Reviews of “Trick or Murder?”

cover of "Trick or Murder?"
Available in paperback and Kindle ebook

Order at your local bookshop
quoting ISBN 978-1-911223-20-7
or buy online here


Cosy Crime at its FinestElizabeth Gates

Cosy crime at its finest – bloodshed at its absolute minimum! This is the way to spend a cold afternoon by the fire. Intriguing questions raised at every turn and a nice twist at the end which I wasn’t expecting (partly because I was enjoying the journey). The creepy element is just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat but not uncomfortably so. And the bookshop is a bookshop every village should have (although few now do!)


An Enjoyable Cosy Mystery to Make You SmileWendy Percival

I read the sample pages of Trick or Murder? and it made me laugh so I bought a copy. It’s the second in Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers cosy Village Mysteries series. Although I haven’t read the first book it didn’t stop me enjoying Trick or Murder? as it’s a stand-alone story.

Our protagonist Sophie is a relative newcomer who has come to live in the Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow after inheriting her great aunt’s cottage.

There is something delightfully traditional about the book (and the series as a whole, I’m sure), with its village setting, full of interesting, often quirky, characters, some of whom are regulars (there is reference to the previous story so the reader has an inkling of what happened before) and others who have a part in the current story. In this case, the new vicar causes a stir when he arrives to take up his post and strange things begin to happen as Hallowe’en draws closer…

An enjoyable and entertaining read, especially if you like your mysteries gentle in nature and with a touch of humour.


Spooky Fun Cozy Mystery – Lynn U Watson

Love getting lost in these cozy mysteries featuring Sophie Sayers. Debbie provides another fun mysterious read – a little on the spooky side too. Already looking forward to the next one.


From the Mystery People website – Christine Hammacott

Set around the time of Halloween, the vicar bans any kind of festivities. Bonfire Night will be the only celebration and the hilarious opening chapter portrays a visiting American couple viewing our British customs as weird and somewhat scary as they speed through Wendlebury Barrow towards the safety of a town.

The opening however is a foreshadowing of the unfolding story. The local children have all been encouraged to create Guy Fawkes’ but one of the ones on the bonfire is actually a real person. Who is on the bonfire and why? Are they dead or alive? Will they be found? These are the questions that stay with the reader as they progress through this warm and witty, feel-good novel. (For the full review on the Mystery People website, please click here)


Compelling, comforting – “Lisa K”Amazon Customer

“I am really enjoying this series. You want to meet the characters, live in the village, have a tea with a shot of something at Hectors House… Reading these books is as comforting as eating a chocolate bar, and it lasts much longer.”


Two down and only one to go – boo!Susan Grossey

“Debbie, you had better sharpen those pencils and get writing – I’m going through these Sophie Sayers books at a rate of knots! I have already gobbled down the second in the series – this one – and am having to ration the third, otherwise I’ll have none left. I already feel that I know all the characters well, and am enjoying learning more about them and watching them make mistakes, assumptions and good and bad choices, just like the rest of us. Lots of lovely turns of phrase too – you have the perfect writing style for cosy crime.”


Easy read, not too tenseSue A

“Another nice enjoyable read. Getting to know the characters and loving the depiction of village life. Debbie’s books aren’t so tense that I have to put them down and cool off (which I hate now in a book). In fact, I romped through this one and the others.”


Read the first one and loved it so bought the second and loved that too. – Adrienne B

“I like Sophie Sayers and her friends, they are all just lovely characters and the plot is great.”


Another page turner“Dab Reader”

Really enjoyed this second book in the Sophie Sayers mystery series. I am loving the village characters that pop up in these stories, especially the naughty teenager! Intrigue and cosy- all in all, a relaxing and entertaining read.


The old doppelganger myth, which dictates that if you ever meet your double, you die“Shepline”

This is the second of Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, and as the name suggests the mystery in this book is, as the title suggests, is it a Trick or Murder?

This is no psychological thriller or Nordic Noir, but a cosy mystery and its suitably warm and comforting (even if it is set in the cold, and crisp Autumn days in the run-up to Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. It’s not so much a whodunnit as a whendunnit, beginning as it does with a flash-forward to a scene near the end of the book that hints at the murder to come, so we are left for the rest of the story watching events, reading characters, and trying to wonder who will be murdered and by whom.

It all starts when the new vicar arrives in town, the delicously evil Reverend Neap. Not since J.K. Rowling’s Professor Umbridge have we had a character of such pure evil. Actually, I think just like in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when I remember thinking, okay yeah, I’ve got it now, she’s evil, so I did at times think that in this book as Debbie Young spooned more Neap evil into the story. He was a character that for this reason I both wanted to have him murder and to last for the rest of the series of the books, being just this side of the law in the way he changes the village life of Wendlebury Barrow.

The counter side of this novel is the burgeoning relationship of Sophie Sayers and Hector Munro. Whilst we all know what will happen, and want it to happen, I cannot be alone can I in wanting it to be a bit more of a slow build. I see Sophie as young and hesitant, damaged by a previous relationship, and Hector as shy and bumbling, and I wanted to enjoy some more will-they, won’t they to their relationship. Meanwhile, Sophie’s character is possibly just a little too precise and structured. I wanted her to be more impetuous than comes across in the writing that is told through her eyes.

