Death Comes to Dartmoor

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Not the best book I've read but not the worst either. The plot is good and that's what kept me reading and I liked the descriptive writing of Dartmoor. The characters could be better, more believable but that's my only criticism.
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*Many thanks to Vivian Conroy, Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
I was looking forward to reading this novel even though I did not read the first books in this series. Unfortunately, Death Comes to Dartmoor did not turn out to be interesting and I stuggled through it. The plot was not engaging and historical background could be presented with more detail.
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Thank you Net Galley. The second installment of the Merriweather and Royston series does not live up to the promise of the first series.  The protagonists fail to meld as an investigative team and the historical detail is poor. The book feels disjointed.
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I have not read the first book in this series, but I did enjoy this one. The writing was very atmospheric which helped me to imagine the setting, having never been there. The characters were well defined and I liked the light romance. This was a great read for an afternoon on the beach. 
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I was fascinated by the blurb, but to me honest I couldn't get into this book.
I grew up on historical novels and this employs too much modern language.  I suppose it is to make it more accessible to those who are put off by the old expressions and manor of speech for the time period, but this modern talk put me off the story.  

I don't know if it was the character development or the beginning, but it just didn't pull me into the story enough to make up for the language.

Thank you for opportunity to read this.
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Death Comes to Dartmoor is #2 in the Merriweather and Royston Mystery Series by Vivian Conroy.

The story tells of the murder of a girl, who is believed to have been killed by Oaks. Oaks is a bit of an eccentric, with his home full of taxidermy, so obviously suspicion falls on him,

So, as Merula and Raven are staying with Oaks, they decide to use their skills and find out who really is the murderer.

This is an in-depth story, with its many little side plots and lots of background into the main characters, which I really enjoyed as it builds the story into more than just the mystery at hand…..I also love the atmosphere, a glimpse into the past and a simpler time. An easy, enjoyable murder mystery in a classic style.

Thank you to the publishers, the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.
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Death Comes to Dartmoor was an okay read. I liked Merula and the subplot on who her real parents were, in addition to the fact that I had to guess to the very end who the murderer were. Aside from Merula, there were a couple of other likeable characters, but I really disliked Raven. What also frustrated me were the "Americanism" that sometimes showed up a bit, which didn't quite fit as the setting was in Dartmoor and some of the characters were a bit flat.

On a positive note, it was a well written plot and sometimes a bit atmospheric.
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The story is set in the modern period but the characters exist in the Medieval period. Mystery Thriller is somehow a refreshing genre in a medieval period and I like it.

Merula is quite a nice name and I'm so glad that there is no love story involved with her and Lord Raven.

There is a lot of suspected characters and revelations while the murderer is still unknown. I was shocked who was the killer. I wasn't able to guess it. Well done!

The hanging question at the end which was about Merula's real identity. I would definitely be looking forward to the next story in the series.

Thank you very much to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC!
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Death Comes to Dartmoor is an entertaining read, if a little bogged down in places, and with a few 'Americanisms' that I wouldn't expect to find in a book set in Victorian Britain.
While the mystery is interesting enough, it is when the reader begins to learn about Merula's past that the novel really shows some spark.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy.
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rather convoluted and written blandly

I would like to thank Vivian Conroy, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lord Raven Royston and Miss Merula Merriweather journey to Dartmoor in an effort to escape the scandal they’ve recently been involved in in London. Expecting to relax with some peace and quiet, they are dismayed to find their host, Oaks, raving like a madman and the villagers ready to burn the house down, regardless of who’s inside. A local girl has been found dead—murdered—and the villagers hold Oaks responsible. Though it’s none of their business, Raven and Merula find themselves investigating the mystery, because if they don’t find the true culprit, their friend will be convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and may spend the rest of his life in an asylum.

I had problems with this book. It took a while for me to care about the plot—or the characters, for that matter. I think I started this book three times before I resigned myself to hunkering down and pushing through to the end. I’m not entirely sure why the beginning didn’t grab me; the tension, intrigue, and action began just a few pages in. I’m inclined to think it was the rather bland writing style that in turn made the characters bland. By bland I mean there was a noticeable lack of adjectives and adverbs and the verbs alone weren’t colorful enough to add richness and emotion to the telling. I remember thinking early on that the writing, the descriptions, were plain. Just plain. That sentiment lasted through to the end, though events and heightening tension eventually brought some energy to the story.

