Author: Kathy Manos Penn
Published: February 2020 by Manos Penn & Ink
Category: Cosy Murder/Mystery, Contemporary Fiction, Book Review
Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.
When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie.
Leta Parker’s life changed irrevocably when her husband was killed in an accident while they were out biking. Eighteen months later she had fulfilled her dream of retiring to England and has a pretty, restored and cosy cottage in the Cotswolds. All she needs now is to pick up Dickens, a dwarf Pyrenees and Christie the black cat, from the airport. They both have a moan (literally) and Christie particularly has plenty to say about being crated for the journey. Leta is a female Dr Doolittle and can actually communicate with animals. It’s a fun twist, I’ve often thought it would be perfect I could understand ‘dog speak’. I’m glad, however, that the animals were portrayed and treated as pets and not given human traits (apart from the obvious)
How life has changed for the three of us. A new home, a new country … and a new life … without Henry. I wondered whether the animals missed him as much as I did.
Leta has settled into her new life and made some good friends, including fellow ex-pat, Wendy. One morning, on a walk with Dickens, she is shocked and distressed to discover a body in suspicious circumstances. After speaking to the police, Leta feels the need for Wendy’s company and the discussion makes them, and Wendy’s mum Belle, aware they don’t really know the victim, although most people in the village see her in one capacity or another.
After Wendy helped her mum into the kitchen, she asked me to tell the story again. Every time I repeated it, I found the telling got a bit easier. I almost made it through this time without tears. Belle braced herself on her cane and leaned over to give me a hug.
Leta and Wendy discover there are multiple potential suspects, even as they shy away from the awful thought of one of their friends being the culprit.
A steady initial build up allows the reader to get acquainted with the characters and form mental images. I enjoyed how J.M. Barrie and his works were written into the story, with a plot line that wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. And, as always, I love being familiar with the places mentioned in the story. They brought back lots of lovely memories. A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.
I chose to read and review Bells, Tails & Murder for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied by the author.
Book links ~ Amazon | Book Depository | Amazon US
As a corporate escapee, Kathy Manos Penn went from crafting change communications to plotting page-turners. Adhering to the adage to “write what you know,” she populates her mysteries with well-read, witty senior women, a sassy cat, and a loyal dog. The murders and talking pets, however, exist only in her imagination.
Years ago, when she stumbled onto a side job as a columnist for a local paper, she saw the opportunity as an entertaining diversion from the corporate grind. Little did she know that her serendipitous foray into writing “whatever struck her fancy” would lead to a cozy mystery series.
How does she describe her life? “I’m living a dream I never knew I had. Picture me sitting serenely at my desk, surrounded by the four-legged office assistants who inspire the personalities of Dickens & Christie. Why is Dickens a fiend for belly rubs? Because my real-life dog is. The same goes for Christie’s finicky eating habits and penchant for lolling on top of the desk or in the file drawer. She gets it from my calico cat who right this minute is lying on the desk swishing her tail and deciding which pen or pencil to knock to the floor next.”