“A cracking example of cosy crime” – Katie Fforde
Order at your local bookshop quoting ISBN 978-1-911223-13-9
“I saw clear and pressing potential for a series when I was halfway through Best Murder in Show, and I wanted to be in that bookshop having coffee with Sophie serving me.” – Rosalind Minett, commenting on the Authors Electric blog
“You’re not allowed out of the house until you’ve finished the next on” – a neighbour’s comment
“Did I like Sophie Sayers? I liked her so much I want to meet her!” – David Penny
(from Amazon or Goodreads unless otherwise stated)
Review on Bookmuse Book Blog – Jill Marsh
With a cast of eccentric characters such as the quirky local shopkeeper, the amiable drunk, the lecherous amateur dramatist, the bookseller with a secret and the writing group which fines members 10p per cliché, this gentle crime caper is lively, funny and the perfect antidote to watching the news. What’s more, it would make the ideal Radio Four serial or BBC Sunday evening programme.
- You’ll enjoy this if you like: The Janice Gentle books by Mavis Cheek, Agatha Raisin mysteries, Lilian Jackson’s cat mysteries.
- Avoid if you dislike: very English settings, cosy crime.
- Ideal accompaniments: Scones and honey, ‘special’ tea and summer birdsong through an open window.
A worthy addition to the Cotswold cozy crime fold – Rebecca Lang
Debbie Young’s Best Murder In Show is a worthy addition to the Costwold cosy crime fold. Her protagonist Sophie Sayers proves there’s nothing restful or retiring about village life (despite what she might initially think), where murder and mayhem prove to be only a turn of a page away. Death, drama and dastardly deeds (intertwined with some unexpected romance) await the mystery genre’s latest would-be sleuth in this, the first of a promising series. I really enjoyed this tale and look forward to more of Sophie’s adventures.
Murder in an English village – Helena Halme
f you like cozy mysteries set in the English countryside, this is the perfect book for you. Lovers of Agatha Christie will rejoice with the murder that occurs at a village fete, and the burgeoning romance included in the plot. The pace is nice and slow, yet you find yourself returning to the pages of this competently written novel any free moment you have!
An easy and satisfying read – Martin Brown
I can’t decide if this book is amusingly charming or charmingly amusing. Debbie Young infuses her quirky sense of humour into this story of a young woman, returning to a typical small English village, having inherited a cottage from her celebrity author aunt. She is confronted by the usual array of village people (but no native Americans, and no YMCA) and there is a suspicious death. The mystery is just one part of this lovely story about Sophie coming to terms with her new environment. An easy and very satisfying read.
A gentle stroll through the village – Monica Mac
This was a light and fun read, the first book by this author I have read.
Sophie Sayers finds herself permanently living in a village, after inheriting a cottage from her great-aunt May who was a famous travel writer. Hard shoes to fill and the fact that she looks like her aunt doesn’t help. It’s fun reading about how Sophie tries to settle into making things work in a different setting to what she is accustomed to. Sophie is kind of “finding herself” and she tries hard to figure out what she wants to do and how best to achieve it. She is also getting to know the villagers, with all their little quirks. Oh yes, there is a dead body involved along the way as well, just to add to the excitement of life in the village.
Other than the obvious drawback of everyone knowing your business, it sounds like it would be a lot of fun living Sophie’s life.
This was a recommended read from me.
A fun slice of village life – Ellie
Best Murder in Show is a lovely, fun read. The village in which the book is set is full of quirky and engaging characters. For me the book came alive on the arrival of the charismatic Hector and it was then an enjoyable romp to the end. A perfect summer read. I was given a free copy of this book for the purposes of providing a review and look forward to more from Debbie Young and Sophie Sayers.
Summertime fun with a devious discover – Mari Howard
Here’s a really cosy Cosy Mystery, set in a believable Cotswold village and guaranteed to appeal to nostalgic readers. Curl up with Best Murder in Show and a mug of cocoa, and delight in the summery scenes of village life with a twist!
Debbie Young’s debut novel stands on the solid ground of her Flash Fiction books, published over the past few years, and maintains the warm humorous gaze at English village life, in the best of all possible traditions. The story opens with a sketch of the discovery of something untoward at the annual Village Show, on a hot, sunny, summer afternoon. The kind of afternoon which is set with blue sky, a few fluffy clouds, bright flowers, and the gentle buzzing of bees.
