Cover Image: Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village

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What a lovely English pastime. A sport where the players wear nice white sweaters, the matches go on for five days, and everyone drinks large quantities of tea and gin. The terminology is so quaint! Wickets, pudding, bunny, teapot, lollipop . . . Just a lovely, civilised time, with players running around a squishy green field with paddle-shaped bats, whacking a rock-hard ball, thinking about how much they resent their teammates. The highest trophy in the cricketing world is literally an urn full of ashes, so don't say you haven't been warned.

ABOUT 'YOUR GUIDE TO NOT GETTING MURDERED IN A QUAINT ENGLISH VILLAGE': In the England of murder mysteries and TV detectives, no destination is deadlier than a quaint country village, and you never know you're in a murder village until it's too late. No attraction or local character is safe--whether in the pub for a pint, or on the manicured grounds of the local estate for a shooting party, bodies can turn up anywhere! Danger lurks around every cobblestone corner. If you are foolish enough to make the trip, at least be prepared.

Brought to life with dozens of Gorey-esque drawings by illustrator Jay Cooper and peppered with allusions to classic crime series and unmistakably British murder lore, Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village gives you the tools you need to avoid the same fate, should you find yourself in a suspiciously cozy English village (or simply dream of going). Good luck, and whatever you do, avoid the vicar.

MY THOUGHTS: A mostly amusing and clever, tongue-in-cheek read for fans of classic English murder mystery series such as Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders, which I devoured along with my breakfast this morning.

I did think the section on the butler could have used a bit more work. After all, isn't it always the butler?

And a note of warning - don't do the quizzes! I only got one answer right, and it still killed me.

Not to be taken seriously, unless, of course, you are planning on visiting a quaint English Village.

I wonder if a body has ever been concealed in the thatch of one of those lovely chocolate-box cottages?


#YourGuidetoNotGettingMurderedinaQuaintEnglishVillage #NetGalley

I: @maureenjohnsonbooks @clarksonpotter @tenspeedpress

T: @maureenjohnson @TenSpeedPress

#humour #practicalguide #crime

THE AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village by Maureen Johnson and illustrated by Jay Cooper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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Are you one of those people? You know, they binge watch all the British crime shows they can. They read the mysteries by British authors. They join groups on social media to share their favorite British mysteries and to get suggestions for more. They want to visit the home of their favorite murder stories. If you’re not that person, then you know someone who is. 

That person? That’s is who this book is for. 

Right from the start, Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village starts talking about the danger you put yourself in as soon as you leave the urban streets of the big cities and head for the village. It looks lovely on the outside, all weathered stone and beautiful gardens. But what lurks behind those lovely  facades are danger, decay, and death. And you need to prepare yourself before you find yourself in an English Murder Village, begging for your life. 

The typical English village consists of two parts, the village proper and the manor. But beware—neither place is safe. 

The village consists of places like the church (the bell tower, the vault, the altar—all good places for a murder), the pub (where, as a visitor, you will be watched by everyone the entire time you’re there), and the village hall (the place where hobbyists go to share their interests with others and nurse massive grudges against anyone who doesn’t agree that their jam is the finest). And then there is the fancy antique shop. The owner is always traveling, so it’s never open, yet it somehow stays afloat. (But nobody talks about that.)

If you do find yourself in a village, you might get to meet some of the residents. There’s the doctor, the publican, the oldest resident, the gossip, the constable, and the bird-watcher. There’s also the newest resident, who might actually talk to you (because no one else will talk to them), but don’t get too close. They’ll be dead soon. 

And that’s not even talking about all the ways you could be murdered at the village fete, a historical recreation, or at the manor house. Ah, the manor house with its residents and the staff, with the stairs to fall down and the sculptures to fall on you. There is the greenhouse, the basement, and the snakes. So many snakes. I mean knives. So many knives. Be careful meeting up with cousin Lucy in the library, don’t pose for the artist, and don’t get involved in any shooting party. 

And remember—don’t make a will. They can smell a fresh will, so let your family just battle it out amongst themselves. It’s so much safer. And there are fewer snakes. 

Written by Maureen Johnson and Jay Cooper, Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is filled with time-tested advice and chilling illustrations that underlie the danger of the quaint English village. It’s clever and funny and charming ,and the perfect gift for your favorite Anglophile, even if (especially if) that British mystery fan is you. 

