In a seasonal twist of fate, I was given Murder in the Manger as a Christmas present. It was such a good read, I’d finished it by Boxing Day. Although based around a nativity play – with unexpected drama when a baby goes missing – the book would be a treat any time. If you believe a crime story should be dark, however (and I admit that most of my favourites are), turn away now. Murder in the Manger is a cozy mystery, sweetly romantic and gently humorous.
Set in the fictional English village of Wendlebury Barrow, this is the third in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries. Living in a Cotswolds parish rather similar to Wendlebury Barrow, author Debbie Young is skilled in writing a page turner. Tightly plotted and brimming with believable oddballs, the first two books in the series established a mini-crime wave in the village. Luckily, new resident Sophie was on hand to crack the case.
Sophie is a young woman who has fled a deadbeat boyfriend, Damian, to start afresh in Wendlebury Barrow. By the beginning of Murder in the Manger, she is integrated into village life, with a new job and lover. To her horror, Damian decides not merely to visit her, but to direct the local nativity play which Sophie has written. With a cast of children and animals (Janet the donkey almost steals the show), laughs are guaranteed. Sophie’s unease in Damian’s company, and the charm he exerts over the other females in the village, also provide dramatic tension. There is less crime than in the first two books, but that’s unlikely to upset Sophie’s fans, as Debbie Young keeps the suspense rising. Will Sophie’s new relationship survive Damian’s arrival? Whose is the baby, heard but never seen – and who has stolen it?
Love Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple? This is for You
Another Good Read
I write crime stories with an English flavour too, but mine are set in the British cities of London and Birmingham. Looking for another good read? You can read my Trail series free on Kindle Unlimited, or download free samples from Amazon. They’re also available as traditional paperbacks, or in a large print, dyslexia-friendly format.