Alison Golden is one prolific mystery writer, with three series involving signature detectives. The Diana Hunter series is set in Vancouver. The Rev. Annabelle Dixon series is set in Cornwall. And the Inspector David Graham series is set on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. The last two are officially “cozy mysteries,” which translates as there may be a murder or two, but the violence is minimal and whatever romantic interest there is will not involve graphic sex.
In the case of Golden’s two cozy detectives, there is also a strong undercurrent of humor.
Death at the Café is a kind of prequel to the Rev. Annabelle series. It’s set in London; the recently ordained Annabelle is working at a church in the East End. While she’s enjoying it and seeing good things happen, her vicar’s soul yearns for the country village life. She also likes cake, of any type or variety.
She goes to meet an old childhood friend, Sister Mary, a nun now serving in Africa who’s in London to help raise money for her mission. As it turns out, the sister has an appointment to meet with the niece of a potential benefactor the hour before she meets Annabelle. As the niece approaches the nun’s table, she collapses. She’s dead, and it isn’t by natural causes. Annabelle will work overtime to help her friend, and they encounter another murder, stolen jewels, and good old-fashioned greed.
In Murder at the Mansion, the Rev. Annabelle is now the vicar in the Cornwall village of Upton St. Mary, driving her blue Mini Cooper around the countryside. She has a housekeeper, Philippa, who knows the new vicar likes a good cake or two but suspects she’s quietly stealing Philippa’s culinary delights. Annabelle hears rumors that a new resident from London, who’s bought the big mansion near town, is secretly scheming to open a brothel. She decides to check for herself, and while she waits for him to finish his yoga meditation, the man is killed by a crossbow.
The case is investigated by Inspector Mike Nicholls, who, in what is made clear from the outset, is a potential love interest for Annabelle, even if he doesn’t know it yet. She knows it, however. And she’s drawn into the case not solely for the purpose of finding the killer.
Both Annabelle Dixon mysteries include recipes for all the cakes and desserts featured in the stories.
A different detective, Inspector David Graham, is the main character in The Case of the Screaming Beauty. Amelia and Cliff Swansbourne operate The Lavender, a beautiful, old, and well-maintained hotel, written up in all the right travel magazines. A guest, a young and rather beautiful woman from London, is found murdered in her room, and potential suspects abound.
As Inspector Graham pursues the case, it becomes anything but straightforward. And the key to finding the murdered is wrapped into why the dead woman screamed the night before, long before she was murdered.
Each of the three mysteries is fast-paced, with clues left for the reader to consider. They are exactly what they’re written to be – fun and clean entertainment.
Golden was born and raised in Bedfordshire, England, and is now based in the San Francisco Bay area.
Top illustration: Boscastle Village in Cornwall, watercolor by Dawn Hudson via Public Domain Pictures.