Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review-- Murder in Steeple Martin

Title: Murder in Steeple Martin
Author: Lesley Cookman
ISBN: 9781905170159/ Accent Press, 2006
Genre: #1 in the Libby Sarjeant cozy mystery series
Rating: C+

First Line: Libby sat on a plastic chair in the middle of what would be the auditorium of the Oast House Theatre and considered mass murder.

Ex-actress Libby Sarjeant has left London life for a cottage in a small village in Kent where she can be the director of the Oast House Theatre. Opening night isn't far away, and everything is still in a muddle when strange accidents begin occurring in the theatre. Libby ignores it all to the best of her ability until the leading lady is found murdered. It seems that someone in the village of Steeple Martin isn't pleased that the play The Hop Pickers, is based upon local fact.

Shakily, she stood up. She didn't know whether she should phone the police, which seemed rather presumptuous, and who would listen to her, anyway? Who could she tell? If this was really a detective story, she would go and confront the villain, but in real life all she would get is a denial--and there was always the possibility she was wrong--or she would be putting her head metaphorically into the lion's mouth. She always got cross when the stupid females did that.

Cookman has a flair for fun, quirky characters and dialogue that just flows across the page. She's one of the few writers I can think of who can make me feel as if I'm actually part of the conversation and not just reading through a few quotation-marked lines in order to get to the next important scene. That said, she does have to work a bit on tightening up her story. There was too much repetition, and the plot dragged in too many places. It also didn't help that the killer was rather easily guessed.

All in all, I'd say that Murder in Steeple Martin is a bit above average. Cookman has the right cast of characters, the right setting, and the ability to make the reader feel a part of the goings-on. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the series to see if she can tighten up her storyline, too!


  1. Excellent review. Liked the poll too.
    I like a story with quirky characters with well written dialogue. Perhaps I'll give it a try. Thanks.


  2. The opening sentence is certainly an attention-grabber!

  3. Super review. I love your honesty.

  4. Thanks, Wisteria! I felt that, although I had a problem or two with this one, there's more than enough there to warrant reading the second book in the series.

    Molly--It certainly is, isn't it? I have to admit that it grabbed me because I've felt like that a time or two myself!

    Thanks, Beth. Honesty is the best policy, eh?

  5. Thank you very much for a great review. The fifth in the series comes out next month - and I hope I've tightened up my story lines, too!

  6. Lesley--Thank you so much for stopping by! I've already phoned my favorite mystery bookstore to get a copy of Murder at the Laurels. I'm looking forward to seeing what Libby gets herself into the second time 'round!


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