This weekend I read the latest book in Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series: Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea. I don't read all that many "cozy" mystery books. I generally find them a bit light for my tastes. I prefer police procedurals and private investigator novels. However, I make an exception for the Aunt Dimity books. First of all, reading them is a bit of a bonding thing between me and my Mom. And second of all, I just love them.
The Aunt Dimity books are about Lori Shepard, an American woman living in an English village in a house that she inherited upon the death of her mother's close friend, Aunt Dimity. Turns out, however, that death isn't quite enough to quench Aunt Dimity's spirit. Her ghost remains with Lori, communicating via a blue-leather-bound notebook, and offering wisdom and guidance to Lori during her adventures.
In this book, Lori and her family are being stalked by a killer, due to some mis-step on the part of Lori's husband, Bill Willis. Bill sends Lori and their five-year-old twin boys away for their own safety, to the Scottish island fortress of their friend, Sir Percy Pelham. Sir Percy is an engaging and good-hearted man who has the additional desirable quality of being incredibly rich. His island castle, Dundrillin, features parapets and gloomy chambers, as well as modern conveniences like deluxe suites, a swimming pool, and a movie theater.
While on the island, Lori naturally runs into a mystery. This one involves the local villagers, a mysterious miniature island that might be haunted, an old monastery that might also be haunted, and a young man visiting the island under a false name. There are also caves and secret treasures. How could anyone resist? It's basically a cool children's book premise, slightly updated to be for grown-ups.
If you haven't read this series, and you like cozies, I highly recommend it. The characters are likable and funny. Lori's character is particularly well-rounded and realistic. She has flaws. She does stupid things sometimes. But she always triumphs. The ghostly Aunt Dimity aspect of the books adds an intriguing quirk, without overpowering any of the stories.
In summary, if you are looking for a quick, fun read that will restore a bit of your faith in humanity, and give you an adventure with castles and ghosts at the same time, check out Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea.