Murder on the Levels is the second of Frances Evesham’s Exham on Sea mysteries. The main character is Libby Forest, a widow who has started a new life by the sea after many years in an unhappy marriage. Despite having rubbed up some of the locals the wrong way, she has befriended Bear, an enormous Carpathian sheepdog and his handsome but secretive owner, Max Ramshore.
Libby’s new venture is making delicious cakes and chocolates and in this book she is successfully, selling them at the local bakery, but disaster strikes when two people are poisoned by sandwiches made at the bakery and delivered by Libby. Once again, Libby must play detective, this time to protect her own livelihood and to prove that the police have arrested the wrong culprit.
Libby reminds me of Agatha Raisin from the books by M C Beaton but without the acidity. Although often unwise, Libby is well meaning and with the help of Max and also of Mandy her teenage, Goth lodger, she eventually solves the murder mystery. There is a sub-plot connected to Libby’s ex-husband who proves to have had a more unsavoury past than she realised and the machinations of this should continue into the next book.
For a short lively story with an interesting plot, Murder on the Levels is a good read. I shall seek out the next episode to discover more of events in this small seaside town and of Libby’s on/off relationship with Max.
In addition to the Exham on Sea contemporary crime series set in a small Somerset seaside town, Frances Evesham has also written the Thatcham Hall Mysteries, 19th Century historical mystery romances set in Victorian England.
An Independent Woman which I have reviewed here and
Danger at Thatcham Hall which you can read about here
Frances Evesham collects grandsons, Victorian ancestors and historical trivia, likes to smell the roses, lavender and rosemary, and cooks with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. She loves the Arctic Circle and the equator and plans to visit the penguins at the South Pole one day, when she’s knitted enough woollen underwear.
During a varied life she’s been a speech therapist, a road sweeper, and an RAF wife. She’s also worked in the criminal courts, seeing the world from both the Dock and the Witness Box alongside vulnerable witnesses and defendants. Now, she walks in the country and breathes sea air in Somerset.