Bells, Tails and Murder (A Dickens and Christie Mystery, #1) by Kathy Manos Penn #RBRT #BookReview @KathyManosPenn


Cover: Bells, Tails & Murder (A Dickens & Christie Mystery, #1) by Kathy Manos Penn

The author sent me an ARC (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review (a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5  stars)

(by Goodreads)

A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!
Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.
When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie.

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.
When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!
Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?
Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?
You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.”

Genre(s): > Cozy Culinary Mystery
> Mystery Series
> Cozy Crafts & Hobbies Mystery
Series: A Dickens & Christie Mystery, #1
Length: 230 pages
Release date: 2020-02-17


I called Dickens to my side and coaxed him to sit before I moved closer. I’d watched enough BBC murder mysteries to know I shouldn’t disturb the scene, but I had to check for a pulse. I pressed my fingers to her wrist. Her skin was cold, and I couldn’t find a pulse.

Take a breath, calm down, what do you do now? I thought. My first inclination was to call Libby in the hope that Gemma was still at home. I stood staring at the body as I dialed the inn. “Libby, Libby, Libby,” I gasped. “Please tell me Gemma’s there.”

“Leta? What’s wrong? You sound frantic. And yes, she’s here. This is her day off. She was on her way out for a run.”

My Opinion

A little more than a year after her husband’s tragic bicycle accident, Leta needs a change of scenery. She and her husband have always liked the Cotswolds – so retiring there with her furry family would certainly find his approval.

With Bells, Tails & Murder”, Kathy Manos Penn has created a nicely woven plot, an intriguing story of Leta, Dickens, Christie, and their new-found friends who need to deal with a murder in their midst. “Bells, Tails & Murder” comprises authentic main characters with sufficient depth, nice turns, and room for ‘sleuthing along’. I had a great time reading – this is a very entertaining compelling read; I was drawn into the story right away, close to Leta and her canine and feline friends. I liked Leta’s stubbornness, the teamwork, the warm-hearted characters, and the knowledge that there are more books in this series. I consider “Bells, Tails & Murder” a highly enjoyable read of the ‘feel-good’ category

This is for you if you like cosy mysteries, real communication between humans and animals, and authentic characters.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV First person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (very decent)
Violence :mrgreen:  (a tad of violence)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (very decent)

About the author

A Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner for Book I in her Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series, Kathy Manos Penn went from crafting communications in corporate America to plotting page-turners in retirement.

Adhering to the adage to “write what you know,” she populates her mysteries with well-read, witty senior women, a sassy cat, and a loyal dog. The murders and talking pets, however, exist only in her imagination.

She lives in Atlanta with her husband and the two four-legged office assistants who inspire the personalities of Dickens & Christie. Why is Dickens a fiend for belly rubs? Because Kathy’s real-life dog is. The same goes for Christie’s finicky eating habits and penchant for lolling on top of the desk or in the file drawer. She gets it from the calico cat who rules the roost.

Connect with the Author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about Bells, Tails & Murder”?  Or – if you did not yet read Bells, Tails & Murder”  – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