I am not a fan of cozy mysteries. I am reminded, though, after reading Ashley Weaver’s Murder at the Brightwell, that cozies appeal to a large portion of the mystery-reading public. This first effort, set in the 1930’s, ticks all the necessary boxes: A murder (and then a second murder), a group of likely suspects stuck in a “locked room” (in this case, the ocean-side Brightwell Hotel), an amateur sleuth, and a somewhat plodding detective.

Amory Ames, a young woman unhappily married for five years to her playboy husband Milo, contemplates a platonic vacation at the invitation of her former fiancé, Gil Trent. Amory threw Gil over in a heartbeat upon meeting Milo, yet Gil still pines for her. And what is Gil’s not-so-hidden agenda in asking Amory to the Brightwell Hotel for a week? He hopes Amory’s rocky marriage will serve to convince his sister, Emmeline, to call off her engagement to the hated Rupert. Amory agrees to go, thinking she’ll have a quiet week at the ocean to consider divorce from Milo—oh, and maybe hook up with Gil again.

At the Brightwell, Rupert is murdered, and Gil, the obvious suspect, is taken into custody. Amory is aghast, thinking it’s her unfortunate remarks to the investigator that brings the charge against Gil. Emboldened by her guilt, Amory decides to find the real murderer and thus exonerate Gil. Just as the investigator quarantines the hotel guests, Milo arrives. To Amory’s surprise and disgust, he decides to share her hotel room and join in her investigation of the other guests. This results in Milo becoming a suspect himself when another man at the hotel is murdered.

Amory entertains many theories and interviews just about everyone stuck at the hotel. I won’t spoil the “who” of the who-dunnit aspect of the story, except to say that the final reveal is logical and well-placed.

Ashley Weaver has written an archetypal cozy with believable characters for the time and place. My only gripe is this: Amory is highly ambivalent about Milo and whether he loves her. He seems a cad and she is unhappy. Yet Amory willingly runs back to Milo because there’s a spark between them when they lock eyes. Hmm. Maybe I need to read more cozies to understand.

On a scale of 1-10, I rate this book a 6.5195r9ZsY+L._SL300_

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