cover image The Marmalade Murders: A Penny Brannigan Mystery

The Marmalade Murders: A Penny Brannigan Mystery

Elizabeth J. Duncan. Minotaur, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-10149-5

Set in Llanelen, Wales, Duncan’s middling ninth Penny Brannigan mystery (after 2017’s Murder Is for Keeps) finds Penny and Victoria Hopkirk, co-owners of Llanelen Spa, volunteering to help at the home crafts section of the town’s agricultural show. The pair are greeted by Joyce Devlin, president of the show committee, and everything goes smoothly until they realize they’re missing entries from Gaynor Lewis, president of the Welsh Women’s Guild, and their friend Florence Semple. Florence’s jam wins a first, but her marmalade and carrot cake have disappeared. When Penny looks under the home crafts table for the missing items, she discovers Gaynor’s body. Insp. Bethan Morgan may be in charge of the subsequent murder investigation, but Penny’s knowledge and insight, plus her insatiable curiosity, prove to be invaluable to the case. Another death raises the stakes. Figuring out the meaning of the missing marmalade could be the key to the mystery. Duncan’s inviting picture of life in rural Wales compensates only in part for unremarkable characters and a strained plot. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Apr.)