I really don't know why it takes me this long to sit myself with one of Emma's mystery novels. I struggle to find the "right time" but in the end, once I start I'm immersed in the story and the pages almost turn themselves. It's been awhile since I've read this series and though there are some things I had to scratch my head a bit to remember it was great revisiting Tony and Kate (as well as Paul!).
The previous installment ending was quite devastating. Both Tony and Kate were injured which let to them leaving London for Tony's ancestral home in Devon - Briarshaw. Truth being told, Tony had enough. He is ready to get back to work (as a PI / Consultant to the Scotland Yard) but Kate is still struggling mentally. Tony tries to be as supportive as he can while also lightly directing Kate to seek help. That's how they find themselves spending a week in London.
Naturally them arriving in London "just for a light vacation" means someone is going to get murdered and these two are going to be swept into the center of it all. They could have said no when Paul Bahr (Kate's partner) called with the news, and yet they didn't. As they say the curiosity got the cat(s). It helps that the whole murder scene almost looked like a prank. Yet Galen Barnaby was dead, there was no doubt about that.
I won't say more about the murder case as I wouldn't know where to start and how to even try and explain it all so I just suggest you enjoy it yourself as it is. I will say this book would be almost useless without the previous 5 novels as much has happened in the previous ones not just romantically but also professionally. That's without mentioning the horrific events of the previous one I feel would be crucial to understand where all characters are currently.
While the story does give pretty big hints to who might be behind the murder, it was still a really interesting read, as it was far more complex than I initially thought. The three of them - Tony, Kate and Paul are great together. I love the interaction between them not just about the case, but also the silent conversations, the way they know and understand each other. While Kate and Tony were away Paul also had his own struggles and now that his friends are there it's time to confess and try to work out a few things. Naturally, back in London it's also time for Tony and Kate to deal with their own.
My only issue with this book was the way Emma dealt - or rather didn't - with the emotional struggles of all three characters (four with Emmeline Wardle - Paul's previously on/off girlfriend). Things happened, all of them had their own "final resolve" which was either totally off-page or sort of "fade to black" which is truly a shame, especially with Tony and Kate. These two have a really unique way of communicating. They give each other space, yet they don't ignore what the other is feeling / experiencing. I just wish Emma gave that part of the relationship more page time.
That being said this was a truly engaging, interesting, fun and at times sweet and heart felt novel. There is a lot more to explore in Tony and Kate's lives (and not only because of the surprise 'ending'). I hope Emma will keep on writing these characters.
13-15 August 2021