Manna from Hades is the first book in the Cronish Mysteries series by Carola Dunn.
Quick Review (read on for full review)
Great setting and well thought out mystery, but I still prefer Daisy Darlymple! 3 / 5
Summary (from Goodreads)
Eleanor Trewynn is a widow of some years living in Port Mabyn, a small fishing village in Cornwall, England. In her younger days, she traveled the exotic parts of the world with her husband. These days, she’s retired and founded the local charity shop. Her niece, Megan Pencarrow, transferred nearby, and was recently promoted to the rank of Detective Sargent. Perhaps the only downside is that she is now working for a DI who doesn’t approve of women on the police force and who really doesn’t much approve of Megan’s aunt Eleanor, as she is something of a thorn in his rather substantial side.
All of these factors collide when, the day after collecting donations, Eleanor and the vicar’s wife find the dead body of a longhaired, scruffy-looking youth hidden in the stockroom of the charity shop. Then they discover that some donated jewelry thought to be fake is actually very real, very expensive, and the haul from a violent robbery in London. Making matters more complex, the corpse found in the storeroom is apparently not one of the robbers. Carola Dunn’s Manna from Hades is a confounding Cornish case of daring theft, doublecross, and a wily older woman confronted by a case of murder most foul.
“Strangers tended to be alarmed when they saw a small woman with snow-white curls twisting and twirling and making strange gestures.”
(page 5, Manna from Hades by Carola Dunn)
I wanted to read this book for two reasons: I love another series written by Carola Dunn, the Daisy Dalrymple stories, and I love Cornwall and enjoyed holidaying there with my family and friends when I was younger.
However, the book didn’t live up to my expectations, if I’m being honest. I really wanted to not only enjoy this book, but love it, and I didn’t. I felt no connection to or any interest in any of the characters or their stories. The mystery didn’t really grab at me either, although it was well thought out and well-executed. The whole book just felt a little slow to me, until the final few chapters. I also prefer the author’s writing style in her Daisy Dalrymple series. It’s lighter, I think, and feels more cosy.
Eleanor Trewynn was a difficult main character. She is so forgetful, which I understand at her age and makes sense, and would have been endearing in a minor character, but it added to the slowness and impeded the flow of the story. It also felt at odds with her being a person of such importance and strength of mind, that she could stop a civil war.
The highlight of the story was the setting. Port Mabyn, although fictional, felt very real, and the geography and descriptions of the landscape came across as authentic.
Will I be reading the next book in this series, A Colourful Death? At the moment, I’m not sure…