A Fatal Footnote by Margaret Loudon is the second segment in the author’s cosy mystery series, Open Book Mysteries. It revolves around the writer-in-residence at the local bookstore in Upper Chumley-on-Stoke, England, named Penelope Parish. She gets invited to the royal wedding of the year for the Duke and Duchess, the latter of which has become a wonderful friend for Pen. But when the Duke’s former girlfriend is found murdered in the gardens, the visiting writer rolls up her sleeves to find the culprit before the crime can be pinned on her friend’s dearly beloved new hubby.
The first novel, Murder in the Margins, was an amazing treat. I loved the main character, Penelope, as I related a lot to her writing ruts and issues with creativity. Then there were the sassy old ladies who kept me thoroughly entertained with their gossip and commentary on the happenings in town. Topping off the pleasantries included the British countryside, the Duke and Duchess and their royal-esque scandals, and Mrs Danvers, Penelope’s cute kitty. All of these traits maintain their presence in the sequel with a couple new arrivals for an extra kick of fun.
The murder occurs during the reception of the Duke and Duchess’s wedding, with the victim being the Duke’s former girlfriend. Naturally, the potential for a whirlwind of calumny begins to swirl around the couple rather quickly. I liked that the person killed wasn’t someone I had already been introduced to in the previous novel. While it kept me from getting super invested in their death, it also left plenty of emotional vacancy for other personal things to rise up in Penelope’s life that really helped to give her character and her life in England more depth, more reason to be prolonged.
Penelope is one nosy lady, though! The way she just picks up her things and heads out to investigate the crime without any prompting from the local authorities was as entertaining as it was shocking at times. Because of her friendship with the Duchess, Pen becomes personally embroiled in the crime, culprit, and causes. I kept waiting for the detective to give her a piece of his mind and telling her to back off, but that never really happened. As she works on piecing everything together, it becomes easy to ascertain to which individual(s) is involved. As expected of royal relationships, it can become a bit twisty here and there, however, it’s all so salacious that I found myself intrigued and eating it up with wicked curiosity.
Something else we get in this book is a visit from one of Pen’s relatives. This individual is undergoing a very hard time in their life and seeks out Pen’s help in getting re-situated in a new environment with a fresh start. I liked the relationship between our main character and her relative because it shows who Pen is when she’s not a cat loving, writer-in-residence. Witnessing the life she leaves behind helps her feel much more sincere and humanised.
My biggest complaint about A Fatal Footnote is the same complaint I had last time. Mrs Danvers does not get enough screen-time!!!! Mrs Danvers is Penelope’s black and white, poufy kitty Queen. She’s as sassy as the old ladies that Pen has tea and bookish chit-chats with, but she’s also loving and adorable. She was nothing more than an adornment for Pen’s home in this novel and it made me very sad and frustrated. Mrs Danvers had a much stronger presence in Murder in the Margins. My hope and wholehearted wish is that the kitty babe will get more of a presence in the next book. As silly as it sounds, I came here for kitty cosiness and if there continues to be a lack of kitty loving, I may just drop the series (I know… petty… But I take my feline presences very seriously, thank you very much!).
All in all, A Fatal Footnote was a delectable cosy mystery set in the British countryside with some endearing yet entertaining characters, a spicy murder mystery, and lots of tea and snacks to make anyone’s mouth water. I definitely RECOMMEND this if you enjoyed Murder in the Margins or are on the lookout for a new (literally) cosy serial to pick up.
Publication Date: July 2021
Publisher: Berkley (ISBN-13: 978-0593099285)
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Series: Open Book Mystery (Book 2)
Page Count: 320
Content Warnings: Death via murder. Attempted murder. Blood (mild). Mention of self-harm, institutionalisation, and child abuse. Dysfunctional parent-child relationship. Mild sexual innuendo. Discussions of infidelity. Heavy details of preparation and consumption of food. Consumption of alcohol. Brief smoking. Cautionary advisory for cleithrophobia.
GoodReads: A Fatal Footnote by Margaret Loudon