The Shires Mysteries feature a pair of accidental sleuths from the depths of Wiltshire’s countryside, a place called Bishops Well, a large village with aspirations to be a town or, according to some inhabitants in the know, a medieval market town which over the centuries fell on hard times. There are a few places like that in Wiltshire. Mine is a cross between Devizes, Trowbridge and a small village with its own claim to fame that I know well, but it shall remain anonymous.
One of my intrepid sleuths is Maggie Kaye, a woman of many talents, some of them quite out of this world; she is a Jack of all trades and master of none, with her finger in many pies, including education, journalism, a spot of gardening and the supernatural. The other is Samuel Dee, a widower and retired barrister, who comes to Bishops Well seeking peace and quiet. His best laid plans are derailed when he ends up as Maggie’s neighbour and reluctant confidante.
In the first book, fittingly named Death Comes to Bishops Well, a famous Polish director, a cult figure from the eighties, is murdered at his own birthday bash. Maggie pursues the killer, dragging Sam with her whether he likes it or not. Don’t expect anything gruesome, procedural or blood-curdling. The Shires Mysteries are light and humorous – it is cosy crime after all.
In the second instalment, At Death’s Door, the Bishops Well AA (Archaeological Association) dig up a body of a woman who was killed much later than the Celtic past they are exploring. If that wasn’t enough, Maggie’s long lost sister Andrea returns to town, bringing with her nothing but her troubled past and destruction.
In the third offering, Cause of Death, our amateur sleuths investigate the circumstances of the death of Sam’s late wife, Alice (it was originally ruled to be suicide). Then the vicar is killed and the murderer has sealed his lips with a tape. That is reminiscent of another death a few years back. Has Bishops Well acquired its own serial killer?