Title: Roots of Evil (Merrychurch Mysteries #2)
Author: K.C. Wells
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Genre(s): Cosy Murder Mystery, Amateur Sleuths
Page Count: 228
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 4.80 stars out of 5
Many consider Naomi Teedle the village witch. Most people avoid her except when they have need of her herbs and potions. She lives alone on the outskirts of Merrychurch, and that’s fine by everyone—old Mrs. Teedle is not the most pleasant of people. But when she is found murdered, her mouth bulging with her own herbs and roots, suddenly no one has a bad word to say about her.
Jonathon de Mountford is adjusting to life up at the manor house, but it’s not a solitary life: pub landlord Mike Tattersall sees to that. Jonathon is both horrified to learn of the recent murder and confused by the sudden reversal of public opinion. Surely someone in the village had reason to want her dead? He and Mike decide it’s time for them to step in and “help” the local police with their investigation. Only problem is, their sleuthing uncovers more than one suspect—and the list is getting longer….
Sometimes, you open a book and are just not in the right mood for it. Unconsciously you’d prefer to read another genre, or another kind of novel, or whatever. That’s what happened when I started reading “Roots of Evil”. But—and that’s what I love about reading, that’s what I love about good books—inexorably, the farther I got, the more I was drawn in. Alright, Paris weather started to become more and more autumnal, in a ghastly, cold and wet way, and there I was in the evenings, stuck beneath a cosy duvet, heating on, a glass of red wine within reach, and all of a sudden, this seemed just like the right thing to read.
This is the second novel in the “Merrychurch Mysteries”-series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel, which was a good point—I haven’t read #1 (but put it on my TBR). I won’t dwell on the plot. Suffice it to say that this is what I really would call a perfect cosy murder mystery with a slight gay twist. We have two MCs living in a small village somewhere in England. Jonathon de Mountford, lord of the manor, world-traveller and renowned photographer, and Mike Tattersall, former cop and now owner of the local pub. They have met in book #1, if I caught that right, where they a) solved their first murder mystery with their amateur sleuthing techniques, and b) became an item. They’re now a cosy couple, young love still making their hearts beat faster, but already comfortable with each other, comfortable with their love, setting those little habits and rituals couples will set one step after the other. Both are likeable characters, their interactions filled with mutual tenderness, wit and humour, acceptance of the other’s characteristics and fancies, and openness. No tortured questionings of one’s feelings, no self-induced dramas, no unsaid things leading to misunderstandings, but love and trust. A soothing couple, a cute couple. Cosy.
The setting adds to the overall cosy feeling (have I used the word “cosy” already? Oops, I guess I did). Merrychurch seems to be exactly what you’d think of when someone said “quaint old village in rural England”. Cute houses, little shops with droll shop owners, a forbidden-looking forest, people you can’t help imagining clad in tweet and wellingtons while they walk their dogs, not to mention The Manor, Jonathon’s home, and the village pub. It even includes the odd old woman people see as the village witch. We don’t get to know her much because, as her bad luck (and the author’s imagination) would have it, she’s the murder victim. That’s when, in little bits and pieces, very much like in an Agatha Christie-novel, some of the best-kept village secrets are unearthed relentlessly by our couple of amateur sleuths. We get a little taste of high-society drama with Jonathon’s highly dislikeable father with a (quite foreseeable and a tad far-fetched) happy-ending-for-now to it that adds just that tiny bit of tension the novel would otherwise be missing.
Alright, some clues might be a bit too obvious—and I found out rather early on who would be the murderer. I have to admit, I found it out because that was the person I wanted to be the murderer, not because I’m so clever or because the clues were that obvious. Alright, there were some improbable twists and turns. But, honestly, my overall feeling was that of reading a solid, well-paced, humorous murder mystery. No unnecessary suspense, just a plain, good, old whodunnit with that cute couple, all of it solidly planned, solidly written in seemingly effortless prose (the hardest to achieve), typo- and error-free (yes, that is possible)—even the commas seemed all to be in place. If you prefer car cases and dramatic turns, throbbing genitals and steamy sex scenes, this might be too smooth for you. But for those who like their cosy read from time to time, for those who love to get a book that smells of blazing open fires, cinnamon-and-apple pies, and the odd cuppa, I can only recommend this book.