This review was written for Rosie’s book review team and it was purchased by this reviewer.
A Clerical Error is a cozy, the third in the Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. I read the second in the series, The Curse of Arundel Hall, so I am familiar with the setting, and I was looking forward to this next adventure. What appeals to me about these books is the historical setting, the paranormal aspects of the stories, and the fact they are cozies.
The Yellow Cottage series is set in the 1930s, and the author is developing her characters and the back story with each further adventure. Following the death of her husband, Ella Bridges moves to Linhay Island, spurred by a strong suggestion from her husband’s boss, the British Home Secretary, that she move away and forget her husband. She takes up residence in a refurbished cottage that was once a part of the Arundel Hall estate – a cottage inhabited by ghosts. In this volume, only Phantom, a cat ghost and companion to Ella, remains. Ella develops a reputation as something of a local sleuth, following her solution of a murder in the previous book.
In A Clerical Error, Ella takes a bike ride around the island and meets two ladies involved in raising funds for their church. Despite their somewhat off-putting interaction, they persuade Ella to run a stall to make money for the church at the May Day Fete. The action begins with the sudden death of the vicar, Father Michael, at the Fete. The vicar had only recently returned from a sabbatical and while liked, was not well known by his [parishioners. Characters previously introduced reappear, cleverly woven into the story: Sergeant Baxter, a policeman Ella had worked with before; her ever supportive Aunt Margaret; her housekeeper Mrs. Shaw, and her Uncle Albert, the Police Commissioner at Scotland Yard.
Confounding the threads of the investigation and shocking Ella is the discovery that her husband is still alive and the fact Mrs. Shaw is not who she claims to be.
The descriptive narrative is very well done, if at times not completely necessary. I particularly liked the walled garden – I could almost smell the flowers and hear the bees. I also enjoyed learning more about the island and Ella’s cottage, both of which are characters themselves. The author does a good job of creating well-rounded and sympathetic people to populate her books, and she keeps the reader in the 1930s. Best of all she provided enough plot turns to engross the reader in finding out who done it. While Phantom appears from time to time in the story, I would have liked to see more of Ella’s paranormal skills, and the story of her husband’s reappearance and the sequalae was somewhat of a stretch.
All in all, though, a satisfying read and one which keeps me interested in reading the next book in the series. This is a book to cuddle up with on a rainy day, and the ending does leave you hanging!
About the author
J. New has been a voracious reader and writer all her life. She took her first foray into publishing in 2013 with An Accidental Murder, the first in her Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Originally from a small picturesque town in Yorkshire, she relocated in 2007 and currently resides with her partner and an ever-expanding family of rescue animals. She particularly loves murder mysteries set in past times, where steam trains, house staff and afternoon tea abound, and surmises she was born in the wrong era. She also has an impossible bucket list: to travel on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, shop in Diagon Alley with Sirius Black, laze around The Shire with Bilbo and Gandalf, explore Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and have Tea at the Ritz with Miss Marple.
A Clerical Error can be found on Amazon:
J New can be found at
and on her blog https://www.jnewwrites.com/Blog.php