Mystery or Romance?

A Murder Of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

Publication Date: July 1, 2022

Summary from NetGalley:

Dr Nell Ward is an ecologist, not a detective. But when she’s the prime suspect in a murder, only her unique set of skills could help to clear her name…

In the sleepy village of Cookingdean, Dr Nell Ward is busy working in the grounds of a local manor house. Whilst inspecting an old tunnel, the last thing she expects to overhear is a murder. As the only person with any clues as to what happened, Nell soon finds herself in the middle of the investigation.

Desperate to clear her name Nell, along with her colleague Adam, set out solving the murder using their skills as ecologists to uncover details no one else would notice. But it soon becomes clear that playing Agatha Christie is much harder than it might, at first appear…

ARC provided by Embla Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

I did find this to be a very engaging read and there were times when I had a hard time putting it down, but I did have a few issues with it as well.

I really liked the characters, especially Nell. I found her to be quite relatable and I was super interested in her job, which sounded amazing. The author does a really good job of explaining her work without it becoming boring or overwhelming. Nell is meticulous and a very private person, which causes some issues for her when she is accused of murder. I also liked Adam, her coworker, and I enjoyed their banter and flirting. Adam supported her when she was accused and helps her find out what really happens. The detective, James, was a little hard to like at first, but eventually he does come around.

The story itself was where this novel becomes a bit troublesome. The evidence that brings the police to have Nell as their primary suspect, is pretty weak. And they seem to ignore the motives of some of the other people involved as they try to shore up this weak evidence. There were many red herrings as well, almost too many. Also, this is being touted as an ecologist using her skills to solve a murder, and well frankly that never really happened? She makes a suggestion about using bat droppings, but that was about it. Mostly she just spies on who she thinks did it until she gets the evidence needed to confront him. Finally, I kind of had an issue with the romance aspect. Not sure why we needed a love triangle, and there were a few times where the romance overrode the mystery narrative.

The writing was a plus however. For a debut novel, it was really well written. Lovely descriptions of the places Nell visited and the dialogue was well written and witty and fun. As I mentioned before I think she does a great job of describing Nell’s job and all of the interesting things she does without it overwhelming the reader.

Overall, this is a fun read with some interesting characters. This is the first in a series and it is one that I would certainly consider continuing. The set up for the next book happens at the end of this one, and it sounds like it will be an interesting one. I do recommend you give this one a chance, especially if you like cozy mysteries with a romance.

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