The Rev. Annabelle Dixon of the village of Upton St. Mary in Cornwall has a particular knack or gift. Wherever she goes, or wherever she happens to be, murder and crime rear their heads. And he position as reverend allows her access to places and minds that would otherwise be closed. People says things to a vicar they might not say to police.
Author Alison Golden has six books in the Annabelle Dixon cozy mystery series. Body the Woods is the third in the series, and Annabelle continues to find herself at odds with Detective Inspector Mike Nicholls, who has to deal with Annabelle’s way of ferreting out information from people that he and police officers can only marvel out. Not that she’s right all the time, mind you, but right often enough to make a difference in murder cases.
A young boy trips in the woods near Upton St. Mary, and what he trips over is a partially emerged skeleton, buried at least 20 years before. The body turns out to be a young woman who had gone missing and was presumed to have run off from both her sister and her boyfriend. The Rev. Annabelle is naturally nosy, and always intrigued, and she talks to people who knew the young woman.
The vicar comes across a number of unrelated mysteries in the process. Why has her housekeeper suddenly become afraid of everything? Why is Inspector Nicholls constantly in a bad mood? And why is the visiting forensic specialist from London so sad?
In Horror in the Highlands, the fifth in the series, Annabelle is off to the “northernmost islands of Scotland” to visit her brother Roger and her niece Bonnie. Roger is a widower and IT consultant, operating from this quiet, small island where he’s raising his daughter. Annabelle’s visit includes a short stint as temporary vicar of the local church, while the permanent vicar is on holiday. She’s thrilled to see her family, but, well, this is Annabelle, and things are going to happen.
A young friend of Bonnie brings a box of valuable jewelry to Annabelle for safekeeping. The box was found under a loose floorboard in an abandoned house. Then someone breaks into the church safe and steals the box. And then the body of the owner of the local pub is found murdered on the beach. The island is so small that it doesn’t even have a police officer, which allows Annabelle to investigate, under Inspector Mike Nicholls lands in a helicopter. If you haven’t read Grave in the Garage, the fourth in the series, you wouldn’t know that something has fundamentally changed in the relationship between the vicar and the policeman. They’re now holding hands and blushing. A lot.
It may be a small island that she’s visiting, but it has more crime that you can shake a stick at. And Anabelle will find herself in the thick of all of it.
Golden has three mystery and suspense series involving signature detectives. The Diana Hunter series is set in Vancouver; the series includes Hunted, Snatched, Stolen, Chopped, and Exposed. 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 minimal violence and any romantic interest will not involve graphic sex. Golden also includes recipes mentioned in the books at the end of the Anabelle Dixon stories.
Body in the Woods is a solid mystery, a bit more serious than its predecessors. Horror in the Highlands comes to its conclusion a bit abruptly, but it’s still a fun story.
Photo of St. Clement, Truro, Cornwall, by Adverse Camber via Unsplash. Used with permission.