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Aunt Dimity's Death

(Aunt Dimity Mystery #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  11,949 ratings  ·  1,220 reviews
Down-on-her-luck Lori Shepherd thought Aunt Dimity was a pretend character in her mother's bedtime stories ... until the Dickensian law firm of Willis & Willis offers the possibility of large inheritance -- if she can discover the secret hidden in letters between Dimity and her mother. Plus 1-pg recipe Beth's Oatmeal Cookies. ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  11,949 ratings  ·  1,220 reviews

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Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am going to lump all of her books into one review because it will simply take too long to review all of her books individually. I have been a huge fan of these since I started reading them about six years ago. I always look forward to her new release with some anxiety, because apparently book sales are down and there was a question prior to her Deep Blue See book (I believe it was that one), that it may get dropped from being published. Hence, the new artwork on the more recent books in an eff ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are few books that are so sweet, so perfect, so interminably beautiful. A blast into the past of the 1940s, though set in the 90s. Reminiscent of L.M. Montgomery, few books have made me as happy as this one has by just being astoundingly brilliant. If I could give it more than five stars, I would. Of course, having just finished it, I perhaps have less objectivity than I should, given my current overjoyed, amazed state, but still. I must read the others immediately! If you are expecting a ...more
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I got this on CD from the library and really enjoyed it. It's about a young woman who learns that her late mother and the mysterious Aunt Dimity conspired to leave her a very unusual legacy. It's more a ghost story and romance than a mystery; sophisticated enough to hold my attention, but there was nothing in it I couldn't listen to when my 5-year-old was in the car (she liked it too!). The characters, settings, and situations were so charming that I wished I could just jump into the book and li ...more
Elise Stone
Aug 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think that this book is the perfect example of how expectations can color your impression of a book. Although the front cover boasts "One of the 100 best mysteries of all time," this book isn't really a mystery.

There's no murder. There's no hunt for whodunnit. There's no bad guy.

I was expecting a traditional murder mystery, something along the lines of Agatha Christie perhaps, because I knew the story was partially set in an English cottage. I was drawn into the opening. The main character, Lo
Josephine (Jo)
A thoroughly enjoyable cosy mystery although I was a little perplexed as to how this would work as the main character apparently dies in the first book of the series. Never fear all will be revealed. Aunt Dimity was a lifelong friend and correspondent with Ruth, Lori's mother. The two ladies met in London during WWI and after Ruth returned to America the pair kept up a profuse correspondence until their deaths within a short time of each other.
Lori finds herself with little money, grieving for h
Aug 25, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost, mystery
I couldn't finish this book. I got half way through it and tried to skip to the end, but it was too much for me. I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed, I was looking forward to a nice long series to settle into.

I really HATED Lori, the main character. She is rude, childish, ill mannered and demanding. She treats Bill (her companion through the story) like crap and is never corrected for it. And he rolls over like a puppy dog, allows her to treat him horribly and never expects an apology.

I did
Lynn Spencer
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
4.5 stars This is one of the few mysteries I've read that didn't involve a murder. Instead, this book, cleverly disguised as a cosy mystery, takes us into a world of adults looking at childhood memories through grown-up eyes. There are memories sweet and difficult, dark secrets, and finally, a love story or two. There's really not so much of a mystery here, but more a righting of past wrongs.

This is an unusual and rather understated little book, and one I enjoyed very much.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I award four stars to many wonderful books, so there is a distinction from outrageously special ones. Those you stick with all night, forsaking other activities because "you're at a good part" non-stop. So superbly done, its characters and quirks integrate into your life and everyday things remind you of the story. “Aunt Dimity's Death” was excellent from start to finish and I thank Nancy Atherton for creating it. Her peculiar first lines, which advertise the synopsis, successfully draw you in a ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A really sweet read and classified as a cosy mystery, but I would have to say that it's more a ghost story and romance than a mystery. Certainly not a murder mystery - more of a I wonder what happened all those years ago.

It took me a long time to read - but I was totally immersed in the story - and there are a lot more in this series that I will eventually get around to reading.

You really have to suspend belief when you read this story - the different characters are all very interesting so make
Jun 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was cliche and immature. And I never really understood why the main character was constantly throwing tantrums and why no one was offended when she did. What is she enraged about? Why does everyone think she's spunky and clever? I thought she was whiny and boring. ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got this book from my grandma years and year ago. I super-love it.
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The cosiest of cosy mysteries. The setting and the characters were all exceedingly charming, and that was the problem, really. Any character who was the slightest bit unpleasant was swiftly and effectively dealt with, and I have experienced more dramatic tension from drinking a weak and milky cup of tea. It was a very sweet book, but (and I say this as a vegetarian) I generally prefer a little more meat to my mysteries.
I tried to finish this, but I simply can't do it.
The writing is fine, but the main protagonist is simply awful. Truly unlikable. I get it, her mother died, her life is in a shambles, but she's a grown woman. Almost 30, but acts 5. I don't know if the story gets better, I'm not sure if the series gets better, but good Lord, Lori is a giant pain in the ass. Seriously. And she's inconsistent in her indignation.
Examples: Mild spoilers ahead if you don't want those stop reading this review now.
Jan 01, 2017 marked it as flipped-to-the-end  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, romance, mystery
This series is more romance than mystery I think - quiet explorations and adventures which lead to happy endings. I'm going to go on to read the second one, but I flipped to the end of this one because the romance involved (view spoiler) ...more
I love this! This is like a kids book for adults! I don't mean a kids book as in the picture books for 5 year olds or the middle grade reads that kids are devouring today such as Captain Under pants. I am talking about Winnie the Pooh, Beezus and Ramona, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Paddington Bear. All those wonderful stories that have enthralled children for years and will continue to do so for years to come. These are the children's books I plan on keeping forever and as soon as I can find and buy ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Ultimate reading list
Lori Shepard is shocked when she finds out that Aunt Dimity died. Mostly because she thought she was a fictional character her mom made him to tell her bed time stories. Not only is she real but she has left her a task to complete and then she will receive $10,000. Lori could really use the money so off she goes to Merry Old England to stay in Aunt Dimity's cottage. With her is Bill Willis the son of her Aunt Dimity's lawyer to help her with the task. But once at the cottage strange things start ...more
Connie G
When Lori was a child, her mother told her bedtime stories about Aunt Dimity. Lori thought she was a fictional character until she received notice that she had received an inheritance from Aunt Dimity. Accompanied by the younger lawyer in the firm Willis & Willis, Lori journeys to Aunt Dimity's cottage in the Cotswolds. This is a cute story with a cozy mystery, a light romance, some improbable events, and a friendly ghost (no, not Casper). It was a nice change of pace after reading some heavy bo ...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
This was sweet, but not the mystery novel I was expecting. It's more a romance and a ghost story than a mystery (and there is no murder, if you require that in a cozy mystery). I wasn't very fond of Lori, who is kind of a pill the whole time, nor of Bill, who was rather annoying and too quickly spotted as the intended love interest, but Aunt Dimity was a great character and the letter-writing friendship she had with Lori's mother was the absolute best thing. ...more
Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
Review originally published in a post on summer books at The Bookwyrm's Hoard.

Aunt Dimity's Death: A mystery without a murder, a Cinderella tale, an Anglophile’s dream-come-true, and the coziest ghost story I’ve ever read. How can you resist a book which begins:

When I learned of Aunt Dimity’s death, I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she was alive.

Maybe I should explain.

What follows is one of my all-time favorite comfort reads.

FCC disclosure: I've owned this

Just when a mystery element came in this one, it started hocus poscus nonsense with the aunt writing stuff from the beyond or whatever. I can't deal with silly stuff like that. I can't take it seriously. Just a waste of time, so gave it up a little over half way. If superstitious nonsense is your thing, you can have it.
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, mystery
I didn't hate this.
But I couldn't suspend my disbelief.
The romance was a little forced.
The mystery wasn't that compelling.
I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend, who referred to it as a “cozy mystery.” I don't know if that is an actual genre, but if so, this book is certainly its poster child. Cups of tea and fluffy slippers abound, and that really is a stuffed pink rabbit you see on the cover. His name is Reginald, and he is a character. And our protagonist, who, of course, starts out being prickly and studiously non-domestic, ends up just as warm and cuddly as her stuffed bunny and provides us, on the ...more
Olga Godim
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Absolutely incredulous premise but a delightful read nonetheless, especially if you suspend your disbelief. The prose is expressive and unpretentious, flowing like a light bubbly drink. Not champagne certainly but maybe a Breezer or a Cooler. And although not much is going on in the plot, I liked the characters and the descriptions. The novel’s low-key blend of a ghost story, a love story, and a bit of mystery was sweet, funny, and cozy.
Besides the premise, what I found hard to believe in this b
Lori Henrich
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all the main character has a great name! :) It seemed like it took a little bit of time to get to the mystery, but it was ok the story leading up to it was fun to read. I enjoyed the style of writing and getting to know the characters.

