Murder At The Castle by Lisa Cutts

Today I’m delighted to join the tour for Murder at the Castle, the brand new Belinda Penshurst mystery from Lisa Cutts. My thanks to publisher Bookouture for the advance copy and including me in the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 08 December 2021
Publisher: Bookouture

About the Book

When the star guest collapses at a wine tasting, it seems someone has a taste for murder. Fortunately, amateur sleuth Belinda Penshurst was at the event – and now she’s on the case!

Belinda Penshurst loves her home village Little Challham, and its charming, peaceful ways. So when wine critic Sadie Oppenshaw dies at a tasting Belinda organised, she immediately turns detective to uncover the poisoner…

Accompanied by retired detective Harry Powell and her boisterous Labrador Horatio, Belinda sets out to investigate the world of wine. There are scandals brewing everywhere… but do the local DIY enthusiasts have a deadly vendetta, or did Sadie’s reviews cause a resentful restaurant owner to crack?

When another of the guests at the wine tasting is found poisoned, it becomes clear the killer is only just getting started. Can Belinda crack the case and open the champagne, before the murderer catches up with her?

A charming cozy mystery, perfect for fans of M.C. Beaton, H.Y. Hanna and Emily Organ.

My Thoughts

They always said that alcohol was bad for your health. That certainly proves to be the case for celebrity wine critic Sadie Oppenshaw, whose scheduled appearance at Belinda Penshurst’s wine tasting event turns into a case of murder. Lucky for us readers as it means we get another fun, mystery and suspect filled adventure with Belinda and her lodger, and former police detective, Harry Powell. Less lucky for Belinda as the event just happens to be in the grounds of her family home, and she seems to be developing a bit of a reputation for being around whenever misfortune strikes. She’s kind of the Jessica Fletcher of Little Challham and, I must admit, I really kind of like her.

This is another brilliant mystery from Lisa Cutts, a serving of cosy crime with brilliant characters I can’t help but love and a mystery that kept me completely entertained from start to finish. As well as offering generous quantities of wine, and cheese, the author keeps us as readers topped up with a wide array of suspects, and reasons, for the ultimate demise of the revered, and often hated, Sadie Oppenshaw. It’s a heady mix of humour, suspense and misdirection that tantalises the reading taste buds and leaves us hungry for more. Well it certainly did me anyway. Looking back into Sadie’s past, as well as her present, to try and determine a motive, Belinda and Harry are faced with no end of reasons why she may have been targeted, all of which are startlingly close to home. No-one is safe from suspicion, not even the local Postie it seems, who has been delivering far more than just letters to the businesses of the village.

I do love the characters of Harry and Belinda. They have a wonderful chemistry and work together brilliantly, even if they are almost polar opposites in terms of character and background. Belinda has a quite wild past as we discovered in book one, and if you haven’t read it then you really should, whilst Harry’s had, until his arrival in Little Challham, been all about his career in the police. They perhaps shouldn’t work, but they do and whilst you can see and feel their mutual attraction, there is always something which seems to be just in the way of it moving beyond the realms of friendship. But it makes for a wonderful amount of banter and back and forth between them, the crossed wires and the misunderstandings making them an irresistible pairing and just adding to the number of reasons this book made me smile.

The setting is perfect, Lisa Cutts capturing that village mentality where everyone knows everyone, or at least they think they do. There is a sense of community in Little Challham, which makes pinpointing the villain just that little bit harder. It couldn’t possibly be one of their friends … could it? But the murders in the community make for scandalous local headlines, and plenty of gossip, played out in the story in a truly fun and engaging way, the everyday moments of village life contrasting with the shocking nature of the crimes. And as the investigation takes us, and our heroes, further afield, Lis Cutts still has great fun with her characters, and her storytelling, making for a truly charming and light hearted mystery that I simply raced through.

I don’t read a lot of cosy-crime like this as I am a woman with a darker heart, but I have loved making an exception for these books. The characters are charming and fun, the story both full of mystery and humour and the whole thing is just thoroughly entertaining. I really do look forward to seeing more of Belinda and Harry. They are a bloody fun pair to spend time with, although I’m not quite sure I’d be ready to move to a village like Little Challham any time soon. It’s seems to be as dangerous as Midsomer, and it’s residents have no end of creative ways of bringing about someone’s demise … Love it.

About the Author

Lisa Cutts is a full-time detective constable investigating murders for a living. When off duty she writes a fictitious version of her day job. She lives and works within the county of Kent with her husband and Labrador.

She is the author of the DC Nina Foster books, Never Forget and Remember, Remember. Never Forgot was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award 2013 and the winner of the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award 2014 for Best Thriller. She has also written four books in the East Rise Incident Room series, Mercy Killing, Buried Secrets, Lost Lives and Don’t Trust Him. All four centre around DI Harry Powell and his Major Crime Team battling to solve the latest murders within the county. Currently she is writing the Little Challham mysteries, cosy mysteries set in a fictional village in Kent.

She writes a monthly column, Behind the Tape, for Writing Magazine answering police procedural questions from other writers. In early 2016, she was honoured to become the Patron of Rochester Literature Festival and help establish Murderous Medway, an annual crime fiction festival packed full of amazing author panels. As well as being on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book, Lisa has twice appeared on This Morning to chat about TV crime dramas Broadchurch and Line of Duty.

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