Lori Shepherd has grown up with two important things: her mother’s bedtime stories of a fabulous woman named Aunt Dimity and a stuffed rabbit named Reginald. But now Lori is recently divorced, her mother has passed away and she is stuck in a dead end job. As much as she wishes Aunt Dimity was real, she knows Aunt Dimity was just a fairy tale character from her mother’s imagination. Or so she believes until she is suddenly summoned to the law firm of Willis and Willis. There she learns that Aunt Dimity was very real indeed and has just died and left Lori a grand inheritance. Unfortunately there’s a catch. Lori must go to England to Aunt Dimity’s cottage and find a secret hidden in the piles of correspondence written between Aunt Dimity and Lori’s mother over four decades of friendship. Along the way Lori realizes that Aunt Dimity’s spirit is alive, well and very ready to help Lori on her new quest. Ultimately, Lori’s entire life will change as she discovers all the secrets Aunt Dimity has left for her, as well as finding true love.
Bubby: There are a few series that I just took to heart from the moment I opened the first book. The Aunt Dimity series is one of these. This first book in the series, Aunt Dimity’s Death was named one of the best mysteries of the 20th century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This is for good reason. It starts out as a standard cozy mystery; down on her luck girl gets mysterious letter alluding to some sort of inheritance and off she goes to England to figure it all out. The twist comes in the form of Aunt Dimity herself. She is dead but her spirit lives on as she magically writes to Lori through the pages of a blue leather journal.
Sissy: The promise of intrigue piques one’s interest as we discover clues having to do with WWII, long-lost loves, and the London Zoo. Mata Hari monkeys? Hyenas on a heist?
Bubby: Pretty sure Mata Hari was WWI, Sissy. It seems that our dear Aunt Dimity has left some task undone and Lori must fix the situation so that Dimity’s spirit will be at rest. I really enjoyed the love interest in this book – he is not your typical tall dark and perfect romantic lead – in fact he has several faults.
Sissy: Like being pudgy, bespectacled, and unfashionable? Those are the ones who have money, my dear Bubby. And I sometimes like our dear Bill better than main character Lori.
Bubby: He does seem like a very sweet man, doesn’t he. I think that his father, Mr. Willis Sr., is my favorite character – he starts off as a bit of a curmudgeon but ends up being the father Lori never had.
Sissy: Yes, and it is fun how throughout the series different ladies in the local village try to entice him romantically. Now, Bubby, would you like to know my pros and cons about this series?
Bubby: I rather think you’ll tell me whether I want you to or not, so go ahead!
Sissy: I Shall start with the cons, so you can rebut. Lori is a bit of a flibbertigibbet. She also ends up with a fairly cushy life, but still complains (“Oh, I’m so flustered with this mystery, I can’t decide what to ask cook to prepare for dinner and I might have to put off my cuticle polishing appointment”). And lastly, how many murders can one village have? I live in a village-like small town, and the last murder we had was 27 years ago.
Bubby: Actually, there are NO murders in this first book. And she doesn’t have a cook. Just saying. She does seem a bit entitled in some of the other books (and yes, she does get a nanny eventually), but let’s just focus on this one book, instead of dissing the series as a whole, shall we?
Sissy: Bubby, you try to spoil all my fun! Here are my PROs for this book (and series, neener, neener). This first book is a solidly good mystery with a unique premise. Some of the books have better plots and storylines for me than others, but they are, as a whole, enjoyable. The setting in a picturesque English village is a plus, and the villagers are idiosyncratic in the usual English villager sort of way. I would live amongst them and eat currant buns.
Bubby: Ooh, yes, currant buns. And scones or perhaps crumpets! With clotted cream! Oh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment in my fantasies of English tea time. I do love the characterizations of the villagers – the quiet horsey couple next door, the elderly twins who finish each other’s sentences and the busybody who runs both the town and her husband!
Sissy: As I said, the villagers are very English villagery. And if you don’t know what that means, dear reader, you clearly need to watch more BBC. I give this book and subsequent series 3 stars.
Bubby: It’s a great book and a great series. I adore them all. I give the book 4 bubbles.
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