Today I'm starting to read Murder at the Maples by Joanne Phillips. This a sort of a homage to the end of the highly successful cozy crime TV series Poirot, with the screening of an episode based on Agatha Christie's last Hercule Poirot novel 'Curtain'.
I have loved Christie's books ever since I read them as a teenager, and am totally hooked on the Poirot and Miss Marple TV series and movies. I've been known to watch them several times over, to the absolutely exasperation of my family. These days I have to actually be ill in order to be allowed to watch them! They are a cruel lot, my family.
'Cozy Mysteries' is also a highly popular genre in fiction, so this week I thought I'd try a book written by a fellow indy writer, Joanne Phillips. Her two previous romance novels have been huge successes, so I know this woman can write.
Murder at the Maples (Flora Lively Mysteries) by Joanne Phillips
'Are you sure it's safe?' Flora looked out of the window and up the cliff face. The other carriage seemed suspended above them. How on earth had she let Joy talk her into this?
'Oh, Flora, you're such a wimp.' Joy sat back with a smile and patted the bench by her side. 'Come on, it only lasts a minute.'
So does plummeting to your certain death, thought Flora, but she tucked herself in next to Joy anyway and began a head count of the other passengers.
Visiting the cliff railway at Bridgnorth was a special treat for her friend's eightieth birthday - Flora's idea of a fun day out was shopping for vintage clothes or taking to the hills with a backpack. Not risking life and limb for a trip down memory lane. Flora stowed her tote bag between her sandaled feet and began to read the guidebook with determined interest.
'It was right here,' Joy said dreamily, 'where Eddie proposed to me. The fourth of May, nineteen fifty-one. The happiest day of my life.'
I get a definite whiff of Mrs Marple or Poirot from the beginning of this novel. There's the same kind of gentleness to the story - an eighty-year-old, a memory of a proposal - contrasted with such words as 'death' 'risking life and limb' and 'cliff face' and 'safe'. You also get a sense that Flora is both physically fit (possibly younger than her friend?) and an observant kind of woman - she hikes and she's already taking a headcount of the passengers on the dangerous looking cliff railway.
These first paragraphs of Murder at the Maples have definitely whetted my appetite, and I look forward to seeing what adventures Flora faces in this first of what I firmly believe will become a very successful series of books.