As a writer, and village resident deeply involved in local life, Young has ample experiences to draw on to describe the various local clubs and groups, the shop as centre of rumour and exchange of news, and the “newcomer”. Our newcomer here is Sophie Sayers, aged 25, full of anxious optimism and seeing herself as the writer to step into her famous, now deceased, Aunt May’s shoes, as well as the cottage she’s inherited.
A good start for a series of mysteries for this young 21st-century Miss Marple to inherit, and a fun holiday read.
A charming romp through village life! I loved it! – Francis Guenette
If you want a charming romp through the village life of Wendlebury Barrow spiced up with a taste of mystery, romance and bit of mayhem, Best Murder in Show is the book for you. Main character, Sophie Sayers, is a delight. An aspiring novelist, she is determined to remake herself nestled in the cottage her aunt has left her in Wendlebury Barrow. Her mind filled with the words of her ex-boyfriend – you will be murdered in your bed – she sees disaster around every corner. But not one to shy away from her new life, Sophie plunges in with both feet. A well-formed group of secondary characters and a parade for Village Show Day round out the fun. I’ve just read that author Debbie Young is hard at work on another book about Wendlebury. I can’t wait. The book is worth the read just for Young’s description of gardens and hedgerows!
Already looking forward to the next in the series – Ava D Reader
A super little murder from Debbie Young. I’ve long been a fan of her short stories, but it feels like she’s really found her genre in the literary realm of cosy village murders. A likable heroine, a cast of colourful village characters and a nice intriguing murder to solve. What’s not to like?
I read this the day after the 2017 Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival (organised and run by Debbie) and it was the perfect way to keep the warmth of the festival going.
My only complaint (and it’s the reason I didn’t give 5 stars) is a small one – the size of the print. I was just about OK if I wore my reading glasses, but I loaned the book to my partially sighted mother and she needed her spectacles and a magnifying glass. the fact that she persevered is testimony to how much she was enjoying the story, but a slightly larger font would be much nicer. Of course this wouldn’t be a problem with an eBook, but eBooks aren’t everybody’s cup of tea.
Eccentric and engaging characters in a cosy mystery – Lucienne Boyce
A lovely first novel from Debbie Young, author of witty short stories. The book has a lovely setting and Sophie and Hector are characters you really care about. The opening set up is very good: unusual, eccentric, and entertaining, and the story goes on to live up to its opening. The writing is an easy-flowing, accessible style with a warm and sympathetic narrative voice, and the book is well observed with some nice comic touches. I look forward to reading the next Sophie Sayers Mystery. Disclosure: I was a beta reader for the book, and this is my honest opinion of the completed novel.
Cosy mystery or comic mystery? – Shepline
Debbie Young’s debut novel (she is the author already of various anthologies of short stories and non-fiction) is billed as a cosy-mystery – I would suggest the term comic-mystery – there are so many slight, humorous
Perhaps unsurprising for a novel that comes from the pen of an author who is also active in the Alliance of Independent Authors (I half-expected there to be a direct mention at one of the many village meetings!) and who is the founding director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival, this is a murder mystery that exudes literary and other bookish references. Take the Sophie Sayer’s name for instance. I’m really hoping that Hector Munro might become her Lord Peter Whimsy.
The story begins at the village show, a highpoint in any yearly calendar, and in the shocking discovery of murder in a manner reminiscent of those pre-opening titles moments that anyone who has watched Death in Paradise will be familiar with. The story winds back two months to Sophie’s arrival in the village to live in the house she has inherited from her aunt (has another murder taken place here too?). If I can leverage any criticism of this mystery is that much as I love reading the excentricities of the Cotswold village life I did at times want to move on to the murder and solving thereof the mystery a little bit quicker.
Sophie though, is a character with her own backstory that is not as simple as you might think (don’t all detectives have a troubled backstory?) and she must grapple with her own insecurities and life as she stumbles through her own over-active imagination about what the villagers might be like and be capable of before she can solve the mystery at hand. Surely Carol, the gossiping proprietor of the village shop who is every bit a Susan Carter out The Archers, is capable of killing people, or if not has the motivations to do so.
I shall look forward to seeing where Sophie’s next adventure takes us.
