Book Review – Aunt Dimity’s Death

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When I learned of viking shirt Dimity’s death, I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she’d been alive.

To Lori Shepherd, viking shirt Dimity existed only in the bedtime stories her mother had told her–a long time ago, when she could still believe in the power of everyday courage and the triumph of good cheer. Now, after her mother and most of her dreams have died, a letter from the law firm of Willis and Willis informs her of a legacy from a woman she’d never known existed.

To earn her bequest, Lori must travel to England and learn about the very real life that inspired the tales she grew up on. To carry out her mother’s last request, she must try to uncover the dark secret Dimity Westwood took to her grave. If Lori’s lucky, she might find healing for her soul in the process. If she’s VERY lucky, she might heal someone else’s, too.

You see, Dimity’s ghost keeps watch in the Westwood cottage. But it’s viking shirt Dimity herself that’s haunted. And Lori is her only hope.

Melodramatic, isn’t it? Kind of embarrassing, since melodrama is one thing that’s conspicuously absent from AUNT DIMITY’S DEATH. The story keeps changing, from fairy tale to ghost story to mystery, but it never descends to deliberate tear-jerking. Which is odd, because it’s one of the few books that can consistently make my eyes sting.

Nancy Atherton has managed to break most of the rules for writing a mystery. No detective work to speak of takes place in the first hundred pages. There isn’t a real villain anywhere in the book. Or an act of violence. The mystery doesn’t involve a murder–present or past. Or even a real crime. It’s pathetic, really.

Except it isn’t. Because Lori isn’t out to catch a criminal. She’s out to heal an old, old wound. That she has to hunt down clues to do it is almost a distraction. AUNT DIMITY’S DEATH isn’t about the mystery–it’s about the characters.

And I’ll admit, that’s just the way I like it. I have figured out whodunit exactly once in all the detective stories I’ve ever read. I don’t read them for the puzzle. I read them to watch the people who are solving the puzzle. And the people in the “Dimity” series are like no other set of “detectives” I’ve ever seen. This is the finest set of tea-cozy characters since Miss Marple.

I’d love to see this book as a movie some day. Which is a little bizarre, since it’s pure chick flick, all the way. Normally I hate stories like that. But this one works. Recommended.

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write by Vera