Lastly, Carol, in the village… She is Susan from the The Archers, isn’t she? Don’t you think?


A light touch – Chris Calder

Having read and enjoyed Debbie Young’s short stories, I came to this book knowing something of her relaxed style. I wasn’t far into ‘Trick or Murder’ when I realized that I should have read ‘Best Murder in Show’ first, because I did not know the characters. But it did not matter; it was not long before I was hooked.

The author delivers the story in such a way that it flows easily, drawing the reader on effortlessly with a light, engaging touch. Give yourself a treat, read this book. But if you haven’t already read the first in the series, Best Murder in Show, read that first, as I should have done. It’s an oversight that I will remedy immediately.


Charming village life Monica Mac

We continue the story of Sophie Sayer in this second book in the series, which are set in the village of Wendlebury Barrow.

Now, I have never lived in an English village but this sounds pretty much like how I imagine them to be: full of people who are community minded, where traditions are important, a place where people can leave the door unlocked and obviously where everybody knows everybody else’s business!

I enjoyed this book, it was an uncomplicated, easy read. The villagers are charming, there is a bit of drama which made me wonder where the story was heading and the romance between Sophie and Hector is slowly developing.

A recommended read from me.


Sophie’s first Halloween in Wendlebury BarrowAnita Davison

I enjoyed Ms Young’s first cosy, Best Murder in Show, and have been looking forward to reading the further adventures of Sophie and Hector.

Sophie Sayers is settling into Wendlebury Barrow village life, but as we all know the picture postcard village doesn’t exist and this one harbours as many ambitions, resentments and secrets as any other.

Her suspicions about an obnoxious new vicar crystalises when odd things start to happen which slow down her growing passion for Hector, her boss and owner of the bookshop where she works. Vicar Neep apparently hates Halloween but openly encourages the Fifth of November, even throws his own party for the village – and that’s when things go horribly wrong.

The characters are lovely, from the kindly if slightly sinister Joshua, the feckless but funny Billy and Carol, the kindly singleton desperate for a man who muddles her vocabulary. I found it took over half the book to get to the actual murder, and sometimes I wondered where it was going with the lengthy details of village activities. However that didn’t spoil the journey through village life and community, which sounds idyllic if a little dull for a twenty-five year old but Sophie loves it – and there is Hector. In fact I hope this proves to be a long-term relationship, if not, there are few options in the village for Sophie.

Just when I was getting too complacent, there was a great twist at the end. This was a lovely, relaxing read for the dark winter evenings. I’m looking forward to the next book, Murder in the Manger.


Cosy, even innocent, contrast to all that is darkMari Howard

In this the second of the Sophie Sayers mystery series, author Debbie Young has really got into her stride, moving from flash fiction to full-length novels. The mystery series continues the cosy feel of Pendlebury Barrow village life, and wide-eyed Sophie is now well settled in her job at the bookshop, Hector’s House. Trick or Murder, beginning as autumn sets in, benefits from the creepiness of Hallowe’en followed by the excitement of Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night, as the villagers prepare to enjoy both to the full. And this is definitely Guy Fawkes!

Knowing this author’s fondness for the detective stories of Dorothy L Sayers, discovering a mystery develops around the new Vicar was no surprise! Are there also echoes of the works of Susan Cooper, to be unearthed in the plot? I certainly wondered whether or not Sophie had read Cooper’s books as a child, but decided probably not, as she would surely have remembered, and commented, as the mystery deepens.
On the other hand, maybe she was too busy enjoying her developing relationship with Hector in this story?

I found Sophie had happily matured somewhat since her first appearance in Wendlebury Barrow, and enjoyed how the characters are developing into a cohesive and almost believable community. Their lives, centred around bookshop, village shop, and the school, sound so enviable. Altogether a great relaxing and pleasingly escapist read for the winter fire side. What will the next season, Christmas, bring for Sophie to investigate?


A seasonal cosy treat Ava D Reader

Another cosy treat from Debbie Young. The second Sophie Sayers’ mystery. An irascible new vicar joins the quirky cast of characters from the first book and we see how Wendlebury Barrow goes about celebrating Halloween and Bonfire Night. Surely this village is becoming as dangerous as any Midsummer location. A nice gentle murder in the traditional English style with plenty of humour and a glimpse of a vanishing world that, fortunately, still exists in country outposts.


Good characterisation and plot  – Frodo

This is a really enjoyable whodunit, good characterisation and plot. Waiting for the third book to come out.


Five stars Janice



The perfect read during Halloweed and Guy FawkesRebecca L Brain

This was the perfect read during the Halloween and Guy Fawkes season and it took me back to wonderful autumnal days in the English village where I lived for many years. Looking forward to the next story in the series!


Four StarsLady P

Good read.


Five Stars“Amazon Customer”

My first time reading this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!


