Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery #1)
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Brynn is a newcomer to Shenandoah Springs. She settled in the area with her three cows to become a local cheese producer. Just down the road from Brynn is another newcomer to town, Nancy. Nancy had purchased the old Glebe Church and planned to renovate it and turn it into a shop where local farmers could sell their goods everyday. Nancy shared with Brynn the fact that the locals hadn’t been very supportive. Brynn sympathized because one of her cows had lost her calf and had been bellowing ever since, and the locals had been vocal about their displeasure. The two bonded over their shared goals and hurtles.
One night, a terrible fire broke out at the church, and Nancy is severely injured. Brynn rushed to the hospital to be with her new friend, but Nancy died shortly after she got there. Something about the fire bothered Brynn from the start. So although she didn’t know Nancy well, she felt she owed it to Nancy to find out the truth. As Brynn investigated the situation, she became even more convinced of foul play. Then, mysterious things start happening on her own farm. Brynn gets scared and thinks about leaving town. However, she ends up digging her heels in and becomes even more determined to solve the mystery.
Christmas Cow Bells is the first book in a new series called the Buttermilk Creek Mysteries. It is a great start to the series. It has just enough background information on characters to allow you to become invested in them, and still plenty of mystery to keep you guessing all the way until the end. This is often a tricky balance with a first in a series novel. The author introduces us to a great set of varied characters including those of the four legged variety. Our central character, Brynn, is a determined and kind hearted soul. The secondary characters are plentiful, but not overwhelming, giving us a very diverse group of suspects. Brynn’s four legged friends have well developed personalities as well, and they are a great addition to the cast of characters. Brynn builds some great relationships in this first story, and it will be interesting to see how these develop in future installment.
The mystery was great with plenty of cheese crumbs left behind from beginning to end to help the reader find their way to the mystery’s solution. This wasn’t an easy mystery to solve, however, as there were plenty of wrong paths to get lost on if you weren’t careful. The only part of the plot I didn’t care for was that there were a couple of clues that Brynn did not share with the authorities immediately. It wasn’t because she was trying to hide them, but more like she didn’t feel a rush to turn them over. The clock seems to be frantically ticking so this seems a little out of place, and at least one important clue goes missing.
This story takes place at Christmastime, and although there is a mystery afoot, there is still Christmas spirit to be had.
Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for an ARC of this book. #NetGalley #ChristmasCowBells