Cosy, fluent, easy reading – D N Worthington
Leaving her unrewarding boyfriend for an enviable cottage that she’s inherited, the heroine quickly involves herself in village life. Her deceased aunt has thoughtfully provided for her in a variety of ways, but is there murder involved? None of our heroine’s fears are justified but then there really is a murder, most unexpected and ingenious.
This really is feel-good writing. The heroine is an attractive personality, easy to identify with; there’s an intriguing male around; a little mystery to unravel here and there and a range of varied village characters. The plot unfolds well, but it is the fluency of the writing that really impresses. For cosy mystery murder lovers, this is a gem. My prediction is that the author has found her true niche and that a long list of village stories will now follow with an increasingly dedicated readership.
A beguiling mystery – Ali Bacon
Being well acquainted with this author’s excellent short stories I was well up for a cheery few hours in the company of her new heroine Sophie Sayers who, as the book opens, has been bequeathed a country cottage by her aunt and is hoping to carve out a career as a writer. The opening certainly didn’t disappoint with a hilarious village show rounded off with the discovery of the obligatory corpse on one of the carnival floats. But is it really a murder? Sophie’s past experience makes her hyper-sensitive to any hint of crime and the reader looks on with some scepticism as her hackles are raised by everyone from a harmless-looking neighbour to the malapropistic village shopkeeper. Then there’s the love interest in the form of toga-clad Hector, book-shop owner and Sophie’s boss, who sets hearts a flutter despite compelling evidence that ladies, unlike books, are certainly not his bag. From the point of the murder we go back to Sophie’s earlier arrival in the village which allows us to learn about its customs and characters and her own aspirations. Although there are a few red herrings to keep us guessing I found myself impatient to get back to where we had begun but in the end Sophie’s nose for crime doesn’t let her down and the denouement is as deft and funny as the opening with a satisfactory tying up of loose ends to finish off with.
Sophie herself is highly congenial and I particularly like how she interacts with the memory of her aunt and their affection for one another. A beguiling look at village life with a murder thrown in for good measure. I’ll be interested to see what Sophie gets up to next.
A light, frothy concoction you won’t be able to put down – Vesuvio
I am not a cosy mystery reader but having really enjoyed two of Debbie Young’s short story collections I decided to give it a go and was not disappointed. Confined to the sofa with a broken ankle Best Murder in Show was the perfect antidote – lighthearted, witty, full of wordplay and a great cast of characters. Sophie Sayers is a charming, naive and slightly ditsy heroine, suspecting everyone of murder and then unmasking the real culprit more by accident and design. Young writes with a light touch and a sharp wit that had me chuckling out loud and turning the pages.
Blue Ribbon Mystery – Crime Fan
This is a thoroughly enjoyable cosy mystery, full of comedy, wit and a touch of wisdom too. Sophie Sayers is an ‘innocent abroad’ in the English village context when she takes possession of her late aunt’s cottage in Wendlebury. She is quite unaware that she is also a disrupter of the status quo of village life as she goes about the mundane tasks of settling in. She is a likeable lens through which the reader learns about the eccentric villagers, most of whom are suspects in a devious murder at the annual show. Sophie made me smile a lot, sometimes chuckle and sometimes shake my head. She misinterprets what she observes, cannot see what is in plain view and solves the mystery quite by accident. Young writes fluent, readable prose that kept me turning the pages. Best Murder in Show is a wry, clever, good-hearted novel which I warmly recommend. I was lucky to receive a copy to review in advance of publication.
Gentle, cosy mystery – very enjoyable! – Maria Staal
This is a gentle cosy mystery that I very much enjoyed reading.
The characters are well described and interesting. Village life is often an important part of a cosy mystery and that is no different in this book.
Feathers are going to be ruffled, specially when the village fair brings out competition and egos. The heroin is trying to find her footing in her new chosen home and is soon part of it all.
I’m looking forward to reading more about Sophie Sayers in the future.
Warm and witty – KS303
I should first say that I have been lucky enough to read a review copy of this book. I have also read some of Debbie Young’s other books, of short stories, and I would say that the style I’ve become familiar with is definitely present here (a good thing!). Warm and witty, the description of English village life is excellent, and I particularly like Carol from the village shop – I think everyone knows a Carol. I enjoyed getting to know Sophie, who is an engaging character, and the love interest – although definitely there – does not take over the book. Instead, we see Sophie getting over her old no-good boyfriend, settling into life in her late aunt’s cottage, in a small village where everybody knows each other and, consequently, each other’s goings on. She is key to uncovering the central story of the murder, the method of which is unusual and imaginative (I shall say no more than that), which I like and I hope sets the tone for future books in the series.
