Death at Beresford Hall by Emma Davies

I am delighted to join the blog tour for Death at Beresford Hall by Emma Davies, the latest book in her Adam and Eve series of mysteries. I love this Shropshire set series, and have loved getting to know Adam and Fran as they get caught up in some very twisted crimes. My thanks to Publisher Bookouture for the early copy of the book via Netgalley and for including me on the tour. Here’s what the books all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 07 December 2022
Publisher: Bookouture

About the Book

Francesca Eve, chef, caterer, and baker extraordinaire, has never desired the limelight. But when she’s accepted onto the country’s favourite cooking competition, she can’t help but wonder – what would it be like to win? The one thing she’d never imagined, though, was sharing the kitchen with a killer…

When Francesca Eve arrives for the Christmas special of the country’s most popular baking competition, she knows she’s out of her depth. For not only is she there undercover, reluctantly investigating strange threats to Miranda Appleby, the famous presenter-come-chef, but she swiftly gets roped into competing herself when another contestant can’t cut the mustard and quits.

Cooking may be bread and butter to Fran, but under the bright lights her cranberry sauce won’t set and her mince pies burn. When the real reason she’s there ends in total failure and Miranda is found with a cake slice through the heart – ‘lights, camera, cook’ becomes ‘lights, camera, murder…’

Miranda may have looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but looks can be deceiving… From her harassed PA to the rakish producer and even the disappointed contestants, everyone on set seemingly had reason enough to want to bump her off. But who would be nuts enough to cook Miranda’s goose in such an obvious way?

As the police arrive to take over the investigation, Fran can’t help but continue her own lines of enquiry. She’s come to know the crew and contestants and can’t believe that any one of them would be guilty. But Fran must harden her heart to her new friends and focus her mind.

Someone may have thought Miranda was justifiably given her just desserts, but what Fran uncovers takes things to a whole new tier. Can Fran uncover the truth before another death occurs, and before the spirit of Christmas (cake) is ruined forever?

An utterly gripping cozy crime mystery set at a Christmas cooking competition. This is perfect for fans of Faith Martin, M.C. Beaton and The Thursday Murder Club.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy this series. It’s fresh, packed with mystery and, above all else, just great fun. Adam and Fran are two absolutely fabulous characters you cannot help enjoying spending time with, and, I can’t lie, the fact that is it set in an area very, very local to me, really adds that little something special to the stories. Yes, some of the locations are made up (with good reason), but that familiarity that comes with the overall setting and the humour and smiles that are generated from reading about Adam’s youthful enthusiasm and Fran’s down to earth and sensible approach to crime fighting make settling down with one of these books a real treat.

Death at Beresford Hall is another absolute corker. All of these mysteries have ties back to food and catering – it is Fran’s career after all, and the precursor to how the two protagonists met – but never more so than with this latest offering. For once, Fran and Adam are exactly where they are meant to be – right in the middle of a very perplexing case. TV personality and cookery competition presenter, MIranda Appleby, has been receiving some very troubling ‘gifts’ and Fran and Adam have been asked to ‘go undercover’ on the set of the Christmas episode which is being filmed in their home county to try and get to the bottom of what is going on. When events turn deadly, the amateur sleuths find themselves caught right bang in the middle of yet another murder investigation without only one problem. Everyone but one of the people involved in the production, Miranda’s assistant, Mdge, has the perfect alibi, and yet they know in their hearts that Midge cannot possibly be guilty. Or can she?

With shades of “Bake Off” this is an absolutely fabulous little mystery. There is a finite pool of suspects once again, but with each contestant and crew member providing each other with the perfect alibi, it does make things a little difficult for Fran and Adam in find out who is really guilty. Add to this the fact that Fran winds up as an unexpected contestant on the show and it falls to Adam to do some digging on his own. I love the pairing of Fran and Adam. It is so unconventional, not just because of the age gap between them, but it really does work. They bounce off of each other, and they are tuned into the mysteries in a way which feels real and believable. And with their kind and warm personalities, you can easily see them winning the confidence of others and getting to the heart of the matter.

Emma Davies has done a great job of creating the characters in this book, and capturing the essence of what we all, no doubt, imagine it is really like on the set of Bake Off. We have people it is easy to get to like, Midge being one of them, and others who are perhaps a little less palatable – the victim included. There are secrets abound around set and just where you think you have the measure of someone, the author springs a little surprise that catches you unawares, in a way that is really effective. Did I have my suspicions about the guilty party? Well, yes, but I didn’t guess everything about what happened and how. The clues are there, and if you pay attention, you’ll guess them too. But the beauty of this series is not necessarily trying to out guess Fran and Adam, but seeing just how they are going to unveil the wrongdoer and watching the mystery unfurl. I enjoy the journey every bit as much as the destination.

Despite this being a story about a TV cookery competition, for once I didn’t finish the book ravenously hungry. First time in a while for an Emma Davies book, let me tell you. But I did finish it quickly – read in one afternoon because the pacing is spot on and the mystery pitched just right. Time really does fly when you read this book, and not just for the contestants trying hard to get their delicious delicacies complete in time for judging! This is just such an enjoyable read that fans of cosy crime will eat it up (no pun intended). An absolutely perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon and far more drama than watching a Bake-off showstopper slide off its cake stand. Recommended.

About the Author

After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a forty something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.

After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband, three children, and two guinea pigs in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life. It’s a county she adores, her love of its beautiful people and landscapes providing endless inspiration for her books, and in fact the only thing that would make Shropshire more idyllic is if it were by the sea.

Pop over to her website where, amongst other things, you can read about her passion for Pringles and singing loudly in the car.

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