Review: Murder on Devil’s Pond by Ayla Rose

Posted July 10, 2024 by Lola in Mystery, Review / 1 Comment

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Murder on Devil's PondMurder on Devil’s Pond (Hummingbird Hollow B&B Mystery #1)
by Ayla Rose

My Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: m/f

Blurb:
A quaint Vermont inn offers idyllic peace–until a body is found on the property–in this charming series debut, perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams.

When thirty-three-year-old Hannah Solace returns to her hometown to renovate and reopen the inn she co-owns with her sister Reggie, her mission is to give the old Victorian hotel an entirely new life. She’s even planting pollinator gardens around the inn–native flowers and fruit trees to lure honeybees and houseguests alike.

Hannah’s fresh start is stymied by Reggie’s continual interference, unreliable contractors, a check-the-couch-for-coins budget, and townspeople Hannah left behind fifteen years ago. Her main source of camaraderie is Ezra Grayson, an eighty-year-old recluse who lives nearby. After an unsettling conversation with a disgruntled Ezra, Hannah is horrified to discover him dead on her property later that day.

Ezra had always had plenty of people to complain about, especially locals trying to force him out of his property for its prime real estate. As buzz around town grows after his death, Hannah finds herself on the short list of suspects. Hannah starts digging and quickly discovers that secrets lurk beneath the charming surface of the town she once again calls home.

My Review

I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

I like cozy mysteries, so I always keep an eye out for those in Netgalley and the fact the owner runs an inn caught my attention for this one. While I had expected the inn to be one of the things I would enjoy most about this book, I actually ended up enjoying the mystery the most. The rest of the elements fell flat for me, but the mystery was a solid one and was what kept me reading.

Let’s talk about the mystery first. I thought this book had a really well written mystery. The focus strongly is on the mystery and way less on the daily life events, and most of those still tie back to the mystery in some way. When Hannah’s 80 year old friend Ezra is murdered she gets involved trying to solve his murder. There are three of Ezra’s cousins staying at her inn who are all suspects, but the more she digs into the murder and Ezra’s life the more she uncovers. The mystery kept me reading and I was curious to find out who had killed Ezra and why.

Hannah keeps uncovering new pieces of information about Ezra’s life, his past and those around him. Multiple strange events have happened and I like how Hannah digs deep into everything and slowly uncovers more piece by piece. I thought the mystery ended up being quite sad in a way, not only how Hannah lost a friend, but also some of Ezra’s past that comes to light. It did make for an engaging mystery and I was coming up with the weirdest theories about who the murderer was and why they killed Ezra. I thought the actual reveal was a bit of a disappointment as I had expected something different.

Besides the mystery this book fell a bit flat to me. While I liked Hannah’s dedication and determination in finding who killed Ezra, I felt like I didn’t really get to know her as well as I wanted. There’s the work she did with the inn and her passion for gardening, but besides that there isn’t much.

The side characters weren’t really likeable or interesting, they were mostly there to fulfill a role in the story and a lot of them felt very manipulative and only out for their own gain. It sure gave a lot of them motive for murder, but it didn’t make for a very enjoyable read. I liked how Reggie, Hannah’s sister, becomes a bit warmer to her toward the end of the book, but for most of the book I didn’t really like her either or her relationship with Hannah. There is a hint of romance and even almost a love triangle, but neither gets a lot of attention so it’s hard to even call it that. There’s a not quite date, one kiss and then at the end Hannah seems to pick one of the guys and agrees on a date with him. So maybe there will be more romance in the next book.

I also thought this book kinda missed the cozy vibe, with so many unlikable or even manipulative side characters and not a lot of focus on the small town vibe, it just didn’t have that cozy vibe I look for in a cozy mystery. This didn’t feel like a cozy town, but one with lots of secrets and people out for their own interest. I also had hoped for more about the inn Hannah runs, but there really is only the basics and the inn felt more like a plot device for Hannah to talk to the cousins as they were staying at her inn.

To summarize: Murder on Devil’s Pond had a well written mystery, but that was the only thing that kept me reading. The book didn’t have that cozy vibe I expected and there wasn’t as much about Hannah’s job at the inn. Most of the side characters weren’t really likable or interesting and a bunch of them come across as manipulative and out for their own gain. I liked Hannah’s dedication and determination in solving the mystery, but felt I didn’t really get to know much about her besides that and her passion for sustainable gardening. The mystery was a good one though, it kept me reading and I was curious to find out what had happened. There is a lot of secrets and facts about Ezra’s past that Hannah uncovers during her investigation. I was coming up with the wildest theories about who the murderer was and the actual reveal was a bit disappointing as it wasn’t what I had expected at all. This book has an engaging mystery, but fell flat where it came to the characters, theme and cozy vibe.

3 Stars

Links:
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You can also read my review on Goodreads and Bookbub.

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