H.Y. Hanna produces another fun cozy mystery in Two Down, Bun to Go. Gemma Rose has now owned her tea room in Oxford for four months, and it is proving a big success. But one night she gets a call from her close friend Seth, one of the youngest senior professors in Oxford, begging her to sneak to his particular college, evading the police, to retrieve a letter that he had left in the pigeon hole of another professor in the anger of the moment. Gemma does as he begs, but it doesn’t take long before she learns that the professor, with whom Seth had a very public fight, was found stabbed and Seth discovered standing over the body. Naturally he gets arrested.
Cassie, Gemma’s best friend and employee in her tea room, desperately begs Gemma to use her influence over Devlin O’Connor, the man Gemma once turned down in marriage due to her parents’ social pressures but who now is a detective with the CID. Risking her first date with him since her return to England after eight years in Australia, Gemma tries to pressure Devlin to help out her friend, raising his ire. What a terrible end to a first date! Since Gemma is certain that Seth is innocent, she goes out on her own to fond the truth.
One of the great strengths of this series is the great characters. Gemma shows real humanity, though her snooping does go beyond what seems normal for a regular person. Her mother is positively delightful, with a new addiction to Internet shopping. She goes off on a last-minute trip to Indonesia that she got a good deal on online, calling Gemma at 2am for help with haggling over a fishing boat ride. There is a question of Gemma’s love interest. Will she choose Devlin, her first love but with whom she always seems to fight when they are together, or Lincoln, the nice doctor her parents are pushing at her? And finally, there are “The Old Biddies,” a group of four women who come to the tea room every day and eagerly find their own ways to snoop into each mystery.
I appreciated the running topic of homelessness found in this book, in particular the way so many are seniors who once held jobs but whose pensions don’t fully provide for them. In addition, it brings up the way that so many homeless have strong ties to their pets, but so many housing projects don’t allow animals. This causes many to be forced to choose between a home and their fur family. The book also highlights the pride of many working or senior citizen poor, who refuse to accept charity despite being hardly able to provide for themselves.
I continue to love the narration of Pearl Hewitt in the audio edition. She helps to bring out the fun of the book and its humorous moments. I really enjoyed her depiction of the scene when Gemma’s cat, Muesli, gets into the walls of the house through a vent, causing the fire department to drill holes in the walls to try to get him loose, only for Muesli to jump out of another vent. The scene was fun as it was, but Hewitt’s performance really brings the scene to life.
I really enjoyed Two Down, Bun to Go, just as I have loved the previous two books. It has an interesting mystery with plenty of red herrings and terrific characters. I give it five stars!
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