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Book Review | A Deadly Walk in Devon by Nicholas George

From the publisher: A retired San Diego police detective embarks upon group walking tours in England’s most scenic counties in the first in a charming new mystery series set in the English countryside.

is a debut novel and the first book in the Walk Through England Mystery series. In it, a group of Americans on a guided walk in Devon, England, includes a man named Gretz. I’ve read a lot of cozy mysteries, and Gretz is right out of cozy mystery central casting. The grouchy, hard-to-get-along-with, unlikable man who is obviously going to be the murder victim and about whom other characters say, “If you did kill him, we don’t blame you.” (p. 148 of the ARC)

I’d guess the author has also read a lot of cozy mysteries. Besides the unlikable victim, we have the bickering couple, the clueless Chief Inspector, the attractive young new widow, and a whole cast of suspects hiding secrets. I hope in the sequels that the author can strive for a little more originality, instead of a cookie cutter cozy. I think we might see some of the walkers return in future books, and maybe they will be fleshed out a little. The climactic confrontation of the killer was truly eye-rolling in its implausibility.

I love England and have yet to do a walking tour, so the premise of this book appealed to me. Unfortunately, there is not as much “walking” as I had hoped. Once the murder occurs, the group stays in one place. Still, I enjoyed the English setting.

The book is narrated by ex-detective Rick Chasen, and at one point he mentions that he likes whistling as he walks. That would certainly be grounds for murder if I were on a walk with the guy. Although this is marketed as a debut, there were references to the main character’s previous cases which originally made me wonder if I’d missed something.

At one point Chase’s walker friend Billie jokes, “I’ll kill you if you don’t. Oops. Guess I shouldn’t be joking about murder, should I?” (p. 131 of the ARC) Is the author poking fun at cozy cliches or just being cliched? I can’t tell. The main character is supposed to be a huge baseball fan, but I wondered if the author is. At one point the main character muses, “I often looked at my success rate through the lens of baseball, where batters typically fail to get a base hit seven out of ten pitches.” (p. 170 of the ARC) I think he means seven out of ten at bats. I read an advance reader copy, so maybe that will be fixed when the book is published. I do give the author points for trying to redeem Bill Buckner, who is unfairly blamed for costing the Red Sox the World Series in 1986. Although I felt like the author made some rookie errors (ha ha) in his debut, I enjoyed it enough that I might read book two.

The cover is very attractive and I imagine similar matching covers on the whole series that will look great together. If you enjoy the sometimes outlandish stories in M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series, you may enjoy A Deadly Walk in Devon.

I read an advance reader copy of A Deadly Walk in Devon from Netgalley. It is scheduled to be released on March 26 and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library.