That plain writing style infected characterization. Lamb the irritating lady’s maid—I really didn’t like her—and Bowsprit the valet had more personality than Merula and Raven; the pair of whom also lacked chemistry. Hell, Merula had more chemistry with Bowsprit—whose name made me think of the Pokemon Mesprit every time I read it—than Royce, probably because she actually had meaningful conversations with him. Wait—I mean Raven, not Royce; there was no Royce. I keep getting his name confused and calling him Royce, probably because Raven doesn’t suit him. Not only am I used to it being a female name—thank you, X-Men—it’s too sexy and enigmatic for a man who is neither.

There was nothing special about either Merula or Royce—damn it, Raven! I was rather disgusted in the beginning when Merula stayed to cook and do house stuff while Roy—Raven went off to sleuth. That happened again and again—him leaving her behind to go investigate. To my recollection, the only thing she did to help the investigation was speak with the blacksmith when he answered their summons—not a proactive effort on her part—and act as a sounding board for Raven. Oh, and she did talk to the stable boy, but she didn’t even have to leave the grounds to do that. I only started to care about Merula when out of the blue, around 37%, she revealed that her mother had spent time in Dartmoor before she died, and, I inferred, on a subconscious level Merula was hoping to find traces of her there. Suddenly she had something to do—investigate her parentage—and it was completely irrelevant to the main plot.

I’m honestly not sure I liked Raven; I’m probably closer to dislike than like. To me he came off as disrespectful and dismissive—generally arrogant, I suppose. He kind of did what he wanted and expected everyone else to go along with it and/or accommodate him. (I was so pleased when Merula blatantly ignored his wishes and went off to do what she wanted. That show of independence and backbone is probably the only thing that made me like her.) One could argue that it wasn’t unexpected he would be like that—being a lord and all. But there was some mention of him falling pretty much into ruin in the not-so-distant past, and I would think—hope—that experience would have humbled him. And that’s the heart of the matter—I just didn’t know enough about him—his history, his influences, his motivations, his values—to care. All I knew was that he was something of a natural historian and his mother had died under mysterious circumstances when he was boy. And the latter didn’t matter to the plot, so it was hardly explored.

Which leads me to another problem—I haven’t read the first book in this series, The Butterfly Conspiracy, and I really got the feeling Conroy expected me to have done so. Which, to be fair, is her prerogative—this is a series after all, following the same characters. Naturally the events of the previous book and the consequences thereof would factor in here. But the events of book one were alluded to so frequently—and often so vaguely—that I really began to feel like I was missing major information, and that distanced me from the story. I felt rather excluded, like I was new to a group of friends and didn’t understand their inside jokes. It was unfortunate.

As for the mystery, it…kind of made sense in the end. I have enough of a vague understanding to know that most of it was superfluous; instead of clever storytelling, Conroy buried us in a sprawl of suspects with vague motivations and figured simply confusing us was the same as intriguing us. And it was largely futile; I knew who the culprit was pretty early. What I didn’t understand was why, and imagine my disappointment when the true villain—the true motivation for all the suspects, the thinnest of threads making them at all relevant to each other—was the mere concept of progress. It came down to whether they were for it or against it, and each had their reasons for wanting or not wanting it and limits as to what they would do to see it achieved—or not. The murder mystery itself was good—but adding in all that crap about the railroads and investors and land and whatever—was convoluted and took away any satisfaction to be felt in the capture of the murderer.

One of the most frustrating things was that no one ever asked for names. It became such a thing that I immediately highlighted the one time Raven actually said to the stable boy, “So, my boy…what’s your name, anyway?” It was most notable when Merula met with that man who knew her mother; they met three times, and she never once tried to get his name. Wouldn’t that be one of the first natural things to say— “Who are you?” I mean, jesus. It was ignored so deliberately that it’s obvious Conroy is trying to prolong the intrigue. I did not appreciate it. It just made Merula look stupid. It was also notable when Merula and Royce interrogated first Webber, then Fern. Both denied Merula and Royce’s accusations and tried to discredit their statements again and again—but neither Merula nor Roy—goddamn it, RAVEN—asked, “All right, if it wasn’t you, then who? Who do you believe to be the father? Who do you believe to be the killer? We’re open to suggestions.”

Last thing—Merula should have shown Raven her sketches in the end. It was a huge missed opportunity to develop their relationship—which isn’t surprising; their relationship was nowhere near top priority. From the very first page, it was clear time and time again that Raven wanted to see her sketches—wanted to see that private part of her, to feel as if he were someone special to her for having been shown them—and she was too wary of their attraction to one another, and what could develop from it, to allow him. If the development of their relationship had been more important, it would have been a wonderful demonstration of her acceptance of him, of her letting him in, if the book had ended with her showing him her sketches.

