Murder by the Minster by Helen Cox – the first Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mystery

Murder by the Minster by Helen Cox

A murder in contemporary York is fortunately not that common, and when librarian Kitt Hartley’s best friend Evie is accused of killing her ex -boyfriend, it is a radical event that demands everyone’s attention. Evie is an otherwise funny and peace -loving person, skilled at massage and living in a world of vintage clothes, furniture and car, not someone who would be associated with a complex and dramatic death. Kitt is a book addict who has great affection for her friend, and when she is approached in her workplace, the Vale of York University library, she is determined to do all she can to help Evie. Unfortunately this involves pushing the edge of friendly enquiries, and places her in situations which even she has not read about. This is the first in a series of novels featuring Kitt and begins her involvement with the crimes that beset even this tourist attraction city. Her attraction for Detective Inspector Malcolm Halloran is an added complication in an investigation that makes her reassess everything about her life.

This is a well -paced book that makes the most of its setting in a city which is readily recognizable from the descriptions throughout the novel. It also introduces characters who are memorable for all the right reasons, such as Grace the technical investigator who does a sharp line in impressions, and Ruby whose talent for having visions is everything to do with her nose for gossip. The real – life crimes that Kitt becomes involved in investigating are well plotted, with distracting clues and suspicious activities seemingly erupting all over the area.

It is a tricky day for the whole situation to begin, as before her cup of Lady Grey Kitt must sort out a student who seems determined to dismiss one of her strongly held beliefs, the importance of the Women’s Studies section of the library where she works. This is especially so as she is nursing a hangover from her previous evening of consoling her friend Evie on being abandoned by her boyfriend Owen. Not that Kitt is an expert on romantic relationships, as her boyfriend of several years had walked out on her ten years before. Nevertheless, it comes as a shock when a good -looking police inspector walks into the library to question her about Evie and her ex -boyfriend Owen Hall. Kitt is stunned to hear that Evie is already being questioned as she firmly believes her to be “the most well-meaning individual” she has ever met. When Evie can she asks Kitt to investigate unofficially, and a series of red herrings and dangerous situations seem to arise as Kitt begins to suspect that Halloran’s attractions may well be leading somewhere she is reluctant to return.

I really enjoyed this book of non -gory crime, where the clues and situations reflect a clever understanding of detection as a classic pursuit, one that the well read Kitt is familiar with despite the risks and real -life impact. It is full of well -drawn characters, and there are so many funny innuendos, especially from Evie despite her perilous circumstances. I also enjoyed Kitt’s conversations with Grace and Ruby, especially when trying to maintain enough order to satisfy the dislikable Michelle. I recommend this book as the start of a really enticing series and look forward to reading more Kitt Hartley Yorkshire mysteries.

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