Mystery at the Minster by Helen Cox (Quercus £8.99 paperback)

THERE has been a revival recently of what is termed “cosy crime”, roughly defined as murder mystery without the gore and with possibly a bit of romance thrown in. With this book, Helen Cox has started a series of novels about York librarian Kitt Hartley.

Kitt is a wilfully independent woman with a lot of time for her friends but short thrift for idiots. In this first story, her adorable best friend Evie finds herself a suspect in the death of a recent ex-boyfriend. Kitt sets about using her wits and book knowledge and general nosiness to do a bit of amateur sleuthing. She comes in close (but not unpleasant)  contact with the investigating officer Halloran. The tone is light and comic. Even in dark times, Kitt muses “if being  arrested for murder had seemed in the realms of possibility, she would have worn her slacks.”  Being a librarian, Kitt makes a lot of literary references, including many a nod to past detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. A strong appeal of this book is its setting.

York Press:

Book of the week

The cast of characters race around the city, taking in Bishy Road, The Three Legged Mare on High Petergate (right next door to my shop no less), a banquet in a medieval hall near the Minster and a nightclub hidden away in Mad Alice Lane and plenty of places in between. What is most interesting is that Cox has decided to interweave the real and recognisable York with the odd made-up place (poetic license at work) – the library Kitt works at is in the Vale of York University situated just by Rowntree Park.  The mystery soon reels you in as  you want to know what is going on and more importantly whodunnit? The good news is that Helen has been very busy, so if you like this book, there are now two more in the series.

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