Overall, many aspects of this story were interesting and full of storytelling potential—but few if any of them were well executed. Having recently read Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby mystery series, as well as Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series, I can’t help but compare them with this book, as it could very well be pitched as the marriage of the two—which is why I wanted to read it. But I’ve found this book does not measure up to either of those series.
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Wasn't quite sure how I was going to feel about this book as it started off slow and I just wasn't getting into it. but still I gave it a chance.. after the mystery was set into place I was really enjoying the story. I like how the main characters were very determined to help out their friend and prove his innocence. I like the face this it felt like a stand alone with minimum mention to the first book in the series, so I didn't feel like I was missing much, since I had not read it. what I didn't like that that the author added to the  story by adding a secondary story of Merula and finding out who she really is.. I felt that it took away from the main story and was just confusing.  Overall all I enjoyed the story and would read more from the Author.

lastly I would like to thank Netgalley and the Publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read this ARC.
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Set on Dartmoor in England, one of my favourite places and a great setting for any mystery. I enjoyed the main characters, Merula and Raven, and the touch of romance between the two of them was well done. Bowsprit was a great character too.

The mystery was quite involved but it came to a satisfactory and rather surprising conclusion. I enjoyed Death Comes to Dartmoor and will look out for other books by Vivian Conroy
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Hi and welcome to my review of Death Comes to Dartmoor by Vivian Conroy!

Many thanks to Vivian for inviting me to request this on NetGalley and to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the eARC!

Merula Merriweather and Raven Royston (don’t you just love a good alliteration!) have just solved a murder mystery and are on their way to Dartmoor. However, it seems that peace and quiet in the country is not exactly in the books for them. A girl is missing and the townsfolk are convinced that Mr Oats, Merula’s and Raven’s host, has something to do with it.

Right from the start, Death Comes to Dartmoor struck me as very atmospheric. It felt to me like a combination of an Agatha Christie novel (because of all the mystery), Wuthering Heights (because of the gothic feel and the moors and rugged landscapes, and some rather peculiar characters) and – and bear with me here, kids, this is going to sound strange and rather unconventional – Beauty and the Beast. That part where Belle walks around the forbidden part of the castle, and there’s that eerie music, and everything seems strange and malevolent? That. That vibe is exactly what I got from Death Comes to Dartmoor, when Raven and Merula wander around Oats’ house and find jars with dead animals and a kraken to boot.
In an author’s note, Vivian states that it was her love for The Hound of the Baskervilles that made her want to set a mystery in Dartmoor, including a legendary murderous creature. It was hearing David Attenborough speak of the mythological kraken and the giant squid that made her decide that in this story the creature would be a kraken / squid. Reading Death Comes to Dartmoor and the author’s note made me very curious about both The Hound of the Baskervilles and David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, so I’ve listened to the former via Audible and added the latter to my to-watch list. (Full disclosure: I liked Death Comes to Dartmoor much more than The Hound of the Baskervilles)
Oats keeping his kraken on a bath stand was inspired by this famous photograph (Moses Harvey in 1874), by the way.
When Vivian contacted me to ask if I wanted to review Death Comes to Dartmoor via NetGalley, she told me that it’s the second instalment in the Merriweather and Royston Mystery series but that it can be read as a standalone. Having read it, I agree, since there are no spoilers of the first book (The Butterfly Conspiracy) and I didn’t feel like I was missing something vital to the story. However, it’s obvious that the foundations of the mystery surrounding the main characters have been laid in the first book – as well they should be – and I did feel like I was missing a little something there, that maybe I would have related to Merula just a tad more, or feel a little more involved in her relationship with Raven. As it stands, I did like them and we all got along just fine, but I think perhaps at a somewhat more superficial level, if that makes any sense at all. Anyhoo, Merula is quite a character. I always love a strong female character, especially when it’s a young emancipated woman in far from emancipated times, standing up for what she wants, even if it goes against social conventions. She’s got quite the brain too, sharp as a tack she is, and I really enjoyed spending time with her. Merula is haunted by the ghosts of her parents, never having known them, having no memories of them. I found this a nice little side mystery to the main one, and I’m hoping to find out a little more about Merula in the next instalment (and in the first instalment which I happily added to my wishlist as soon as I’d finished Death Comes to Dartmoor).

