Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hangman's Row Enquiry: An Ivy Beasley Mystery / by Ann Purser

86-year-old Ivy Beasley's can sometimes seem a bit pushy and she does have a tendency to meddle in other people's affairs. But she means well and has a good-natured way about her, never totally out of line and just curious mostly with the intent to get to the bottom of things. Long the the most well-known busybody in Round Ringford, where within her circle of spinsters she was generally know as the cleverest as well as the bossiest, Ivy has pulled up the stakes and relocated to an assisted living home near her cousin Dierdre's house in village of Barrington. But no change of pace or altered lifestyle can limit Ivy's gregarious nature, or keep her from another mystery in which a local woman named Miriam Blake has been found dead nearby at Hangman's Row, stabbed in the heart with a bread knife.
Teaming up with Gus, another newcomer to the same nursing home and once a neighbor of the dead woman, Ivy immediately starts in on the sleuthing soon discovering that the corpse in question was worth a deceptively large amount of money. Miriam Blake's wealth didn't win the victim too many friends, however, as she'd remained a bit of a recluse of late, harrowed by people who wanted her money including her own daughter with whom a nasty feud was still simmering. With the police seemingly preoccupied with pinning the crime on the victim's daughter, Ivy suspects there's more than meets the eye and that more secrets that are yet to be uncovered. Together with Gus and Dierdre--the group having officially formed an private detective service called "Enquire Within"--Ivy steadily pieces together the discontiguous parts of the mystery, soon leading to a discovery which will shock her neighbors and everyone else in this quiety English country town.
Purser's first novel in the Ivy Beasley series is a good spin-off from her Lois Meade mysteries in which Ivy was a subordinate character yet popular with readers for her autocratic personality which slyly concealed a crafty investigative prowess. 'Hangman's Row' is no doubt as formulaic as it gets in the cozy mystery realm with police procedure barely incorporated into the narrative and circumstances a little too convenient for practical realism. But Purser knows how to keep an audience satisfied and writes in a manner which will prevent many readers from complaining about continuity issues. Her style of short, manageable chapters with succinct get-the-point-across paragraphs helps to establish the characters, build relationships and maintain a steady level of drama. (MYS PURSER)

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