In Dead on Dartmoor by Stephanie Austin the main character, Juno, is a dealer in collectables and antiques, a dog walker and a general assistant for hire. I think that this will probably generate the opportunity for the author to place her in lots of interesting situations where crimes might happen in this cosy crime series. I haven’t read any of the others and this is the second one in the series but I would certainly be prepared to read another should it come my way.
In this story Juno has inherited a business where other antique dealers have stalls in her building. One of those is Gavin who specialises in comics but who is actually lazy and a bit of a pain. Juno has received an invitation to bring some of her sellers to a big country house sale after she met the owner when her van caught fire. At the event Gavin disappears and is found dead. When Juno asks around she finds that he is not the only person who has died at the estate and that Gavin might have been investigating the previous death when he also died.
Juno is a sympathetic character who has lots of eccentric friends and receives a lot of support from them in her business activities and also in her investigation. The mystery isn’t much of a mystery because it’s obvious who the bad guys are but working out what has happened, and why, and the individual stories of some characters is entertaining. There is, however, a storyline about a confused woman who is used by Juno to protect someone else which is slightly uncomfortable – Juno has a habit in this book of solving people’s problems for them in the way that she thinks is best which is fine in fiction but not so easy in real life.
The book is set in Devon but I didn’t feel that the landscape was an important part of the story and that it could have been set in any rural area in the UK – if you know this part of Devon well you may recognise some of the locations. Crime series set in rural areas seem to quite popular at the moment – I have written about a couple set in the Lake District here and here.