Death Comes to Dartmoor is a great addition to any mystery lover’s collection, especially if you like your mysteries on the dark, atmospheric side. Recommended!
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Death Comes To Dartmoor is the second book in the A Merriweather and Royston Mystery series.

Merula Merriweather and Lord Royston have set off for Dartmoor to visit with a fellow zoologist and friend of Royston, Mr. Oaks. Mr. Oaks has a rather extensive collection of rare specimens which includes a kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.

When they arrive Mr. Oaks seems to be rather deranged. Royston with the help of his valet, Bowsprit, get him settled in his bedchamber. They are rather surprised that there are no servants in the house as their visit was expected. They are awakened the next morning by a vicious mob who want to hang Oaks. Mr. Bixby, a neighbor of Oaks, shows up and can calm the mob and get them to leave. He informs Merula and Royston that the maid that worked at Oaks home was found murdered and the mob believes that she was murdered by a kraken that Oaks owns.

As Merriweather and Royston begin to investigate to clear Oaks name they find many suspects may have killed the maid. The spurned boyfriend, Ben Webber seems to be high on the list. Also going on is a battle between some of the residents of the town that want a railroad to service the local community to be in more tourist. The wreckmaster, who has had a stranglehold on the town for many years wants things to stay the way they are. Even the neighbor, Mr. Bixby ranks high on the miss of suspects. Hopefully, they will find the murderer before any other deaths occur.

A subplot to the story concerns Merriweather’s search for the identity of her parents. There are a group of traveling actors near the Oaks home and one of them claims to know who her parents are but is reluctant to share the information with her. Merriweather hopes they will be around long enough to convince the man to tell her what he thinks to know about her parents.

This a well-plotted and told story with an interesting cast of characters. The story’s setting and time seemed to be properly researched and written.
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“Death Comes to Dartmoor” is the second installment in the “A Merriweather and Royston Mystery” by Vivian Conroy. It is a great historical mystery series that takes place during the Victorian era.

The mist-shrouded moors of Devon proffer a trove of delights for two vacationing zoologists—but also conceal a hoard of dark secrets reaching down to the fathomless depths of the ocean.

Miss Merula Merriweather barely saved her uncle from the gallows after he was wrongly accused of murder—and now, she’s left the bustle of Victorian London to recuperate in the fresh air of Dartmoor with her fellow zoologist, Lord Raven Royston. The trip offers a unique treat, as they’ll be staying with a friend of Raven’s, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens—including a kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.

But all is not right in the land of tors, heaths, and mist. Their host’s maid has vanished without a trace, and the townspeople hold him responsible, claiming that his specimens are alive and roam the moors at night, bringing death to anyone who crosses their path. Merula and Raven are skeptical—but the accusations become more ominous when they find several specimen jars empty.

As the two hunt for clues across a desolate and beautiful landscape, a stranger appears bearing a shadowy secret from Merula’s past. Could there be a connection between her family history, the missing girl, and a fearsome monster that could be on the loose? The race is on to find the truth.

The characters are well developed and likeable. The description of moors in Devon was realistic and in true spooky fashion. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep me wanting to find out what will happen next. The book is engaging from start to finish, grabbing you from the very beginning.

I highly recommend this series but I also suggest that the books be read in the order they are written.

I requested and received an Advanced Reader Copy from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This is my first’ Merriweather and Royston mystery’. This is a standalone mystery, and there is sufficient backstory to place the characters, and their relationship in this story, but if you can, read book one first.

The Dartmoor setting of this novel plays on the Victorian belief that strange, dangerous creatures roam the moor in the darkness. This is not the Dartmoor I know, but it is well documented in Victorian literature like ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

This story contains all the essential elements of a Victorian murder mystery. Enigmatic, intelligent, but flawed detectives, with a degree of emotional damage. A community steeped in folklore and tradition, and a dislike of outsiders or anyone who is different from them. An undercurrent of criminal activity, and gruesome murder, possibly due to supernatural causes.

The mystery that unfolds in this story has all of the above. There is much we do not know about our detectives, but they are complex individuals. Victorian pioneers, a little before their time, especially Merriweather. The mystery is well constructed and embellished with Victorian beliefs and themes, that make solving it difficult.

The writing style and time period, will not suit everyone, but it is faithfully represented, and worth reading, to see if it is for you.

I received a copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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After reading the first book in the Merriweather and Royston Mystery series by Vivian Conroy, I’ve been looking forward this second installment, Death Comes to Dartmoor.  And, once again, I wasn’t disappointed.  

