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The Festival Murders

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I just love a charming, typically English storyline, and this one has all the charm. Entertaining, amusing, altogether a great start to a new series.
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Bryce Peabody is known as a tough literary critic, and has made lots of enemies over the years, not only for his reviews, but also for his constant womanizing. He is excited to attend the annual literary festival at Mold-on-Wold, even though those enemies will also be there. Bryce is one of the featured speakers, and has plenty of dirt planned for his sold-out speech. However, in the first installment of the Francis Meadowes Mysteries, The Festival Murders, Bryce is found dead in his room and most, including the police and his new girlfriend, Priya, think it’s a heart attack or something like it. Meadowes is in the room next to Bryce, and takes Priya in because Bryce’s room is a crime scene; Priya helps him (although a published crime writer, Meadowes fancies himself as an amateur sleuth) in his investigation of the death. During the festival there is another death, and since Meadowes suspects that it is murder, he starts to look at Bryce’s death more closely.

One of the most charming things about this fun cozy is that it is set in England and the prose and characters are very English. There are some idioms that will be unfamiliar to US readers, but they are fairly easy to figure out, and the storyline and scenarios make readers want to visit this small English town, Mold-on-Wold. McCrum has done an excellent job of developing the characters, and throughout the novel there are several viable suspects. McCrum’s story keeps readers on their toes, and even though it’s a cozy, there is some suspense that builds throughout.

The Francis Meadows Mysteries are unique, and offer some fun reading. The Festival Murders is a fun read and will leave readers wanting to pick up the next installment.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.
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A good quick read mystery with and interesting but uncomplicated story, great for a beach or bathtub read
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My type of mystery drew me right into the story  characters that came alive .I stayed up late finishing the book could not put down till last page.#netgalley#blackthorn
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A good start to a new mystery series. 4/5 stars.

This is an entertaining whodunnit. Francis Meadowes gradually becoming the centre of the story, in the role of crime-writer-turned-sleuth, worked well because it gave him a plausible reason to know the details of police procedure. When pondering the circumstances of the murders he tries to imagine they are in one of his plots, particularly when it comes to drawing up a list of suspects. This reminded me slightly of Castle - if any of you are familiar with that TV series - although Francis is far more low key and self-effacing than Richard Castle!

The plot twists and turns nicely, getting you to change your mind regularly about who did it. I was very pleased with myself when my suspicions were correct! I must confess I didn't manage to figure out the motive(s), but it's nice that some things are kept back as surprises.

The characters are an interesting bunch and the literary festival setting allows for amusing satire of the publishing world which never turns mean-spirited. And some of the more outlandish surnames, often only mentioned in passing, made me chuckle.

The main character, Francis, is likeable and copes well with all the situations he finds himself in. That said, I did think his decision to go the full Poirot at the end of the case (gathering everyone in a room for the big reveal) happened quite suddenly and his speech was a little lengthy. However, it was perfectly in keeping with the type of resolution you'd expect in this sort of classic murder mystery.

Overall: this is a good start to a new whodunnit series which introduces a likeable amateur sleuth.
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Great start to a new series. I liked crime writer Francis Meadowes, and I found the plotting and characterization complex and engaging. I did have an idea who the killer was, but I wasn't sure. And I had no idea of the motivation, though when it was all explained at the end, it made perfect sense! Some wry humor and stabs at the literary world and TV celebrity were a good counterpoint to the serious crimes happening. I will say the very long scene where everything is explained at the end felt...long, and perhaps dated. On the other hand, I enjoyed the very clear explanation of everything--no loose threads. Just felt like a bit of a throwback, perhaps. I'll be interested to read the next in the series.

Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The Festival Murders is an okay murder mystery. It is a quick read that would be good for a beach read or a pallet cleanser book. There was nothing new and exciting about it because it felt like a mix of between Midsomer Murders and Death in Paradise. You have the multiple deaths like in Midsomer Murders and the collect everyone together for the reveal that ends each Death in Paradise episode. So if you enjoy those shows give this one a read.
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the Festival Murders is a slow cozy mystery with  unlikable snarky character. It has a great premise and could have been so much better.
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What author wouldn't want to kill off an obnoxious, nasty book critic? Since murdering book critics is generally frowned upon in real life, authors can liberally use their books as an outlet to eliminate as many negative reviewers as they see fit. Mark McCrum uses this opportunity in The Festival Murders.

Bryce Peabody, hated book critic and serial philanderer, attends the Mold-on-Wold literary festival with his latest, younger girlfriend, Priya Kaur. Before he exposes certain members of the literary world in his talk, Celebrity and Hypocrisy, he's found dead in his hotel bed from an apparent heart attack.

