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. Manna from Hades is a confounding case of daring theft, doublecross, and a wily older woman confronted by a case of murder most foul.
Set in Cornwall "somewhere in the 1960s and '70s" (per an author note), this lively first in a new cozy series from British veteran Dunn (Death at Wentwater Court) introduces Eleanor Trewynn, a plucky widow who runs a charity shop in the village of Port Mabyn. Eleanor gets entangled in a murder investigation after she and her curious dog, Teazle, happen on a dead body of what first appears to be a tramp in the shop storeroom. Eleanor exasperates Detective Inspector Scumble as her less than perfect memory trickles out details of her discovery. Scumble, whose partner is on sick leave, doesn't relish pursuing the case with Eleanor's determined niece, Det. Sgt. Megan Pencarrow, who has to continually prove herself to the gruff, old-school inspector. Adept at showing character through witty dialogue, Dunn paints an amusing picture of a small town that readers will want to visit again soon. (Mar.)
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March 16, 2009
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