The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock

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The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock

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Buy The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A reclusive hermit is found shot dead in mysterious circumstances. Can the murderer be found before someone else is killed?
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd
ISBN: 9780719811067

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Charlotte Tyler is delighted to receive an invitation to Lovegrove Priory, home of eccentric Gothic novelist Amelia Denby. The priory is surrounded by acres of picturesque parkland and Denby even has a hermit living in the grounds in his own private retreat. However, when the hermit, Brother Caspar, is found dead in an apparent suicide, it is up to Charlotte and her new friend Colonel Hartley to piece together the clues and unmask the murderer.

The Lovegrove Hermit is set in the early nineteenth century, creating a story that is a kind of fusion between Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. I have never read a murder mystery set in this time period before, but liked the way that the genteel facade of the house guests stood in stark contrast with the gruesome events unfolding around them.

Charlotte is a likeable character and quite closely resembles a typical Austen heroine; in her late twenties, unmarried and eminently sensible and wise. The unlikely hero of the story, Colonel Hartley, is a scarred soldier who lost his arm in combat. I liked the fact that Craddock chose a disabled veteran as the male lead, although the constant references to his missing arm became increasingly cringeworthy as the story went on. For example:

...you can enjoy your last moments in each others’ arms - all three of them.

Craddock’s writing style is pleasant enough, but the characters and locations lacked the necessary depth to make me feel part of the story. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, whereas a well-written narrative transports the reader to the heart of the action.

I like my mystery stories to have plenty of twists, turns and red-herrings, but sadly, this one was rather linear. The author gave far too many clues and there were far too few suspects in the house party, making the identity of the murderer glaringly obvious.

Despite the gruesome subject matter, the story is endearingly gentle and the romance is very sweet and innocent. Austen fans will lap it up, but I’m afraid those looking for a gripping murder mystery will be somewhat disappointed.

Those who enjoyed the Lovegrove Hermit may enjoy The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James.

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Buy The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lovegrove Hermit by Rosemary Craddock at Amazon.com.

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