A Perfect Autumn Read – Equal Parts Charm, Humor and IntrigueShay Tressa DeSimone

After my first introduction to Wendlebury Barrow in “Best Murder in Show”, it was a delight to return to the quaint Cotswold village — and its plucky, sleuthing heroine — in “Trick or Murder”. In Debbie Young’s latest mystery, the village’s new vicar quickly becomes a thorn in the side of Sophie, Hector, and most of their fellow villagers. Sophie’s imagination tends to run wild at times, but it’s clear she might be onto something this time. “Trick or Murder” is a perfect autumn read, with equal parts charm, humor, and intrigue. Each novel in the series is a complete story (no major cliffhangers, which I know can frustrate some readers), but ends with a teaser of some interesting developments to come in the next book. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of “Murder in the Manager” — I’m sure there’s no place quite like Wendlebury Barrow for the holidays!


Another cup of hemlock, vicar?Celia Boyd

Another enchanting Sophie Sayers rose scented murder! Debbie Young holds the mirror up to village life but she is always tolerant and compassionate, never cruel, and these murderous fairy tales are engrossing. How she contrives to hold the reader, totally mesmerised “whilst these visions did appear”—that is the real mystery!

In Trick or Murder a bogus vicar materialises and pours —not oil but vitriol— over the Halloween celebrations. He seems to approve of the Fifth of November however, and we learn the ghoulish truth . He wants to host a bonfire party as he has a body to dispose of. But thank Goodness, our heroine recognises—–no I wont go on, but the hapless victim does not become the Sunday Roast. Don’t try this at home, children!

What we want to know is when will Sophie and Hector get their kit off. I have great hopes for Murder in the Manger, out in November.


Funny lighthearted read Jo

Funny lighthearted read which pulls you into the amusing world of Sophie and all the characters in her village. Mystery and laughter afoot! Well described places and scenes keep you happily entrenched in Sophie’s world until the novels satisfying conclusion.


Debbie Young’s prolific Facebook posts reveal that she lives a life a tiny bit like her heroine, SophieMike Stone

This is an impressive book, the 2nd in the Sophie Sayers series. The paper is whiter, the print is bigger, and the dialogue more beguiling. The story has reminders of Agatha Christie and Joanna Trollope, but the characters are warmer than either of those authors’ creations. Debbie Young’s prolific Facebook posts reveal that she lives a life a tiny bit like her heroine, Sophie. So this book is a great for those who adore the life of the English village. It has the full balenciaga – village pub, rotting apples under gnarled trees, village school, local copper obsessed with health and safety, village show, brimming pint mug of punch, village Halloween, A Grim Reaper, Guy Fawkes, special cream in your tea, literary group, village mums and a romance, plus slaughter as zest. My only quibble is that Hector, the bookshop owner, seems stolid in the early part of the story. Perhaps he will bash a tourist with a lexicon in Book 3.


Debbie Young is back, with Sophie Sayers’ second outingShaun Ivory

Debbie Young is back, with Sophie Sayers’ second outing, Trick or Murder? Written with her usual deft touch and a sprinkling of sparkle this time it involves not only Halloween but Guy Fawkes, plus setting the village alight with rumours that surround the new vicar and his deranged sense of morality, leaving the usually happy-go-lucky inhabitants with a feeling that ‘Killjoy was here’. But who is the man in the day-glo socks and why is the Reverend Neep such a creep? There’s murder in the air as well as treats; the trick is sorting out the clues from the red herrings. As if that weren’t enough, the ever-optimistic Sophie is still hoping to envelope the hunky Hector in her own web of desire. One feels that if anyone can do it – she can! So if you’re a fully paid-up member of the ‘cozy crime club’ then this one is definitely for you!


Murder doesn’t get much betterLondon Lass

The second of Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, life in the sweet British village of Wendlebury Barrow gets even more murderous. There’s a gloriously over-the-top killing, a romantic riddle for Sophie (did Hector kiss her out of kindness or are her feelings for him reciprocated?) and a believable cast of characters. With lashings of humour and frequent cliffhangers, cozy mystery doesn’t get better than this.


A great story and a fun read PJ

A great story! Lots of odd things, sometimes rather laboured detail and dialogue, but I absolutely had to keep reading.

It begins with American tourists in England who don’t know about November 5th but Google is at hand. We are told a real body is to be burned along with the many Guy Fawkes’s. This certainly grabbed my attention.

What an entrance the ghastly sinister vicar makes! But is he real? Doesn’t want the local school to use the internet, barges into the pub and condemns people for having a harmless drink, and that’s just the beginning.

Having read Best Murder in Show, I already felt Billy, Joshua and Donald were old friends, and I liked them more as I got to know them. Joshua in particular is a stable and compassionate character in a shifting universe. I loved Hector’s ‘tunes for everyone’ and all the literary references.

There are some wonderful moments, like when the evil vicar is talking to the little schoolkids and the parents are letting off steam later. There’s never a dull moment with the enigmatic Hector in the bookshop.

The mock tension grows and there is a reference the The Wicker Man. Village life has a momentum all of its own and Halloween will be enjoyed, come what may. The grim reaper is theatrical and terrifying. The vicar in church is odd – why is this?

Great twist at the end – I’m looking forward to the next ‘cosy’ read!


Order at your local bookshop
quoting ISBN 978-1-911223-20-7
or buy online here