Murder at the Mill
"Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw is a great sweeping adventure. Ideal for holiday reading." —M. C. Beaton, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
"A rich, mystery debut" —Kirkus Starred Review
A picture hides a thousand lies... And only Iris Grey can uncover the truth.
Iris Grey rents a quaint cottage in a picture-perfect Hampshire village, looking to escape from her crumbling marriage. She is drawn to the neighboring Wetherby family, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated crime writer.
At the Wetherby's Christmas Eve party, the mulled wine is in full flow - but so are tensions and rivalries among the guests. On Christmas Day, the youngest member of the Wetherby family, Lorcan, finds a body in the water. A tragic accident? Or a deadly crime?
With the snow falling, Iris enters a world of village gossip, romantic intrigue, buried secrets, and murder.
Artist Iris Grey, the heroine of this engrossing first mystery and series launch from Shaw (the pen name of Tilly Bagshawe, Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow), flees the remnants of a bitter marriage in London for Mill Cottage in Hampshire, where she's been commissioned to paint the portrait of writer Dominic "Dom" Wetherby, whose successful TV detective series will soon draw to a close. For Iris, the circle at nearby Mill House at first seems warm and devoted, encompassing Dom; wife Ariadne; daughter-in-law Jenna; sons Marcus, Billy, and Lorcan; and the barrister and family friend Graham Feeney. Yet Iris later detects disquieting fault lines: infidelity, blackmail, drug addiction, mental instability, troubles with the law and local residents, and rumors of abuse. When Lorcan finds a body in the River Itchen on Christmas Day, Iris cannot agree with the easy verdict of suicide and begins to look into the Wetherbys' past secrets. Although attentive readers might identify the perpetrator, the principled, smart, and courageous Iris is bound to garner enthusiastic fans.
Debut mystery by TIlly Bagshawe
Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw takes us to charming village of Hampshire in England. Iris Grey, a portrait painter, has rented out Mill Cottage from Dom and Ariadne Wetherby. Dom is the charismatic author of the Grimshaw novels. Iris felt she needed time away from her playwright husband, Ian McBride whose career is on a downswing along with his attitude. Dom is retiring from writing and publishing his last Grimshaw book. Ariadne has requested Iris paint Dom’s portrait in honor of the occasion. During the sittings, Iris notices tension among the members of the Wetherby family. At the boisterous annual Wetherby Christmas Eve party, Iris meets Graham Feeney, lawyer and friend of the Wetherby’s. She is attracted to Graham, but Iris has yet to make a decision regarding her marriage. After a quiet Christmas day, Iris hears a scream down by the river. Lorcan, the Wetherby’s youngest son with Down’s syndrome, was playing with his boat in the river and it caught on a body. It looks like a suicide, but the victim had no reason to harm himself. Iris, with help from Jenna Wetherby, begins searching for the truth. The villagers are a curious and gossipy bunch who are happy to give Iris the lowdown on the Wetherby clan. Can Iris uncover the truth? Join Iris Grey in Hampshire on her inaugural investigation in Murder at the Mill.
Murder at the Mill is set in Hampshire, England which will please readers who enjoy English cozy mysteries especially those with a bit of edge to them. Hampshire is a small village where gossip runs rampant. Iris Grey is a portrait painter known for capturing the essence of her subjects. Doing a portrait of Dom Wetherby would be a feather in her cap and would greatly help her career. Iris has a colorful and quirky clothing style which some find garish. Dom is known for being charming and flirtatious which makes it hard to get to know the real man. Billy Wetherby, the middle son, is the villain of our piece. He has just been released from prison and a lack of funds has him living at home once again. Billy and Ariadne are frequently at odds. There are numerous characters in Murder at the Mill. It can be hard to keep them all straight. It is made more difficult since the point-of-view alternates between several of them including Iris, Marcus Wetherby, Ariadne Wetherby, and Jenna Wetherby. I think the novel would have benefited if the story had been told from Iris’ perspective or in the third person. It would have helped the flow of the story. The author has a descriptive writing style and likes to use similes. Some of the authors comparisons made me cringe (“the spindly tree branches swayed and shivered pathetically in the wind like the starved limbs of concentration-camp prisoners, pleading for escape” or “Lorcan tore at the wrapping on his gift like a starving child clawing at a bag of rice”). Her descriptions, though, help readers imagine the scenes in the book and bring the story to life. There are two mysteries in Murder at the Mill with multiple suspects, good clues and red herrings. I like how the two whodunits tied together and all the threads were tired up at the end. I do want to warn readers that there is a significant amount of foul language and animal lovers will be offended at how Ariadne uses real animals as subjects for her sculptures (she uses anesthesia to put them to sleep while she sculpts). Murder at the Mill is a potboiler that will have you on the edge of your seat as you quickly turn the pages to the surprising ending.