My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MM
In this queer cozy series debut perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams, Luke Tremblay is about to discover that Crescent Cove has more than its fair share of secrets…and some might be deadlier than others.
Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can…but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.
When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.
There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.
I received a free ecopy from the publisher through Netgalley and an audio copy from Tantor Audio. I decided to listen to the audio version.
The Body in the Back Garden caught my eye when I first saw it on Netgalley. It’s been interesting to see some queer cozies pop up recently and I wanted to give this one a try. The Body in the Back Garden was a solid start to this new cozy mystery series, but didn’t fully hook me. It still very much reads like a typical first book in a cozie series and something was missing to fully pull me in.
This book follows Luke who returns to Crescent Cove to settle the affairs of his aunt who recently died, he wasn’t been back here since his his high school years and he’s planning to put the cottage and shop up for sale and get back to Toronto. Ofcourse things don’t go according to plan when he gets involved in a murder mystery.
The set up was pretty typical and while it worked here, it also felt like it lacked that little bit of freshness or extra to pull me in. I thought the setting in Canada and the fact Luke was gay were interesting bits as I haven’t read about either often in cozies, but besides that it just felt very typical. I am not a fan of the whole one foot out of the door vibe that Luke had as he wants to go back to Toronto, while it’s obvious he’s going to stay here. Therefore he didn’t feel fully immersed in the town and at home there or connected to the people who live there.
I thought the mystery was a solid one, there was enough to keep my itnerest and I liked seeing how Luke helped with the instigation and even tagged along with the sergeant a few times. There were a few interesting twists and turns as well as a few red herrings. I wasn’t quite sure who had done it, but I was thinking in the right direction and wasn’t surprised when the murderer came to light. I liked how everything falls on it’s place toward the end and makes sense.
Luke was an okay enough main character. I liked how he got involved in the mystery and stood his ground that he would stay involved and keep investigating instead of wavering. I didn’t really feel his connection with the town people as much, except for Jack. Although his connection with the town and how he missed his aunt was clear. I hope he feels a bit more at home in the second book. There is a bit of a second romance set up with Jack the sergeant as they used to be friends as kids. And now grow closer again once they clear the air, which luckily didn’t take as long as had feared.
The narrator worked well for this book, although I thought he did the male voices better than the female voices. There was enough variation, even though I didn’t like the voices for some of the side characters, it was always easy to distinguish who was talking.
To summarize: This is a solid start to a new cozy mystery series. It didn’t fully hook me in and had quite the typical first book cozy feel, but with a few unique touches like the gay main character and Canada setting. I didn’t like how Luke was planning to go back to Toronto while it was obvious to me he would decide to stay here, this led to him feeling not quite at home in the town and connected to the people yet. I thought the mystery was well written and had enough twists, secrets and reveals to keep things interesting. I wasn’t surprised at who the murderer was and everything fell nicely on it’s place at the end. Luke was a decent main character, I liked how he stood his ground and was determined to keep investigating. There’s a bit of romance with the sergeant as well and I liked how they knew each other as kids.