Merula Merriweather has temporarily relocated to the English countryside in order to recover from injuries she has sustained. She is accompanied by Lord Raven who, like Merula, is a zoologist and they will stay with Lord Charles Oak, the owner of an extensive specimen collection.  However, almost upon their arrival, the couple is confronted with a murder and they quickly discover that there is more to it than meets the eye.

This is a terrific series that takes place during the Victorian era.  Merula is a scientist and a woman who marches to her own drummer.  Obviously, this is not the expected behavior of a young woman during this period of time.  Lord Raven and Merula have become colleagues and it’s interesting to watch their relationship continue to develop.  The characters they encounter are varied and unique, and the descriptions of the countryside add to the charm of the book.

I highly recommend this series but I also suggest that the books be read in the order they are written. This will add greatly to the reader’s enjoyment of the series and will be able to understand the references that are made about previous events.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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After their adventure in London it has been agreed that Merula Merriweather needs a rest so she travels with Lord Raven Royston to the mysterious Dartmoor. Aiming to exchanging the air of Victorian London for the fresh air and peace of Dartmoor. While staying woth the friend, Charles Oaks, and fellow zoologist, who has a collection of interesting and rare species that Raven is interested in studying.
But all is not well with his friend or the people of the area and soon a body is discovered.
An added complication is that the area has a special meaning to Merculas' past, a past that is hidden from her.
Although the second in the series it can easily be read as a standalone story.
I enjoyed this well-written cozy mystery and liked the characters and not just the two main ones. I look forward to reading the next in the series.
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I do so enjoy historical mysteries and when they are set during the Victorian period, well, I have no problem setting aside whatever was on my to do list and get lost in it. Last year I got lost in the first of this series, The Butterfly Conspiracy and it was good enough to rate five stars. Here's to another five star mystery. 
Merula Merriweather is a Victorian only because of the time period. As a person she marches to her own drummer. Her passion is butterflies and she has, with the help of Raven Royston, succeeded in clearing her uncle of a murder charge. He raised her and has acted as her 'front man' regarding the butterflies. That case is now closed and she and Raven are off for a change of scenery. Traveling with them are her maid, Ann Lamb (now her personal companion) and Raven's valet. Bowsprit. They are going to Dartmoor which is one of my favorite places, so much atmosphere that it just begs for a spooky mystery to be spun. I won't go into great detail because of spoilers but this tale has a Kraken in it, believe it or not and the locals are believers. The zoologist who collected this beast is a friend of Raven's. When they arrive at his residence it turns out that his maid has gone missing, later being found dead. Rumors fly that the Kraken got her. Superstitions are the norm and the locals are focusing all of their fear and anger on Raven's friend, Charles Oaks. Will Merula and Raven be able to figure out the mystery before the locals get their revenge? Will there be some progress in the growing romance between Merula and Raven? I don't allow spoilers so brew yourself a cuppa, find a nice comfy chair and settle down for a fun read. I hope that there will be another book to enjoy this time next year.
My thanks to the publisher Crooked Lane and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I enjoyed the first in the Merriweather and Royston mysteries immensely, and the second one lives up to the promise that this would be a stunning and very satisfying series.

Following on from the events in the first book, Merula Merriweather, under the watchful eye of Raven Royston, heads for the country to recover from the injuries she has sustained as well as getting her out of London for a while. However, before they even reach their destination of Dartmoor there are signs of trouble; it seems to follow them around!

What follows is a puzzling and enthralling tale of intrigue. Not easy to work out, and so much the better for it! With a murder to solve and a friend being wrongly accused, there is plenty for the pair to ponder on and an abundance of characters to suspect. As with all the best tales, there is more than one thread to this tale, and they progress side by side. Not in the least a straightforward mystery, and a worthy successor to The Butterfly Conspiracy.

Vivan Conroy writes many different kinds of mysteries; his 'cosies' are excellent entertainment, his period mysteries always well researched and plotted but I think that this mystery series tops them all. These are utterly superb; true to the time they are set in and gripping, interesting reads. With a little hint at the end of this one as to where they may head next, I cannot wait! In the style of some of the very best mystery writers this is a superb read and one I highly recommend to all those who love a good historical mystery. As such, it is absolutely a five star read!

My thanks to publisher Crooked Lane Books for my copy via NetGalley. All opinions are, as always, strictly honest and entirely my own.
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