The Case of the Dotty Dowager is a pleasant little cozy mystery, quick and easy to read. It concerns the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency (named because its four members are Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English) and their latest case. The book starts off in a very cozy-ish way – with a dead body in a country manor house (or, at least, in its Dower House).
The book is slow starting, which is a bit of a drag for such a short book, but it gets much better once the relating of all the character introductions and background information is out of the way. The Case of the Dotty Dowager is the first in a series, and I think later entries will be better since they can skip all the back story. I had a hard time picturing the four women and keeping them straight at first. The author tried hard to differentiate them – sometimes a little too hard, as we are told, for example, that Christine has “Mensa brilliance,” “a Mensa-sharp mind,” and a “Mensan brain.” OK, got it, Christine is the extra-smart one!
The Wales setting is fun and will appeal to the armchair traveler or lover of the United Kingdom. The women are of different ages and life situations in addition to different nationalities, and that adds some flavor to the group and their relationships. The dowager (who is not, in fact, at all dotty) and her little dog bring some comic relief.
A mysterious man who gets pulled into the agency’s present inquiry takes an action towards the end that I found pretty inexplicable, and the ending is abrupt and somewhat lame. (I actually wondered if the advance copy was incomplete, but I don’t think that’s the case based on the announced published page count.)
There is much room for growth in future entries. The Case of the Dotty Dowager will appeal to fans of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series. I read a digital advance reader copy from netgalley.com. The Case of the Dotty Dowager will be published on July 1. It will be available at the library in the new fiction area under the author’s last name, ACE.