story follows Kat and her mother Iris as a lot of drama unfolds in the village they are living in now. This was my first read in the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series. It was a little hard for me in the beginning to understand the characters and the setting and why Kat and Iris are where they are now since I hadn't read the other books in the series. However, this can be a good thing for readers that have followed the series from the beginning, but as someone who hasn’t read the first three books, it was very difficult for me. Once I got a few chapters in, I was able to follow the story a lot easier. It seemed that anything and everything that could happen, did. Because there was so much drama going on, and different events happening, the book really picked up speed. I had to know what was going on and who was behind it all. It was not at all who I expected it to be. I would definitely recommend this book to others. I did really enjoy this book even without the background knowledge. It will be interesting to see where the series goes from here!
There is an old saying that you can’t tell a book by its cover. Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall has a gorgeous cover. Yes, there is a skull – but the colors of the gardens and the pup, Mr. Chips, invite a potential reader to look inside. In this case, one “can” tell a book by its cover – and the inside is even more vibrant, whimsical, and suspenseful than the cover. In this fourth novel of the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series, the reader is swept up in a whirlwind of fibers from each life in the village being intrinsically entwined. It can be read as a standalone with one suggestion: the reader will urgently wish to read the earlier ones as much as I do! There is a delightful combination of history and humor amidst death, theft, and disreputable characters. People are definitely not who they seem to be! It is fascinating to read the historical aspect of this beautiful country with many, many centuries of known history and architecture. There is little doubt in the mind of someone who knows his family history the identity of the unfortunate woman is whose centuries-old skeletal remains were found. It is the murder of a woman who everyone knew that is of concern, as the killer lives or is visiting among the Honeychurch family’s domain. Theft of a valuable manuscript, a large amount of cash, and jewelry are among the lesser crimes. Kat is one of my favorite people, possibly because the reader is given the gift of knowing her best. She is intelligent, hardworking, and private. I wanted to like Iris and a few other locals better, but they enjoyed storytelling (aka little or big white lies) too much. After all, Iris is a gifted author (who won’t type manuscripts on a computer) and seamstress, making beautiful gowns and costumes for the skirmish. Even so, Kat loves her mum, the good and the frustrating. She keeps her flat in London, even though she now is content with life at Honeychurch Hall where she rents Jane’s Cottage and her mother rents the Carriage House. The Honeychurch family can be traced back over 900 years, and Iris now has opportunity to go through the actual Parish records to see the records of births, deaths, and marriages of souls for more than 500 years. The plot has many layers, not only the old skeleton found, or Muriel’s murder, or thefts, or even what Kat feels is the ghost of the woman whose remains were found. Honeychurch Hall amazes me, including logistics of an annual ‘skirmish’ (re-enactment) of England’s civil war and the vast holdings with so many residences. We see a snapshot of those living in one small corner of England for a few days with in-depth photos of some individuals. Throughout, one sees the author’s talent for injecting humor into any situation, such as within family dynamics or when Iris ‘helped’ Lady Lavinia with her painful recovery from a riding accident. Kat is the kind of friend I would want ‘investigating’ if I were falsely accused! I was surprised at who “wasn’t” a bad guy/ gal, and in some cases, who was. The end is very satisfying with all the loose ends tied which is no small fete in this busy village! I highly recommend this to those who appreciate challenging cozy mysteries that include the rich history of England, the human-ness of people, strong protagonists, and the gift to find lots of laughs in any circumstance. I received a copy of this book from the Cozy Mystery Book Review Crew and the author. The review is my own opinion.
Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall is my favorite of the series so far. I enjoy my visits back to Honeychurch Hall to see what kind of mischief befalls Kat Stanford and her mother, Iris, and this book does not disappoint. I was taken in from the very beginning and found this book very hard to put down. The characters are so well developed now, you feel like part of their family, and new characters are introduced as well, and it is left to us to find out if they are who they say they are, and what secrets they might be hiding. This book takes place during the hectic planning stages of The Skirmish, which is an annual reenactment of the battle between Cromwell's Roundheads and the Royalists who backed King Charles I, that took place near Honeychurch Hall, with the Carew Family supporting the Roundheads, and the Grenville Family the Royalists. Both families take this reenactment very seriously, and tensions mount between the two of them. When Iris and Eric discover a body that appears to be from that time period, the book just takes off, with Kat definitely in her element. I really liked the mystery of Lady Eleanor and the bit of the supernatural it brings to the story, as well as the question of what happened to Iris' latest Krystalle Storm manuscript. I have read all the books in this series, but this book could definitely stand on it's own -- you are not left in the dark about past goings on. I found myself laughing at Iris and Albert's hijinks, as well as those of the wonderful Harry and his friend Max. I very highly recommend this book, and know you will love it as much as I did. I'm really looking forward to Kat's next adventure at Honeychurch Hall. I voluntarily received a copy of this book, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
H Dennison's Murder and Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall Welcome back to Honeychurch Hall located outside of Little Dipperton Devon. " Skirmish Day " is in the planning there. It is a reenactment celebrating a battle fought in the English Civil War held annually While preparing for the event, a skeleton that is centuries old is found along with a helmet and dagger. She had been murdered. Whose skeleton could it be? Why was she buried on Honeychurch Hall grounds in an unmarked grave? What could happen next ?? How about a missing manuscript, a missing tin with money for the reenactment, stolen cars, a nosy postmistress, a frumpy tea shop owner, new suspicious women to the area, a doll, escaped convicts, affairs, secrets from the past and present, a current murder, mischievous young boys, a crypt, a graveyard, a flamboyant lothario, a posh restaurant plus a centuries old ghost for starters!!! Feisty, colorful, well described characters involved in a well written plot. There are many twists and turns which peak the readers interest. Add humor, romance along with the historical setting for an enjoyable read. This is the fourth book in the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series. The book can be read as a stand alone. Great read!!! I volunteered to read this book. Thanks to the author via Facebook’s Cozy Mystery Review for the book. My opinion is my own.
“Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall” is the 4th book in the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series by Hannah Dennison. It is the first one in the series that I have read. I think I would have been able to give this book 5 stars had I read the others in the series. It can be read as a standalone or out of series, but I feel from how reading it was to me that it would be better enjoyed if read in order so you can get all the back stories. That said I really did enjoy the storyline and mystery. I just felt a bit disjointed from some of the characters. I will have to go back and read the other books so I can truly relate to them. This is a fun book and has enjoyable characters and I think any reader who enjoys books in this genre will be entertained. The protagonist is Kat Stanford who is opening an antique shop and is the former host of televised Fakes and Treasures. She lives near her mother Iris Stanford who writes a wildly successful romance series under a pen name. Only a few people know this tidbit. In this novel their small town is preparing for the annual Skirmish, which is based on the siege of Honeychurch Hall during the English Civil War. Maybe Kat will get more traffic with the visitors for this event. Before it can happen though several things occur. One is a body is found on the historical property. It may have a historical bearing on the families of the hall. There are a lot of characters in this book and it overwhelmed me a bit since I did not have the back stories of them. Not so much that I was not able to follow though. I have to say that I really enjoyed the historical body storyline. It had so many aspects. Now not only are the characters in this novel dealing with the skirmish and the centuries old body, but Iris’ manuscript is missing, the funds for the event are missing, strange sightings in the graveyard are reported and a few other things as well. Iris is suspicious of a few citizens including the gossipy mail lady. Lucky for Iris her “brother” is home from prison (another secret) and he is going to do some investigating. Unfortunately for all of them, he finds said gossip dead. Things really ratchet up at that point. Missteps, mishaps and of course mayhem ensue. “Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall” is a wonderful cozy in the vein of some of the wonderful English based novels of this genre. I wish I had read them in order so this one would have been more comfortable and familiar. I think that would definitely have brought this to a 5 star read for me. Even so I was able to thoroughly enjoy the characters (a lot of them to get to know), the mysteries (a few thrown in for good measure) and the writing style (flowing and enjoyable). The protagonist is smart, but seemed to need something more, a confidant, partner, dear friend, something. I am going to go back and read the others in this series because it is most assuredly worth the read and I want to know more and more about the stories and characters. Iris is a hoot and I would love to get to know her better. If you enjoy English cozies you will like this one for sure. I was provided a copy to read.
