Publication Date: April 9, 2016
Cathy O’Farrell and her former cleaner, Pimple are the proprietors of the newly formed Crouch End Confidential Agency, a detective agency that badly needs an influx of cash as Cathy. Cathy is too soft hearted to ever be a businesswoman and persists in not charging little old ladies and children when called upon to track lost pets and toys. When Cathy’s husband threatens to relocate in order to live his dream of being a postmaster, she has some choices to make while juggling an increasingly complex case involving sketchy characters and vandalism.“Meddling with Murder” is the third book in the Crouch End Confidential series.
The sister team of authors known as Ellie Campbell sent me this book in exchange for my review.
Cathy O’Farrell and her band of Crouch End crazies are back in Meddling with Murder. Pimple is away and no one is making money with Cathy at the helm. She doesn’t have the heart to charge for finding lost cats and bikes. When the business starts to pick up and a potentially profitable job comes in, Cathy does her best to make it work. The cover of Meddling with Murder is perfect because that slightly harried-looking woman could so perfectly be the Cathy of the novel.
In Looking for La La, the first book of the series, Cathy is a mess. She gets a postcard indicating that her beloved husband Declan, is having an affair and her obsession is finding the woman. Cathy has evolved slowly and naturally over the course of the series so that in the third book she is a wholly different character. Cathy knows herself better and while she’s still getting in her own way, she’s motivated by her better qualities instead of paranoia. Cathy knows what she should do but she knows where her boundaries are now. When Declan proposes moving, Cathy isn’t quite so sure by this third book that she’ll do anything to save her marriage.
Campbell’s skill is in the comedy touches. Meddling with Murder is slightly slapstick with the humor mostly lying in the creativity of the author. Some of the plot elements are beautifully ridiculous. Cathy’s stint of undercover work is comic gold. The true magic of “Meddling with Murder” is in its enthusiasm and life. The sister-author team writes characters that are generally joyous, lovable and fun to read. The Wednesday-Once-Weeklys have evolved and readers will wish they had friends like the participants. In keeping with the rest of the series, each character has their own wholly realized story line so that there is no stone left unturned.
Declan adds a very real roadblock within the series. Throughout the Crouch End Confidential series, shippers of Declan and Cathy will have to acknowledge that their relationship has been a bit off-balance. In the third novel, Declan has gone full blown free spirit. When he wants to move to run a post office, it isn’t a given that Cathy will go with him but it’s a very real potential turning point in the series. Cathy is busy working on a lost dog case and investigating her best friend’s fiancé and while she may not be making money she feels needed. Can she really turn her back on a life she loves to live out someone else’s dream, no matter how she may care for that person? This element may be the most poignant for some long-married readers. In every novel, Campbell includes very real problems in this humor and cozy mystery.
Ellie Campbell consisting of Pam and Lorraine and they are incredibly talented authors. If you enjoy cozy mysteries, chick-lit or just generally good writing, pick “Meddling with Murder” up today.
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