Susan Breen introduces a charming series heroine in this poignant and absorbing cozy mystery with a bite. Maggie Dove thinks everyone in her small Westchester County community knows everyone else’s secrets. Then murder comes to town…
When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.
Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.
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Susan Breen’s best-selling Maggie Dove mystery series was first published by a digital imprint of Penguin Random House and in the process of being reissued in paperback by Under the Oak Press. She’s proud to have had two of her Maggie Dove stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. A new story will be in Malice Domestic’s upcoming anthology: Murder Most Diabolical (introduced by Walter Mosley.) She was also longlisted for the 2021 Margery Allingham Short Story competition. Susan’s first novel, The Fiction Class, won a Washington Irving Award from the Westchester Library Association.
Susan teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and she’s also on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference. She lives in a very pretty little village on the Hudson River with her husband, two sweet cockapoo dogs and two rather aggressive cats. Her three grown children are flourishing elsewhere.
My thoughts: Maggie Dove used to write mystery novels, and now she’s in a real life one as her neighbour has dropped dead on her front lawn. Lots of people had reasons to dislike him but did anyone dislike him enough to kill him?
Maggie’s an interesting character – suffering from grief after the deaths of her husband and daughter, she gave up writing and seems slightly stuck in place, lonely and a bit lost. She’s a kind and generous person, but has hidden anger that she’s trying to manage.
She knows that the person the police suspect is innocent, and sick of their inaction, she takes matters into her own hands. She also discovers she has more friends than she thought.
An interesting take on the detective genre – I’d be interested to see how future stories shape up with this cast of characters.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.