Unfortunately "..the literary world's number one hatchet man" has plenty of enemies. But who would want Bryce dead? Travel writer and Priya's ex, Conal O'Hare, either one of Bryce's exes, Scarlet or Anna, or Dan Dickinson, a popular author and rival whose new bestseller Bryce tore to shreds in his review?

The Festival Murders is a cozy mystery with interesting, convincing characters and the essential surprise ending which will satisfy fans of murder mysteries. Crime writer and amateur detective, Francis Meadows,  takes the show and as often the case with cozy mysteries, renders the police redundant as background figures and solves the murder in a closed-room scenario finale. 

An engaging crime mystery perfectly timed for the holiday season.
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When I started reading The Festival Murders, it reminded me of a Wendy Holden classic with wonderfully eccentric double-barrelled names and rich descriptions of entitled and slightly ridiculous characters and I took to the story straight away. The story unfolded at a lovely pace, the plot was interesting and I was soon lost in the mystery and I thought the premise, the writer of detective stories paying detective, was original and fun. No spoilers but I was hooked on the line taken by Francis and only towards the end did I begin to suspect the truth. My one criticism was the ‘reveal’ at the end, perfect for a TV episode of Miss Marple or Poirot but a little long for a book and could have done with some more interaction from the rest of the characters. But I thoroughly enjoyed the story and will lookout for more from this author.
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This is a cozy mystery set at a literary festival in England.  I was attracted to the synopsis of the book, and I really liked the protagonist Francis Meadowes.  I also liked the author's writing style.  However, I thought the story moved along a bit too slowly at times.

I had a couple of issues with the story though.  I couldn't quite figure out how Meadowes got away with asking all those questions.  You would expect people to just tell him to mind his own business.  Also , it seemed sort of odd that the victims girlfriend moved into his room after the murder, and just ended up staying there.  After all, they were strangers to each other.

That being said, the author presented a lot of plausible motives and along with those motives, quite a number of suspects as well.  The novel was well plotted and the story ends  in a most unexpected, but believable way.  I don't think that I would ever have guessed how it ended.

I believe that this was the first book in the series. While I didn't love this one, I liked it well enough to borrow another in the series from the library.
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This is a lovely series and this book was one of the instalments.
I loved the great description of the atmosphere of the festival, the well thought and fleshed out characters, and the setting.
The mystery is solid, full of red herring and twists, and it kept me guessing till the end. The solution came as a surprise.
I can't wait to read the next instalment.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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If you are looking for a foot-to-the-floor action-packed read, full of chases and gun battles, this isn’t it. This is one of those murder mysteries where there is a dead body which sparks our sympathetic protagonist into deciding to track down his killer…  I liked the steady parade of suspects, who all had reasons of their own to wish Bryce dead and the sudden shift in pace and urgency, when there is another death. McCrum is good at giving us a steady drip-feed of plausible, three-dimensional characters without breaking the rhythm of the writing. I always prefer to really like the main protagonist – if I’m going to invest time and energy in reading a book, I’m not all that thrilled if I’m constantly grinding my teeth at the stupidity or sheer nastiness of a lead character. Francis is a thoroughly nice chap, with his own emotional wounds, that somehow drives him on to want to sort out the tangled mess surrounding Bryce’s death.

Any niggles? One that stood out glaringly. A big problem for modern writers of this particular style of genre is the sheer professionalism of our modern police force. No perspiring DI is going to turn to our brilliant-but-quirky investigator to solve the case for her, these days. I think McCrum successfully navigated his way around that hurdle throughout the investigation… just about. And then blew all believability out of the water by staging the classic denouement, where he gathered together all the suspects and walked everyone through the whole thing, before dramatically announcing the murderer. It frankly graunched, yanking me right out of the story and I’ve knocked off a point for that stunt, alone.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this classy, well plotted and enjoyable whodunit and I’ll definitely be reading more in this series. The ebook arc copy of The Festival Murders was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
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BOOK: The Festival Murders
AUTHOR: Mark McCrum

Tried a new mystery series. And I really wanted to like it. But unfortunately I did not. The male characters were pretty eye rolling in their actions and the females were not that deep or complex. The story dragged quite a bit. I don’t like to give negative reviews, so I will leave it with this: I did not expect the ending.
Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):
At the start of one of the English summer’s highlights, the annual literary festival in the pretty little country town of Mold-on-Wold, famous critic Bryce Peabody is found dead in his bed at the White Hart Hotel. At first it seems as if fifty-something Bryce might have succumbed to a heart attack, but the forensics team soon uncover evidence of something more sinister.

Bryce had made many enemies in the past, with his scandalous private life and scathing reviews. Could it be that one of the many writers he insulted in print has taken a bitter revenge? Or perhaps there’s a more personal reason? Unable to help himself, crime writer Francis Meadowes, who is also staying at the White Hart, is drawn into a role he knows only from his own fiction, that of amateur detective.

