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Dead White: A Della Arthur 1940s Murder Mystery by Gwen Parrott: A Book Review

Dead White: A Della Arthur 1940s Murder Mystery
Author: Gwen Parrott
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Corazon Crime
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 214
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In a 1940s Welsh village a school teacher stumbles across two dead bodies, and the secrets and lies of a close-knit community.

     During the harsh winter of 1947, Della Arthur arrives at a remote Pembrokeshire village in the middle of a snowstorm to take up her new job as headteacher of the local primary school. Losing her way from the train station, she comes across a farmhouse and takes shelter there. After finding two dead bodies inside, Della struggles to discover the truth behind their deaths. She soon realises that in this close-knit community, secrets and lies lurk beneath the surface of respectability.

     Della must choose who to trust among the inhabitants of this remote village – should she reveal what she knows to the sardonic minister of the local chapel, Huw Richards, or the Italian prisoner of war, Enzo Mazzati? Della finds herself under siege on all sides, and encumbered by an unwelcome lodger, a missing colleague and a disturbed pupil. It is only when her own life is threatened that she realises how dangerous her discoveries in the farmhouse really were.

     My Review: Della Arthur has been recently hired to be a school teacher in a small Welsh village. Upon her arrival, there is a snow storm that forces her to lose her way. She finds a farmhouse and decides to take shelter there until the storm is over. After settling in, Della finds that there are two dead bodies in the house. However, the deaths are more than what they at first appear to be. What may look like a natural death ends up actually being a murder. Della decides to uncover the truth about their deaths, but she finds that there are obstacles standing in her way because some people in the community are willing to go to such lengths to hide the truth behind their deaths.

     I did not like the main protagonist. I found Della to be a very weak character. She makes many unwise decisions that put herself and others in harm’s way. I really did not like that she barged into someone’s home and made herself tea and fixed herself a meal, taking their items without permission. I thought that Della should have been punished for her actions, but she never was. She goes to many lengths to cover up her trespasses. It frustrated me that the people in the town don’t seem to care about her actions. Instead, they tell her to never mention it. Besides her appalling behavior, I found her to be very judgmental and selfish. She is also very dependent. She feels she needs a man who she can lean on and who can cover up her bad actions. As a mystery novel, Della doesn’t really do any investigating. She is very passive. The reason she investigates a little is because she wants to cover up her crimes. I found the ending to be very disappointing because she doesn’t solve the mystery, but rather the solution to the mystery was handed to her.

     Overall, I thought this to be a very poorly written mystery and a weak detective. There were a few plot holes. The supporting characters were not fully developed enough and were one-dimensional. There was also an abrupt ending to get readers interested in a sequel. While I like a good cliffhanger ending, this didn’t really appeal to me because it wasn’t written well enough to get me interested in a sequel. However, it was a short and very fast-paced read. I also thought the Welsh setting was very atmospheric for a murder mystery. I recommend this novel to those who like gothic and suspenseful stories. However, because of the unlikable characters and many flaws in this novel, it transformed into a less compelling mystery novel.


Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

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