Amateur sleuth Simon Kirby-Jones is not only American and gay but also a vampire whose sun sensitivity and blood sucking urges are controlled by medication. (Garlic, though, can be deadly.) Thrilled to be living in England, he is eager to make the village of Snupperton Mumsley his home, where he plans to write more of his well-known historical works and lucrative pot-boilers.
Seeking to become part of the community, Simon joins the fundraising committee of St. Ethelwold's, the local church. At the first meeting an argument erupts between Lady Prunella Blitherington, matriarch of the village's first family, and Abigail Winterton, the town busybody and postmistress, about the choice of the play to be presented as the fundraiser. When Abigail, disliked by almost everyone, is found murdered the next day, Simon determines to find her killer and in so doing discovers all the sordid secrets of Snupperton Mumsley.
When I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be very difficult to pull together gay vampires and English mystery novels. I was right.
The book was a fun read, but felt fragmented at times. In the midst of waxing poetic about the rich English landscape, the author would interject comments about the Road Runner or crystal meth users in California. The comments were meant to be amusing, but just feel really out of place.
This is a mystery, and is not recommended for those looking for horror.
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Popular author Simon Kirby-Jones gets more than he bargained for when he moves to the quaint British village of Snupperton Mumsley . . . and so does the village, even though as a gay vampire, Simon might seem to fit right into Snupperton Mumsley, which brims with scandal, gossip-mongering, back-stabbing, and-fortunately for Simon-dishy men. He divides his drooling between tweedy vicar Neville Butler-Melville, rugged bookstore owner Trevor Chase, and Byronic aristocrat Giles Blitherington. All reciprocate to varying degrees. Another stroke of luck is meeting fellow vampire Jane Hamilton, who becomes Simon's confidante and, later, Watson to his Holmes. All five belong to the Snupperton Mumsley Amateur Dramatic Society (SMADS), whose meetings inevitably devolve into showdowns between Giles's mother Lady Prunella Blitherington, the village Lady Bracknell, and horse-faced Abigail Winterton, the local postmistress whose job gives her access to everybody's dirty little secrets. Other SMADS members include crusty Colonel Clitheroe, Trevor's colorless wife Letty, and randy Samantha Stevens. When Lady Prunella proposes the staging of a new play by Giles as a fundraiser, Abigail trumps her with the promise of an explosive new drama, written by a local and sure to shock everyone in the village. The next day, Abigail is found strangled. Simon can't resist solving the crime. Oddly, Simon's vampirism figures not at all and his gayness very little in the one-dimensional plot. The character names in James's first novel, written with clunky good cheer, give an accurate indication of its comic sensibility. This is not no much a spoof as a poor imitation.
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