I received this book for review purposes from NetGalley. ⠀
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"He was the literary world’s number one hatchet man, the guy to whom all the others looked to set the agenda."

A literary festival.   A gaggle of authors, some of whom have pasts that are inextricably entwined.  When the first dead body appears, it could easily be chalked up to natural causes.  But when the second one is found, it starts to look "dreadfully suspicious".

Francis Meadowes is a crime fiction writer who has the rather good - or was it bad - luck to be right at the scene of the first crime.   It's inevitable that he put his lead character, investigator George Braithwaite, to the task.   "What would George Braithwaite have noticed?"

Add to that the unlikely cooperation that develops between Francis and Victoria Westcott - one of the other writers - as they pool resources to try and suss out the most likely among them to be a murderer.  It seems the solution is well in hand! 

An exceedingly good story and quite the page turner.  A few twists and turns along the way to discovery - and who doesn't like twists?   This is one that many fans of the traditional whodunit will enjoy. 

[I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via NetGalley, and am leaving an honest review of the book.   The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]
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A cozy mystery that starts strong and lacks a little of the follow through on the other side.  I think the author has the right idea and will grow in future books.
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A snarky mystery packed with famous literary names, set at a book festival. A famous critic dies, followed by a journalist, and a mystery novelist decides to play detective. Lots and lots of mostly tedious confessional passages by the other characters and an extremely long monologue by the author-cum-detective at the denouement. Catty and misogynist and ageist; not something I'd recommend.
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This is the first in a series featuring middle-of-the-road crime writer Francis Meadowes, whose own novels feature the retired forensic science professor George Braithwaite and his ‘feisty wife and sidekick Martha’. At a literary festival in the quaintly named Mold-on-Wold, somewhere in deep Englandshire, a suitably heady mix of superstar writers rub shoulders with the not-quite-so-famous wannabes. Mark McCrum, himself an ‘insider’ – if we can call him that? – shamelessly name drops everyone and everyone in the literati, which makes this a perfect amusement for those who like their books.

Bryce Peabody is ‘the literary world’s number one hatchet man’, the main literary critic for ‘The Sentinel’ who has come to the festival to deliver a devastating talk on celebrity authors and, it is rumoured, about to destroy the career of one of them. Needless to say, he is found dead the night before his talk, and our erstwhile crime writer turned amateur sleuth, the ever-persistent Francis Meadowes, takes it upon himself to investigate the death. For fans of the traditional murder mystery, every kind of suspect is here: spurned lovers, the current glamorous girlfriend, writers who have been savaged in Peabody’s writings, a group of hangers-on involved in Class A drugs… When a second death happens, the race is on the find the culprit.

This is a breezy, self-referential and amusing story. OK, the clues are there and if you guess the identity of the killer early on, it’s all pretty obvious. But McCrum has a lot of fun with the conventions of the Golden Age crime novel, and it becomes at times a pastiche of itself. Meadowes invokes the spirit of his amateur detective to help him poke around: everyone involved opens up to him, answering his most probing questions without blinking an eye; the police are happy to share information with him that defies belief; and, of course, the classic Golden Age conclusion, where all the suspects are gathered together, is arranged by Meadowes whilst even he admits: ‘Braithwaite would have hated a set-up like this – as near as dammit to the traditional “group denouement” of the Golden Age!’

It's fun, never intended to be taken too seriously, and thoroughly enjoys itself with its nods to the absurdity of the festival circuit so prevalent nowadays for writers. I shamelessly enjoyed it, and look forward to more in the series. To paraphrase Eliot’s Prufrock: this is not Agatha Christie nor was meant to be. Enjoy it for what it is and just escape for a few hours. An enjoyable 3.5 stars, happily rounded up to 4.

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)
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"Bryce Peabody is ready to give a scandalous talk at the annual literary festival in the pretty English town of Mold-on-Wold. Scathing in his reviews and unseemly in his affairs, Bryce is known to have many enemies. So when he is discovered dead in his hotel room festival-goers are desperate to know what happened. Could one of the numerous writers he insulted have taken revenge? Or perhaps one of his scorned lovers? As more festival-goers meet their ends, Francis Meadowes is drawn into a role he knows only from his own fiction; that of amateur detective."

If you're in a Midsomer Murders state of mind...
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This is the first book in a new series. Overall, I enjoyed this book, it helped fill my British mystery gap while waiting for the new season of Midsomer Murders. I enjoyed all of the little literary references and many of the characters were well-written and memorable. At time the plot didn't move as quickly as it could have and I would have liked the female characters to be a bit more developed. I look forward to seeing what crime Francis Meadowes happens upon in his next mystery.
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