A lovely entertaining read – Anita Davison
I have been looking forward to reading this novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The character of Sophie is engaging from the first page, with all the flaws and insecurities of a twenty-something having finished a relationship and striking out on her own. She comes to live in the cottage she has inherited from her travel writer Great Aunt May where she hopes to embark on her own writing career.
Sophie throws herself into Cotswold village life with enthusiasm, from helping to organise the village show, to the writer’s group which fines anyone for using a cliché – an idea I am tempted to use myself as, like Sophie, I had no idea how many pop into my head. By the end of the book I could probably afford coffee for two and flapjacks at Costa.
Sophie is incredibly nice, so much so, that when she receives oblique insults from the resident snob, the strange old man next door and the village letch, she doesn’t respond in kind but lets them wash over her.
Her Aunt May’s death is not viewed as suspicious by anyone in the village, but for some reason, Sophie has a nagging feeling that someone might have done away with the old lady and she looks for culprits everywhere. There were a couple of incidences where I wanted to yell in her ear ‘Well isn’t it obvious?’ but that was the fun of the book – that to Sophie it wasn’t.
This being a cosy, Sophie’s fears become a self-fulfilling prophesy [more a figure of speech than a cliché] and a murder does indeed happen during the village show.
A feel-good, entertaining read with some clever word play that made me laugh, this is the type of book which makes you anticipate a quiet moment so you can get back to it. Perfect in a sun lounger with a cool drink by your side. Well done to Debbie Young on such a fabulous debut novel. I eagerly anticipate more in this series in which I hope the lovely Hector features.
Best Murder in Show – Intheamazone
A lighthearted, very enjoyable “cosy” mystery. More character introduction than actual mystery with a transparent plot but very enjoyable nonetheless. I understand, from the author notes, that this book is the first in a series of books featuring Sophie Sayers, a very agreeable character. A pleasant way to spend a relaxing hour and I look forward to reading the next in the series.
Warm and witty. Already looking forward to the next one! – Keats Babe
I love Debbie Young’s writing. It is full of warmth, witty characters and wonderful humour. This is her first novel (do read her short stories – Marry In Haste is a lovely collection for example) and it introduces us to Sophie Sayers, named after Young’s favourite crime writer (mine too!) Dorothy L Sayers. This is a real page turner, and a proper feel good book – Debbie Young is an author whose aim is to make you smile, and in this book there are characters to make you giggle and clever lines worthy of Dorothy herself.
I would love to have given this 5 stars for the pure escapism the author gave me, but it is described as cosy crime, and in this first book of a series I look forward to getting into, the crime is more a backdrop to the character development and the plot that is most definitely romantic rather than very mysterious or suspenseful. But that is a small gripe.This is certainly a series to watch out for.
Fun and witty read you’ll want to pick up – Amie McCracken
For an entertaining, fun, and witty read you’ll want to pick up this Sophie Sayers book. I couldn’t put it down because the characters are real, the twists are humorous as well as shocking. In a little village story, with a wide cast from the nosy shop owner to the village drunk, everyone with their varied differences comes together for the summer show. The story is injected with comedy amongst the crime and you will have trouble not falling in love with the flawed and adorable Sophie.
A highly recommended read for all fans of classic mysteries – David Penny
Debbie Young is best known for her short stories, full of wit and with a clever look on life. Best Murder in Show is her first foray into longer fiction, but she has managed to bring all the aspects that make her writing so enjoyable to this, the first in what I hope will be a fun series.
Sophie Sayers, young, too innocent for her own good, and escaping a failed relationship arrives in sleepy Wendlebury Barrow to inherit her aunt’s cottage. She is expecting life to be quiet, until there is a murder during the local village show.
The book contains a surfeit of suspects, much clever word play, and a plot that will keep you reading long after you should have gone to sleep.
A highly recommended read for all fans of classic mysteries.
Order at your local bookshop quoting ISBN 978-1-911223-13-9