(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for English Trifle, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from the previous book. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)
After solving the murder of a young mother in her quiet Colorado neighborhood, 56-year-old Sadie Hoffmiller's ready for a little R&R. A trip abroad is just the ticket. The fact that Sadie gets to travel with her daughter, Breanna, and stay at a luxurious English manor owned by the family of a future earl is icing on the cake. Especially since the earl-to-be happens to be Breanna's boyfriend, Liam Martin.
When their indulgent week of sightseeing comes to an end, the women are ready to go home, but reluctant to leave Liam, who's staying in Devonshire to care for his dying father. Liam's despair, coupled with a strange tension amongst the staff of the manor, unnerves Sadie. Her instincts tell her something's not quite right at Southgate. The corpse she discovers behind a drapery confirms it. Shocked to come face-to-face with another murder victim, Sadie immediately calls the local police. But when the Police Authority inspector shows up, the body's gone. Although everyone thinks she's crackers, Sadie knows what she saw. A man was killed and she intends to find out why. And by whom. Since she's not being allowed to leave the city, she might as well solve a murder.
As Sadie pokes her nose into the intricate lives of the people at Southgate, she stumbles upon a complex web of secrecy and lies. Everyone seems to be hiding something - even Liam. The question is what? The more she discovers, the more troubling the situation becomes. If Sadie doesn't solve the mystery soon, she's afraid she might be the next victim.
English Trifle, the second book in a series of culinary mysteries by Josi S. Kilpack, didn't do a whole lot for me. The plot seemed stale and contrived, the characters cliche, and the finale predictable. With about 100 pages more than it needed to have, the story dragged, getting especially dull in the middle. I did appreciate the fact that Kilpack fleshed her heroine out a lot more in this installment than she did in Lemon Tart - I'm not sure if I like Sadie, the overbearing do-gooder, but she's definitely getting more interesting. Not interesting enough, though, to carry this novel. In the end, I found English Trifle bland and disappointing. Rather like English food - or so I hear.
(Readalikes: Lemon Tart and other novels in the Sadie Hoffmiller series by Josi S. Kilpack; also Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, Blueberry Muffin Murder, Lemon Meringue Pie Murder, and other novels in the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for a small amount of violence
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of English Trifle from the generous folks at Deseret Book. Thank you!