The next book that I have read in my effort to read (or reread) the most popular and recommended Cozy Mysteries that are listed on the site is “The Cold Light of Mourning“, the first in the Penny Brannigan Mystery Series by Elizabeth J. Duncan.
In this, the first of eight books in the series (so far), we are introduced to Penny Brannigan and her new friend, Victoria Hopkirk. Penny and her friend live in a small town in North Wales, Llanelen. Penny is a 50 something Canadian who stopped in Llanelen while backpacking across Wales when in her 20s. She found the town so welcoming and picturesque, that she stopped there for the night and never left. Penny is a manicurist and a part time artist (thus the beautiful Welsh town and countryside are especially attractive to her.) Victoria is a harpist who recently relocated from London after a divorce. Both of the (amateur) sleuths are in their early 50s.
The mystery opens with the death of Emma Teasdale, the elderly friend of Penny who Penny first encountered on that fateful day when Penny was looking for a place to stay for one night. Emma was a long-time school teacher, and she and Penny became great friends during the 25 years or so after Penny arrived in Llanelen.
At the same time as Emma’s funeral is being planned, anticipation runs high in the small town for the imminent wedding of the local rich landowner’s son, Emyr, to a self-made beauty, Meg Wynne. When Meg Wynne goes missing on the day of her wedding, the mystery really begins.
Of course, there are several people who had a reason to wish Meg Wynne dead. And, Penny gets involved in the case because she was apparently the last person to see Meg Wynne before she disappeared. Also, Penny notices something wrong at her friend Emma’s funeral.
The police inspector in charge of the case is in his 50s and is also single – as is Penny. (Hmmm… Does this mean there will be an almost inevitable romance?) Victoria, of course, helps solve the case. More surprisingly, Emma also helps solve the case (I won’t give away the details of how except to mention that the mystery does not contain paranormal elements.)
This book is a great start to the mystery series. I can understand why this book was nominated for the Agatha Award for best best first novel. Penny, Victoria, Chief Inspector Gareth Davies and his Sergeant, Bethan Morgan, are all terrific Cozy Mystery characters. The small town setting is extremely well suited to the Cozy Mystery genre. And the mystery plays out in a very enjoyable way. After reading “The Cold Light of Mourning”, I felt as though I had found new friends to visit when I feel in the mood for a new Cozy!