I truly loved this book. It makes fun of all the tropes I find in my favorite murder mysteries, the books and the shows, and let me step back from the binge-watching and laugh at myself for falling for all these storylines. Basically, this is a Lemony Snicket book for adults, and I think it should find its way to every bookshelf next to the M.C. Beaton novels and the Midsomer Murders DVDs. 

Egalleys for Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village were provided by Ten Speed Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.
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A well-researched, carefully documented must read tome, complete with illustrations for anyone who might want something graphic to help them recall the text on their next trip to England. Of course I'm sure it's well researched and accurate, I've seen every episode of "Midsomer Murders". "Agatha Christie's Miss Marple", and many others....but I digress.

This is a must read for anyone who loves the English mystery. The illustrations are fantastic as they bring to life many of the images readers have dreamed up over the years of reading the classic English mystery novel. if you are mystery fan, you will love seeing and reading this as well as the idea that you can beat the quizes toward the end. Spoiler alert: you can't.

if you know anyone who is traveling to England, this is the perfect little bon voyage gift. It can entertain if not enlighten someone as they are on their way to visit, whether it be a new location (read village) to them, or one they've been to time and again. Likewise, if you know anyone who is addicted to mysteries, particularly classic English mystery novels, this is a great gift whether it's for a birthday, a bread and butter gift, or a stocking stuffer. Actually, you don't need an excuse, you can give it to anyone who loves mysteries as they will have the opportunity to read, enjoy, laugh, and nod their heads sagely as they move through one murder possibility to the next. 

The book itself would be an excellent addition to a coffee table, a bathroom reading basket, a nightstand in the guest bedroom, or any number of places someone might want to read for a minute or five. It's short, funny, easily read in spurts or straight through. It's the perfect tiny gift, whether you are giving it to someone else or to yourself.
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So, you’re planning a trip to England.

You’ve watched Midsomer Murders from start to finish, and read every Agatha Christie. You know what to expect.

Or so you think… Maybe there’s one more thing you should read first. Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is a short but brilliant tongue-in-cheek book, preparing you for your inevitable demise in, well, Tongue-in-Cheek, or whatever little town you’re preparing to visit on your holiday. Maureen Johnson presents a very quick read with Gorey-esque illustrations provided by Jay Cooper. The guide introduces you to the titular village and its denizens and their various quirks (beware the vicar) before moving on to the nearby manor and the residents therein.

I loved this book. It took me maybe 30 minutes to read from beginning to end, but I vastly enjoyed every minute of it, spending a large portion of the time stifling my laughter so as to not wake my sleeping family members. Johnson’s humor is spectacular, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s out in the world today. Go find it. Just… Maybe don’t go to the little bookshop in the quaint English village to pick up a copy.

My utmost thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

First off, it's Maureen Johnson. You were warned. You've read the newsletters and somehow survived. You think you've got her beat. Foolish mortal!

This book is terrifying and hilarious. I grew up watching Murder She Wrote and reading Agatha Christie. I consume cozy mysteries like chocolate. The Guide is a distillation of all the murders that take place in those books. (Boiled down in vats maybe??) 

The wonderful illustrations really up the creepiness factor. SO GOOD! SO FUNNY!! Extremely alarming.

CW Dead children

The only part I had a problem with was the mentions of dead orphans. I know it's a trope, but I found it actually disturbing.

For the most part this book was laugh-out-loud funny. Maureen should do a BINGO card to accompany it, for us to use the next time we are reading a cozy mystery and being grateful we are safely not in an English Murder Village.
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This charming book had me laughing with each page. I love mystery books and this book brings all the tropes out into the open and wittily describes them. I love everything having to do with the vicar! Also the mini "quizzes" are hilarious. They help you determine if you could survive visiting a Quaint English Village. I really loved this book. If you don't mind poking fun at the great mystery genre you will love this book too!
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This book was HYSTERICAL! What a fun read! 13 year old me would absolutely be obsessed with this book!

This is by no means a story but rather, a cautionary guide on how not to die (you will) in a quaint English (murder) village.

The dark satire reminded me a lot of Lemony Snicket and the illustrations reminded me of the book In a Dark, Dark Room.

