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Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah…
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Murder at Honeychurch Hall

by Hannah Dennison

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“If you want to make God laugh, tell her you have plans,” or so the saying goes. Kat Stanford has plans. She’s quit her job as a TV host and has decided to go into business with her mom, Iris, in London. The antique store idea goes “poof” when her newly widowed mom sells her house and moves 200 miles away, out into the country. This is all a surprise to our heroine. But her mom has another bombshell – but I won’t tell you what it is, not wanting to be a spoiler.

Then there’s a murder and the local cops seem to zero in on Iris. Kat wants to help the local constabulary figure it out. In order to do that, Kat needs to delve into the secrets that surround the local aristocracy – and possibly her own family. Then there’s her own love-life. Is her boyfriend going to divorce his wife to marry Kat – or not? Kate’s leaning toward “not.”

Murder at Honeychurch Hall is a lightweight cozy mystery, nothing more, nothing less. The characters of Kat and Iris are great, and I’m guessing -- and hoping -- they have lots more adventures in store for them. ( )
  NewsieQ | May 3, 2017 |
A light, entertaining story that skirts right up to the line of farce and dances along it without ever teetering over the edge, this first in a new series reminded me a bit of Dorothy Cannel's writing style, and to anyone who has read and enjoyed those, I'd recommend giving this one a try.

Kat Stanford has just resigned as a TV personality on Fakes & Treasures and is on her way towards her dream of opening her own antiques shop with her mother. Only to find her mother has no intention of going into business with her, and has moved out to the country and bought a carriage house on an old-family estate without telling her. Kate, sure her mother has misplaced a few of her marbles, rushes out to Honeychurch Hall to badger some sense into her mom and get her back into London and back on The Plan. On her arrival, she's confronted with another shock: her mom is, in fact, a romance writer of renown; a secret she's been keeping all of Kat's life from everybody. Oh, and the carriage house is a big hot mess with holes in the roof and the floors.

The dynamic between Kate and her mother, Iris, is so refreshing; here are two women who obviously love and respect each other but do not let the other get away with anything for one moment. They bicker almost non-stop throughout the entire book. Based on my own family dynamics, it's the most realistic mother-daughter relationship I've ever seen written.

The rest of the supporting cast of characters are eccentric, yet realistic - although their antics can be a bit out there. I love Biggles! I don't normally like kids in my mysteries, but he's just adorable! Kat's boyfriend plays a part, but it's a small one and he's around just enough for me to wish him gone.

The murder takes place about halfway through the story; there's a lot of character setup, background information, and setting establishment taking place, so to me it felt natural. There's also a missing woman almost right from the start, so there is some investigating going on throughout the whole book. This wasn't a cozy where the MC decides she 'must' investigate to save someone; Kat is just trying to help out her mother, convince her to come home, and not fall through her bedroom floor. She stumbles across everything naturally in the course of everyday events and I LOVE that! There weren't any TSTL moments either.

Overall the plotting was fluid, as natural as these things can be, and really well done. I loved the way everything new and old was tied together at the end and nothing was given away before it was supposed to be.

This is a strong first in what could be a vastly entertaining series. I deducted 1/2 star for the very subjective reason that I had difficulty really connecting with the MC; I like her, but I think I need to read the next book to get to know her better.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in return for an honest review. ( )
  murderbydeath | Sep 20, 2014 |
This whodunit was quick paced and an easy read. I finished the book a lot faster than I expected and was pleasantly surprised by the conclusion. While I was kept guessing about the murderer's identify, i grew tired of the choppy dialogue. I'm hoping the dialogue improves with the next book in the series. ( )
  jmach226 | May 31, 2014 |
I loved this book! I was in the mood for funny, zany, quirky, eccentric, slightly over-the-top skullduggery (can you tell by the plethora of adjectives?), and author Hannah Dennison has delivered the goods with style and flair. The setting is a peach: a remote estate in Devon badly in need of restoration and simply stuffed to the rafters with priceless antiques. Honeychurch Hall is one of those country houses that was added to by each generation over the centuries, so secret tunnels and the like should come as no surprise. The setting adds a Gothic touch to the book that I really enjoyed.

The cast is the biggest assortment of eccentrics that you'll meet for a long time. Kat herself is the sanest of the lot-- regardless of her celebrity status-- and she helps readers stay tethered to the ground. We need the tether because the rest of the cast is bonkers. The matriarch of Honeychurch Hall rides sidesaddle, insists that her snuff box collection is disappearing, and is often seen with her 7-year-old grandson who identifies with Biggles. Almost every single estate worker comes from a long line of Honeychurch Hall servants, and they all have their (nearly) incomprehensible relationships and secrets. However, Kat's mother Iris is probably the one character who has the most astounding secrets. Kat is definitely going to have her hands full as this series progresses.

The first half of Murder at Honeychurch Hall is fast-paced, almost frantic, and I can see it leaving some readers dizzy with the introduction of several characters, the setting, the British slang, and the like. But Dennison is in her element. She has a purpose, and she is definitely having fun. The second half of the book settles down to allow readers to catch their breath, and we begin to see individual characters and their motivations in a much clearer light. It's these motivations that add a depth to the story that some may find surprising and I found to be delightful.

As much as I liked Dennison's characters, setting, and story, it is her sense of fun that captured me. Sometimes as I read a book, the way the various elements come together tell me how much the author was enjoying herself as she wrote. If Dennison had half as much fun as I think she did, I can't wait for the next book in this new series. ( )
  cathyskye | May 29, 2014 |
A great start for a new series! ( )
  nlb1050 | May 25, 2014 |
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"Former TV celebrity host Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house, on an isolated country estate, Honeychurch Hall, several hundred miles from London. When Kat arrives at the house, she discovers that Iris has yet another surprise in store. Iris has been writing in secret for years and reluctantly reveals that she's actually Krystalle Storm, the famous bestselling author of steamy bodice-rippers. The gentry upstairs and those below stairs at Honeychurch Hall regard the newcomers with suspicion and distrust. When the nanny goes missing, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead, and Iris is accused of the murder, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all and wonders if she is--indeed--guilty. Although the six hundred year old estate has endured wars, corruption and Royal favors, it's the scandals, secrets and lies of the last few decades that must remain buried at all costs. This is a delightful and traditional cozy mystery that will appeal to fans of Louise Penny and G.M. Malliet"--… (more)

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