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Murder at the Mill    by M. B. Shaw order for
Murder at the Mill
by M. B. Shaw
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Talented portrait painter, forty-ish Iris Grey needs space in her disintegrating marriage. She rents a Hampshire cottage from celebrated crime writer, Dominic Wetherby, and his lovely wife Ariadne, the perfect homemaker. Mill cottage is in the grounds of their stately mansion, Mill House, in Hazelford.

The novel opens with the discovery of a body in the river below Mill House, on Christmas Day, by a traumatized young Lorcan Wetherby. Readers have to wait to find out who died as well as whodunit. Iris has enjoyed her time at the cottage, though she's disturbed by an altercation between her landlady and Ariadne's unpleasant son Billy, recently released from jail. She's curious about what's behind it.

Then Ariadne insists on Iris's painting Dom's portrait. She reluctantly agrees, and becomes even closer to the family as he sits for her. Readers get to know them along with her, including the elder son Marcus (who seems at his mother's beck and call, to his wife Jenna's dismay). Iris is invited to the Wetherby's big annual Christmas Eve party, and observes heightened emotions and drama there. She also flirts with Dom's attractive old friend Graham. Then comes the murder.

Iris feels compelled to solve the crime, setting her at odds with the local policeman. She also feels unsafe as her cottage has been entered by an unknown intruder more than once. There are plenty of red herrings and the resolution is both surprising and unsettling. As the story ends, we find Iris on her way to Edinburgh, presumably for her next adventure.

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