A Brush with Death by Fiona Leitch is the second Nosey Parker cosy mystery and the first I’ve read. Jodie Parker, ex-Metropolitan police officer, and newly single mum has returned home to Cornwall. It’s the week of Penstowan’s inaugural arts festival and Jodie, no longer working for the police, is doing the catering. The festival’s main attraction is painter Duncan Stovall, famous for his Penstowan series of sea paintings.
This is a story with instant fizz. Written in the first person, Jodie’s, I loved the sly sometimes saucy asides that pull you straight into the jokes, the personalities and the action. If it were an item of food on a menu catered by Jodie, this book would be a mash-up of a Cornish saffron bun slathered with butter and clotted cream, a mug of steaming tea and a glass of scrumpy. Cornwall is a part of the book’s DNA, not just the dialect of the Penstowan residents or the food but the wonderful descriptions of coastal scenery that make you want to get into the car and head south on the M5.
When a visiting author is found dead at the bottom of the cliffs Jodie can’t resist sticking her nose in and asking questions, much to the annoyance of DCI Nathan Withers and the irritation of Jodie’s daughter Daisy and mum Shirley.
This is a silky read, one of the best of its genre I’ve read. A brilliant community of family, friends and townspeople, a beautiful seaside setting, with a witty detective, plotted on two levels. The foundation is Jodie’s life settling into the town of her childhood, a triangular-shaped romantic entanglement, and her burgeoning new catering business. Overlaying this is the case in which she becomes entangled; the art world, not just the creation of art but the finance, promotion, sales and investment.
I particularly enjoyed the joshing with childhood friends Debbie and Tony, including lots of cultural references from the Eighties that are lightly handled without huge signposts saying ‘laugh here’.
Read it and chuckle.
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