I want to say my favorite part were the quizzes at the end of each chapter, but really everything was my favorite.

I definitely plan on buying this book.

Thank you Netgalley, Maureen Johnson, and the publisher, for allowing me to read this ARC.
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This little book gave me a big laugh!  Hilarious, spam-y, parody, satire, tongue-in-cheek--it's a little of all of them.  Your Guide is a spoof on a guidebook, helping the reader identify (and avoid) the locations and actors in a quaint English village which are fraught with danger for the unwary traveler.  It borrows plot devices and twists from iconic and run-of-the-mill murder mysteries alike.  Unsurprisingly, there's lots of talk of death, and the illustrations are equally comically graphic.  A clever and witty addition to any mystery lover's shelves, this would make a great gift for the bibiophile who has everything.
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Ghastly (but in a good way) little guidebook with Charles Addams-Ogden Nash-New Yorker grade illustrations. Since I often hike in quaint English villages, I find this entertaining and will probably buy a hard copy as a remembrance of our time here in London. Even though the author and the illustrator both live in America.
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During the pandemic, my husband and I have been watching Midsomer Murders, from the beginning to (as of last week) Season 21.  The various villages of Midsomer county are outrageously lethal, with murders happening in every spot that normally typifies the pleasure of village living.

This tongue-in-cheek book is organized into short topics like: village buildings, events and residents, and manor houses and their spaces, staff, residents and guests.  I had to laugh at how often a topic is one featured on Midsomer Murders.  Murder by bell tower, vats of cider or other liquids, murders in churches, murders using swords from suits of armor, and so on.  The topics are accompanied by drawings that look a little like Edward Gorey illustrations.

Though it’s entertaining, you should know that this is an extremely short book; one you can read in an hour or so.  But it’s good looking, with its Gorey-esque typeface and artwork.  It would make a nice gift for a fan of Midsomer Murders, Agatha Raisin, or other books and TV shows about English village murders.
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A quick read but nonetheless entertaining, witty and immensely enjoyable - if you’re into murder-most-foul in the heart of the English countryside and a healthy dose of irreverent British humour. Or likewise, if you should ever be in a situation where you would rather <i>avoid</i> being murdered in an idyllic village/stately home/manor house, then this one-stop guide is all you will ever need. 

Would make a great Christmas stocking filler for any fan of detective series and worth a browse if you have time (and no set plans) to kill …

“The Village Shop: It sells cheese, stamps, tea, and death.”
“If you arrive after dark, assume the hounds will eat you.”
“We haven’t had a murder in this village since … oh dear, there’s been another one.”

My thanks to NetGalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Very funny, 10/10 humor. If you find Maureen Johnson's tweets funny (and like, why wouldn't you), then you will love Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village.

It's a fairly quick read, as it's not too long and it's filled with lovely art. I really like the writing style; it reminds me of Lemony Snicket in a lot of ways (but again, this book is very Maureen Johnson, through and through).

There were several lines I wrote down because I liked the way they sounded, or I wanted to use them as poem inspiration, stuff like that. It's also a book that rewards you for paying closer attention—some names were referenced at one point, and I almost didn't scroll back to see who they were, but the joke was even funnier once I did.

The ending is FANTASTIC. I wasn't sure how a book like this could have a good ending, but it was entirely satisfying.

And for readers who love any book that begins with a map: this book begins with a map.

Once again, Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is delightful and perfectly funny. I devoured it in a single day and I'm sure you'll do the same.

Thank you to Netgalley, Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press, and Maureen Johnson for the chance to review this ARC.
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Whatever you need to know about this book is in the title itself. It’s a guidebook to survival in an English village. 

As you already know from the various crime mysteries and detective stories set in this distinct site, anything that can happen will happen, and no place is truly safe. This travelogue includes not just survival tips but also quizzes you on situations you might encounter and marks you on your response. As you make your way through every funny titbit of warning about English villages, you will find yourself laughing and nodding along at the memory of the same trope being used in some mystery novel you read.  Unfortunately, reading this book would also mean that now onwards, whenever you read a cosy mystery, you have an insider view of the setup and will be able to see twists coming a mile away. 