I loved Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall. It is the fourth in a series, and normally, I like to read the books in order so I do not miss anything. However, in the case of this book, I did not feel I missed anything. Moreover, I loved it so much I bought the other books in the series. This is the quintessential modern cozy, set in a small village in Devon, England. The main character, Kat Stanford, is an authority on antiques and has opened her own antiques shop, Kat's Collectibles & Valuation Services in one of the gatehouses at Honeychurch Hall. Kat is a bit of a celebrity, having previously been the host of an, "Antiques Roadshow" type television show. She is trying not to loan an outrageous amount of money to the local postmistress when Kat's mother calls to tell her that her mother's neighbor found a body while digging a trench. All in the first chapter. Kat manages to solve the murder, along with several other mysteries, all while the town is organizing a re-enactment of the English civil war between the Royalists and the Cromwellians. The book is well written, and the plot moved briskly with the murderer not being obvious. My favorite part of the book, and what made me want all the books in the series, were the characters. They are just all quirky. There is Kat's mother, Iris, the closet Romance novelist who is trying to keep her writing a secret from everyone but has not quite figured out the benefits of a computer. There is the Honeychurch family, Lady Lavinia Honeychurch, the flighty and lady of the manor, who is married to Lord Rupert Honeychurch, the lord of the manor with a wandering eye, and their son, Harry, who pretends he is James Bigglesworth, a World War 1 Flying Ace complete with leather helmet and white scarf, just to name a few. The characters just make the book. I know most cozy readers are always on the lookout for a new series. If you have not tried this one, I highly recommend it. However, if you are just looking for a fun read, Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Halll will work for that, too.
This is the second book of Hannah Dennison but the fourth in this series. I read the first book Murder at Honeychurch Hall and really enjoyed it. It was nice to get to read another book in the series and read about some familiar characters. Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall is a good whodunnit with twists and turns and new characters and suspects added to keep one interested. I especially liked learning new historical facts. I won't mention what they were, so you will need to read the book to find out what they are, but it made me do some research on the facts to know more about it and why it was necessary for book. I look forward in reading the second and third book of series. I highly recommend this series for a quick and enjoyable read.
This is the first book in the Honeychurch Hall series that I have read. While I initially had a bit of difficulty finding the “rhythm” of the book, I found that ended up enjoying both the characters and the storyline very much. I will be going back and reading the prior books in the series to get more background on Kat and the remaining characters. I feel that had I read the prior books I would have been able to jump into this story right from page one. The characters are well developed, the writing is smooth and descriptive, and there is a wonderful combination of humor and intrigue throughout the book. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
This may be book four in the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series, but it was my introduction to this fun series. when I received an ARC to review. I certainly didn’t feel like not having read the first three ruined it for me either…though I’ll soon be reading the others in the series as well. Kat Stanford, a former TV antique appraiser, has left the limelight of London for the English countryside and moved to a small home on Honeychurch Hall estate to start a new life and business. Kat and her Mother, Iris, the romance novelist with a nome de plume, along with her Uncle Alfred, and ex-con, make an interesting family, but they’re a lovable one at that. Life in the country certainly isn’t quiet or uneventful when a body is discovered on the Honeychurch Hall estate, Iris’ latest manuscript goes missing only to be discovered, a slew of missing items from the villages of Little Dipperton, two missing little boys, and the local post mistress turns up dead. Kat is a character that is easy to relate to, and Iris is the crazy Mum we all think we have at times, though she irks me a bit from time to time. All in all, the story was fun, kept moving and even taught me a few things about history that I hadn’t known before. I can’t wait to visit Little Dipperton and the Carew and Honeychurch families again.
Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison is the fourth book in A Honeychurch Hall Mystery series. In Little Dipperton, in the Devonshire countryside, the town is getting ready for the annual “Skirmish” which is the re-enactment of battles around Honeychurch Hall during the English Civil War (between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers). Kat is readying the West Gatehouse for Kat’s Collectibles and Valuation Services when Muriel Jarvis pays a call. She is having money troubles since the recent death of her husband and needs a loan. Muriel is the local postmistress and the nosiest woman in town. After dealing with Muriel, Kat is called away by her mother, Iris. Eric Pugsley discovered a skull in the ground while demolishing his old caravan (which was an eyesore). A dagger with the Honeychurch crest is found stabbed in the victim’s ribs and a torture device on her head. It is a very old crime, but D.I. Shawn Cropper shoos everyone away from the scene. Iris is busy creating costumes for the Honeychurch family for the Skirmish when she receives a call from her editor. Her latest manuscript for the Star-Crossed Lover series has failed to arrive at her publisher. Iris creates her novels on a typewriter and that was the only copy (she failed to make a copy). Iris mailed the package from Little Dipperton (you can see where this is heading) and tracking shows the item never left the post office. If Muriel opened the package, Iris’ secret life as Krystalle Storm will be revealed. The manuscript is not the only item missing from around town. Several objects have turned up missing. Just when Kat believes things cannot get worse, Muriel is found dead in her home after Albert did a reconnaissance mission for the manuscript. It looks like Albert and Iris are once again murder suspects. Then there is the little matter of Piers Carew and his sudden interest in Kat. Mayhem does not begin to describe matters in Little Dipperton. Murderous Mayhem in Honeychurch Hall is jam packed. There is one wacky incident after another. Gossip and meddling are the main sources of entertainment in the village. There are several quirky characters (Iris being the main one) and readers are introduced to some new ones (including Piers Carew who I am sure we will see more of in the next book). The setting sounds just lovely. Murderous Mayhem in Honeychurch Hall is easy to read and has a quick pace. It is a humorous type of cozy mystery that focuses more on the characters and their antics. My mother loves these types of novels (with zany capers and hilarity). I do not recommend starting the series with Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall. If you have not read any of the other novels in the series, you will be a little lost (you need to start with Murder at Honeychurch Hall). I give Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall 3 out of 5 stars. The mystery of Muriel’s murder and the string of thefts around town is easily solved. I was hoping it would be a little more complex. Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall is a madcap story that will appeal many readers.
It’s so good to be revisiting Little Dipperton and Honeychurch Hall! Back among my favorite Brits and the mischief and mayhem they so often find themselves involved in. Kat Stanford, former TV host of Fakes and Treasures, is probably the only “normal” one in this zany cast of characters. She’s left broadcasting to open her own shop on the grounds of Honeychurch Hall, where her Mum, who secretly pens racy novels, also lives. Mum’s brother, recently out of prison, assists her in her intrigues, real or imagined. After Mum, my favorite character is the young son of Lord Honeychurch, Harry, whose alter ego is Squadron Leader James Bigglesworth and who, complete with goggles and a commanding tone, leads his troops (and Kat) into action. The historical setting and modern tone of the story are nicely meshed. The village is planning “Skirmish Day” celebrating a long ago English Civil War battle. A centuries-old body is discovered on the estate, the victim of a long-ago murder. While unraveling this murder, another occurs. Toss in stolen Skirmish funds, a missing manuscript, a sexy playboy, an escaped prisoner, an affair or two and strawberry jam and you have a fun, engaging chapter in the lives of Dippertonians! This is not your usual cozy. The story is intricately woven and unpredictable. I love that this setting and the characters enchant me; the mystery is well crafted, for sure. But it’s the various scalawags and silliness that keep me wanting more! I received this book from the author for an honest review and I so look forward to the next installation!
