I have been reading (or sometimes re-reading) the first book from some of the most popular and recommended mystery series. I am trying to post at least one of these mini-reviews once every month. This month is one of the ones where I have met and exceeded my goal since this book is the second I am discussing this month!
Wendy Sand Eckel‘s Rosalie Hart Mystery Series is a relative newcomer to the Cozy Mystery site. The series so far only has two books, one from 2015 and one from 2016. Murder at Barclay Meadow begins the series with a bang, I think.
Rosalie Hart, a recently separated 40 something housewife has just moved to an old house on the Eastern Shore area of Maryland she inherited from her aunt Charlotte. The house came with some prime farmland and sits on the banks of a river near a small town. Just after settling in to the old house, Rosalie discovers the body of a student, Megan, in the marsh on the edge of the river that borders Rosalie’s property.
Rosalie begins her investigation into what happened to Megan when the Sheriff inexplicably closes his case. Rosalie, and the new friends she meets in a creative writing class, become more and more convinced that Megan was murdered as they uncover details about Megan’s life and her last few days alive. The Sheriff remains uninterested and actually tries to intimidate Rosalie into stopping her snooping. But Rosalie, in the long tradition of mystery sleuths, will not be dissuaded and she (and her friends) persevere to find the truth.
As is not unusual in modern Cozies, there is a bit of strong language in the book (not too much, just a bit) and the description of Megan’s body is probably a bit more graphic than would have been in an Agatha Christie book.
Nevertheless, Murder at Barclay Meadow has many modern Cozy features such as the small town setting, a policeman who (definitely!) needs the sleuth’s help, a small group of good friends trying to help solve the mystery, and several potential romantic interests – which in Rosalie’s case include a handsome professor and a rugged farmer/handyman. Rosalie and her friends also use the Internet, especially Facebook, a great deal both in communicating with each other and in pursuing clues about Megan’s fate.
The book also contains a good amount of non-mystery related material and especially covers Rosalie’s emotional state regarding her husband’s recently discovered infidelity and her separation from him. And, it deals somewhat extensively with Rosalie’s relationship with her daughter, Annie, who attends college away from both Rosalie and her husband. Annie, like Rosalie, is having a hard time dealing with Rosalie’s split from her husband.
The novel is a delightful introduction to Rosalie, her new home, her small town and her small group of friends. There were enough suspects to keep me (mostly) unsure until very near the end of the book. And, Rosalie and her friends are given enough detail that they could well be real people. I hope there will be many more Rosalie Hart Mysteries. I am looking forward to visiting with her and her friends again!