In Manna from Hades by Carola Dunn, set in 1960s Cornwall, Eleanor Trewynn, a widow returned after a lifetime of adventures all over the world on behalf of LonStar (London Save the Starving Council), comes downstairs one morning to discover the murdered body of a young man unknown to anyone in her area. Eleanor had spent the previous day collecting donations for the thrift shop that raises money for LonStar. Upon unloading her car, she found a briefcase anonymously left in her car filled with jewelry that she assumes to be paste. Living above the LonStar shop, Eleanor finds the body amid the new donations piled up in the store room. With her absent-mindedness about locking her doors and using her keys, often forgetting them anywhere, including in the door or car, the young man could have easily entered the building. But why anyone would have even wanted to get into a charity thrift shop confuses the police, which includes Eleanor’s niece, Detective Sergeant Megan Pencarrow.
Eventually Eleanor remembers the jewelry in her safe, which her friends push her to notify the police about, and the police recognize the very valuable jewelry as some pieces stolen from a jeweler in London. This sheds light on the possible motive for someone to break into the shop and maybe for the murder too. But it takes plenty of police work on Megan’s behalf, working with her Scotland Yard detective former boyfriend, to find out the identity of the dead young man.
The book carries plenty of culture, both Cornish and 1960s. We see the rural life that both Megan and Eleanor live in Cornwall, with such details as the views of the countryside, the local citizenry, and the community. The book also illustrates life in the 1960s, such as the difficulties that Megan experiences as a woman in the constabulary and the homeless hippy runaway teens who live together on the streets in Bristol.
The audio version is narrated by Wanda McCaddon. I enjoyed her performance, and I think the book was enhanced by her reading it.
I have long been a fan of Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series, so I was excited to see that Dunn’s Cornish series is now being made available on Audible. This book seems to fit with the mood of the era, though I like the Daisy Dalrymple books better. I give the book four stars.
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.