Anyone who loves cozy mysteries is sure to connect to every single one of the points mentioned in this funny little book. Right from village ponds to church towers, private rooms to public places, family members to village residents, this illustrated novella provides a detailed guide on how to escape with your life and limbs intact if you ever happen to visit any English village, the quintessential locale for murders and mysteries galore. 

As I progressed through the book, there was a sense of déjà vu as the content seemed to be getting more familiar. Then came a line that I remember guffawing at when I had first encountered it: “Stairs are the xylophones of death.” A quick Google search revealed the source article written by author Maureen Johnson on the website in early 2020. I just read through this article again and it’s like the precursor of this book. So you might like to take a look at the article on that website as a kind of sampler. If you enjoy that article, you’ll definitely find the book even funnier for it has lots more content to offer. 

Anyone who has a weird, twisted sense of humour (like Yours Truly here!) will ENJOY this book. The humour is very tongue in cheek and the BW illustrations (with a sprinkling of BLOOD-red wherever necessary) add a dash of spice to the ominous Baedeker. Pick it up when you are in the mood for a quick, light-hearted read. 

Thank you to Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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A very funny little book that takes a ribald look at the crime novel traditions of Christie and her ilk. The illustration is beautiful and the writing very funny, pointing out many hilarious aspects of the English Village that make it so idiosyncratic. I particularly enjoyed the cross-referencing. A highly enjoyable, light read.
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This was a very short read that was so much fun and I am so glad I was able to read this one. I love a good British mystery whether on tv or in book form and so this just resonated with me a lot and just had me laughing. It's all about the things you shouldn't do when visiting a quaint English villiage because you could end up the next murder in the villiage! :)  It had some really great illustrations that just added to the fun of this book!
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As a big fan of Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie, I found this book hysterically funny and completely true! Those little English villages can be DEADLY. 

Heartily recommended for those of us who binge watch Acorn TV and the BBC on a regular basis.
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I highly recommend this for any fan of cozy English mysteries, Midsomer Murder, Father Brown or Shakespeare & Hathaway.  If you ever added up the dead bodies in Midsomer Murders, you’d expect the villages to be empty. This “tongue in cheek” warning explains the places, people and events to avoid.  
The Churchyard - Technically, you’re supposed to be dead before you end up here, but villagers aren’t strict about this.  
The Village Fete - It’s like The Hunger Games, but dangerous.  
The drawings have a fabulous Edward Gordy feel to them.  
This is great fun and a wonderful way to spend an hour chuckling away.  
My thanks to netgalley and Ten Speed Press for an advance copy of this book.
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Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village
by Maureen Johnson (Author), Jay Cooper (Illustrator)

Having binge watched all the seasons of Midsomer Murders from our Texas home in the desert, I felt like this book would be for me. From my TV viewing, I know how dangerous the county English locales can be, that old folks are as likely to skewer you as to offer you tea (which is probably poisoned). Danger is lurking everywhere and the safer things look the more likely you'll die a violent, gruesome, embarrassing death. 

This book literally illustrates the dangers so well, leaving out nothing and reveling in bad taste, bad manners, and bad people to press home the fact that if you have the misfortune of reading this book in a quaint English village, it's too late, your days are numbered, and you are soon to be buried where no one will find your body. I've never been so glad to stay home and NOT visit a quaint English village. 

Thank you to Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for this ARC.
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If you love cozy British mysteries book or TV series like Agatha Raisin, Father Brown, Miss Marple, Midsomer Murders, etc. you need to pick this book up.  My family and I have joked for years that it seems pretty dangerous to live in any of these charming English towns. 
The book can easily be read in one sitting or you could spread it out and just read an entry at a time to prolong the fun.  It is too funny - macabre essays with Edmund Gorey style illustrations that will make you laugh out loud and shudder all at once. The guidebook style is also particularly fun and truly makes me question whether I should visit consider visiting any bucolic villages on my dream trip to England one day.

A very enjoyable afternoon read, preferably a dark and stormy afternoon!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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This is the perfect little book to gift to any lover of cozy mysteries, Midsommer Murders, Miss Marple and the like…… I laughed at loud at this little charmer. It gently pokes fun at all the tropes we know and love, from all our favorite village set mysteries. And the illustrations and quizzes make this that perfect stocking stuffer. Recommended.
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