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August 13, 2019

Death Comes to Dartmoor by Vivian Conroy @VivWrites ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

"'What on earth are you so busy with, Merula?'
Merula Merriweather shocked upright, her pencil scratching across the paper she had been completely engrossed in. She blinked as she stared at the dark chiseled features of Lord Raven Royston sitting opposite her in the coach that rattled its way along a country dirt road."

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

August 2019; Crooked Lane Books; 978-1643850092
ebook, print (320 pages); historical mystery
Vivian Conroy has had a very busy summer. Back in June, I reviewed her latest book in her 1920s Murder Will Follow series (read my review of Honeymoon with Death) and next month I have Last Pen Standing on the schedule. But today, I'm talking about Death Comes to Dartmoor, book two in her Merriweather and Royston Mystery series, which hit the shelves today. And it might be my favorite series by Conroy.

I haven't read book 1 and while the mystery from the book is heavily referenced I didn't feel like I was really missing anything. But I will be going back and reading book 1 The Butterfly Conspiracy, as I can't get enough of this couple. You may remember from my cozy mystery discussion that my favorite cozies often feature a sleuthing couple.

Merula Merriweather and Raven Royston are a great couple. They are just in the beginning stages of their relationship so it is all cute shyness and not sure if the other thinks they are more than friends.

I'm really glad I took a chance on this novel. I saw it a few times on Netgalley before I finally requested it. The beautiful cover kept catching my eye, but I don't Victorian gothic isn't really a genre I read (because of the horror elements usually found in the novels). But in the end, the cover and my love of Conroy's novels won me over and I LOVED it.

There is a spooky feel right from the start as the characters share folk legends/ghost stories during the carriage ride to Dartmoor. The spookiness continues with tales of a shipwrecking, murdering creature on the loose. A creature that the villagers believe lives in the house of Merula and Raven's host. The spookiness stays light and never crosses into horror.

The murder mystery begins almost immediately in this book which I enjoy in cozy mysteries. Merula and Raven are enjoyable characters who have many secrets, which means it will probably be several books before they truly become romantically linked. Though in the Victorian age, romantic relationships did precede at a quick pace. I also liked Bowspirt, Lord Raven's manservant, and Lamb, who I'm guessing will be a regular character as Merula's maid/companion. An unmarried couple can't be alone, let alone travel, without the lady being properly chaperoned. And there are definitely hints of further travels by Merriweather and Royston.

Like readers have come to know and love in Conroy's Murder Will Follow series, she tips her writing hat to a literary idol. In the case of Death Comes to Dartmoor, she pays tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Unlike in a lot of cozy mysteries, there isn't really any silliness in this story. But it isn't really a serious mystery either. It is a light read, and I did figure out who did it before Merula and Raven uncovered the murderer. I highly recommend this enjoyable, quick read.

Buy Death Comes to Dartmoor at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, I love the look of it, and I do like the gothic darkness (and of course horror) so I'd love this historical mix, I am sure.

    Here's my Tuesday post. Happy Tuesday, Donna!

  2. I would keep reading. I'm glad that the spookiness stays light and doesn't crosse over into horror since I don't read much horror any more.

  3. Great excerpts...and beautiful cover.

  4. This sounds like a series I'd enjoy. Thanks for sharing it.