Murderous Mayhem At Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison is once again a fun, unique, quirky, fast paced cozy that has you laughing out loud at times and wondering what is coming next. From The peculiar quirky characters that are back for another adventure to the unusual circumstances they all find themselves in to the murders this is a book that you won't want to miss. I enjoy this book because it takes you in and you find yourself getting caught up in the comings and goings of British life as well as the demographics of the Lord's and Lady's intermixed with the villagers of Little Dipperton Each person in this book has their own peculiar personality and that just adds to the fun of the book. Kat is an antique appraiser who has a knack for getting right in the middle of everything that goes on at Honeychurch Hall. Her eccentric mother Iris and unconventional uncle Albert always add a quirky, unusual element to the plot with the stories they come up with to cover there mischievous exploits. I love these two they just make the book. This story is two fold, one is the mystery when the body of a women, who seems to be an ancestor of either the Honeychurch's or the Carew's, is found accidentally and then the murders of Dipperton residents complicate the upcoming Skirmish planned at Honeychurch Hall. On top of all this Kat's mother Iris' missing manuscript pages need to be found and she is sure Muriel the postmistress has them. She sends Albert to retrieve them only to get mixed up in the murder of Muriel and becoming once again suspects in the investigation. On top of everything else someone has been stealing from the people of Little Dipperton, Lavinia thinks her husband Rupert Lord of Honeychurch is having an affair, Harry the son of Lavinia and Rupert along with his friend Max think they see a ghost in the churchyard and Kat thinks the ghost of Eleanor Honeychurch is trying to tell her something. It seems one thing after the other is happening and they all add up to a very interesting some what wacky but all together fascinating cozy mystery. I love British mysteries and this one is a mix of Downton Abby meets Midsummer Murders. You have the Dowager and her quirky family along with the village secrets and mysteries like in Midsomer Murders to be solved. Wow so much is happening and it is just plain fun and entertaining to read. I think this one was better than the last book in the series. This is the fourth book in the series but it can be read as a standalone book too. I highly recommend this book it is one you will not want to miss. I would give, in my rating system, this book 4 1/2 Bookmarks I received this book from the author for my honest opinion and review.
"Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall" is the delightful fourth installment in the Honeychurch Hall series. Once again, antiques dealer and former tv personality Kat finds herself embroiled in mystery. This time around, she has two situations to unravel: the identity and story of the skeleton found on the Hall's grounds, and what happened to her mother's missing manuscript (and an increasing number of other missing items in the area). These twin mysteries provide plenty of opportunity for Kat to dig around in the area's past, as well as to interview various members of the community. Despite the sometimes stilted nature of some of the aristocracy she encounters, Kat's adventures have plenty of humor to mix in with the tension of the mysteries she needs to solve. Dennison's writing style is truly a joy. She makes all of the characters come vividly alive for the reader, and also makes it easy to envision the beautiful country locales in which the story takes place. Her realistic and witty dialog makes the book even more enjoyable. Although this is the first installment of this series that I have read, I was easily able to figure out who everyone was. The helpful genealogy chart at the beginning was quite useful in this regard! Now that I've read this one, I definitely plan to go back and read the first three in the series to learn more about the backstories of Kat and others, and to see what sort of adventures I've missed by starting with book four! I highly recommend this series to all fans of cozy mysteries!
Murder, mayhem, theft and more are woven in an interesting and entertaining plot to keep you turning the pages. I'm so glad that I have stuck with this series as it just gets more and more interesting as you get to know the characters better. The author does a great job of weaving multiple storylines to layer the life of the villagers throughout the plot. If you are looking for an entertaining cozy mystery set in the English countryside, then this is the book and series for you!
This was my first read by this author. Will it be my last? a definite, NO! This book had just about every element a good mystery could have in it. Yes, there was history about Honeychurch Hall and two families in conflict. Some say they found this part of the book to be boring but I say without the description of the estates or history on the family's involved the story may not of come together well. Muriel, the town gossip, gets the story off to a great start when she approaches Kat for a loan, shortly after Muriel was widowed. You just know something is not right with her request or explanation as to why she needs the money. Oh then to find out she works as a postmistress and is up to no good at the post office adds additional intrigue to her motives for deceit. Yes, she is the town gossip but there is much more to the story. Everyone of the characters or inhabitants of this town have little items stolen from them. At first I thought Muriel was the culprit but the story is much more involved in the whys and whos of those missing items. Throw in love, a dead body that was brutally murdered, deceit (already noted), shoplifting, a stolen manuscript, and much more. Now you have a good book. Kat and Iris are the main characters in the book. Both live in houses on the Honeychurch estate. I do believe Kat when she moved there thought life would be more settled and relaxing. Little did she realize she would be fighting to stay alive. I, highly recommend this book. Yes, I was given a copy to read to review. However, if this book fell short of being a good read I would definitely let it be known. Five star read!