"You're a librarian, not a detective," Catherine Penny's daughter reminds her But Catherine, suddenly single in her sixties, finds it easy to slip into sleuthing mode when she leaves behind New York City and a failed marriage for a lovely 17th century cottage in the idyllic English village of Far Wychwood.
But behind the town's quaint stone walls and lace-curtained window lurk dark secrets and whispers of witchcraft. And when her crusty neighbor George Crocker dies in a tragic fire, Catherine alone suspects arson. Lacking hard evidence, the police pay little attention, and the villagers swear she must be mistaken. Catherine, however, is one feisty expatriate American who leaves no stone unturned when circumstances point to murder. She may not be Miss Marple---yet---but her ingenious knack for uncovering the truth is about to take Far Wychwood by storm!
You know how much I love finding a new series to enjoy. I definitely found one in ARSON AND OLD LACE. Catherine Penny is a feisty lead character who I grew to admire. She is in her 60s and pulls up roots from her life in New York City after her husband of a chunk of years leaves her for another, younger, woman. Catherine moves to England to be near her daughter who has married an Englishman and had Catherine's grandson.
Catherine is a lot nicer than I would be if the crotchety old neighbor treated me the way he treated her when she goes over to help when she sees smoke coming from his house and puts out the fire and fixes his dinner for him. And continues to do so until she gets fed up, but kind of still looks over him afterwards.
Then she looks into the suspicious death by fire and gets into hot water when she starts digging too deep into the death that no one thinks is worth investigating. Her daughter already thinks there's something wrong with her and the police detective neighbor is gently irritated with her.
She does make some friends pretty much immediately which I thought was pretty nifty. The village is fairly typical for an English village as seen in other English mysteries. Not sure if it's stereotyping, but it's what I tend to expect and love when I read English mysteries, especially English cozies.
I will be on the lookout for the next in the series, SLAYING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW, so I can see how Catherine gets through the visit from her ex and his 'Barbie' he left her for.
Five can't wait to see what happens in this bucolic village beans.....