Dear Miss Demeanour by Joan Hess

Dear Miss Demeanour 2At Farberville High School, a minor scandal is brewing. Emily Parchester, journalism teacher and column editor of the school paper, The Falcon Crier, has been suspended for financial irregularities. One of her students, Caron Molloy, enlists her mother to prove Miss Parchester’s innocence. Hence Claire Molloy, solver of a grand total of two murders, heads undercover to the school as Miss Parchester’s replacement. Anything’s better than minding her bookstore while noisy building work is going on outside constantly…

Needless to say, it isn’t long before someone winds up dead, poisoned by a jar of Miss Parchester’s home made peach compote – well, peach with added cyanide. Which gives Claire another chance to prove that she’s the best sleuth in town (better than her boyfriend, the head of the local police force, anyway). But with a killer on the loose – and the constant disappearances of Miss Parchester – Claire soon finds that there are worse things than having to chaperone the dance on Friday night…

This is book three in the Claire Molloy series of cosy mysteries from Joan Hess – recently released as ebooks from Bello Books. I was sent the first one, Strangled Prose, to review and liked it so much, I tried the second, The Murder At The Murder At The Mimosa Inn, which won the Puzzly for October 2014. They’re quick, fun reads with a nice line in murder and a highly enjoyable narrator. Claire has a sarcastic cynical sense of humour and I love the simple idea of her investigating on her own (rather than roping in her boyfriend Peter) simply to prove that she’s best.

Plotwise, there’s a clever twisty plot. Enough suspects to keep you looking the wrong way, not enough for you to forget who’s who. I was caught out by one half of the mystery, which I thought was pretty well done. The second part was a little disappointing but it’s a clear attempt to pull off a second surprise – it just fell a little flat for me. It’s also a shame that the part of the plot that the title refers to – an agony aunt for the newspaper – plays such a minor role in the plot, as I could imagine lots of fun to be had there.

But it’s still a highly enjoyable read – a nice break from more serious fare – and I’m looking forward to book four. Recommended.

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3 comments

  1. I attempted to read this book but I couldn’t get interested. The flippant style of writing simply didn’t work for me.
    Well, tastes vary from person to person.

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    • Humour is such a hard thing to do and probably the one thing that most people will disagree on, so it’s rare that a humourous crime book will garner a huge following. This almost exactly hits my sense of humour which is a large factor in my enjoyment. But it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, as you say.

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