Lori has know Aunt Dimity her entire life. Her stories lulled her to sleep as her mother shared them with her at bedtime. Lori never realized that Aunt Dimity was a real person until she was contacted by a lawyer and told that she was mentioned in the will
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, mystery, cozy
There isn't much of a mystery here, most of it lies with uncovering some secrets of the past, but I still very much enjoyed this book. It was more a story of the power of love & forgiveness over anger & fear than a whodunit type mystery. It's also a bit of a fairy tale complete with fairy godmother type benefactor & a sweet romance. I think now that Lori is set up in this manner the other books in the series are more traditional mysteries with Aunt Dimity's ghost being helpful. ...more
Kasey Ashton
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread the first Aunt Dimity book and fell just as in love as the first time. This book is so sweet and warm...and so outside my usual horror reads. It is by far the coziest ghost story that I have ever read.
Sarah Poss
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As far as cozy mysteries go, this was a gem. The characters were endearing and the setting was enchanting. There were a few twists that were fun and unexpected. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending.
Sherry Sharpnack
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a satisfying little read about a woman who has lost her mother recently and cannot find her place in the world. She fondly remembers the childhood stories w/ which her mother soothed her to sleep every night about the adventures of Aunt Dimity.

Lori finds out that Aunt Dimity was a real person when a law firm contacts her w/ an unusual request. Lori finds out about the long friendship between her mother and Dimity and that Dimity wants Lori to write an introduction to the stories. Lori t
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lori Shepherd’s childhood memories are turned upside down when she learns that her mother’s bedtime stories were based on a real person. Having lost her mother unexpectedly, and now learning that Aunt Dimity, a character she loved, has also died Lori struggles to understand everything she is learning about her mother’s life.
This is the first book in a series featuring Aunt Dimity. This series has been around for over 20 years and I have just discovered it. From the moment Lori arrived at Willis
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much anyone
This is such a delightful story! I don't think Atherton can claim the honor of starting the cozy mystery subgenre, but it certainly gave it a lot of popularity!

I purchased a copy because I was pretty sure I'd want to keep it and reread, and I'm right. I read this first in the 1990s while at Balboa Branch library, but was too busy to keep up with the series. Now I want to read them all in order. Although I think I'll try to get them from the library instead of buying them. This one though, is a g
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Mystery Madness: August 2020 Selection: Aunt Dimity's Death (Aunt Dimity Mysteries) 10 21 Aug 26, 2020 02:22PM  
Has anyone read this author? 9 30 Jul 30, 2018 03:47PM  

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Nancy Atherton is not a white-haired Englishwoman with a softly wrinkled face, a wry smile, and wise gray eyes, nor does she live in a thatched cottage behind a babbling brook in a tranquil, rural corner of the Cotswolds.

She has never taken tea with a vicar (although she drank an Orange Squash with one once) and she doesn't plan to continue writing after her allotted time on earth (though such pla

Other books in the series

Aunt Dimity Mystery (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • Aunt Dimity and the Duke (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #2)
  • Aunt Dimity's Good Deed (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #3)
  • Aunt Dimity Digs In (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #4)
  • Aunt Dimity's Christmas (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #5)
  • Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #6)
  • Aunt Dimity: Detective (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #7)
  • Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #8)
  • Aunt Dimity: Snowbound (Aunt Dimity Mystery #9)
  • Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #10)
  • Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea (Aunt Dimity Mystery, #11)

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“They were tales of commonplace courage and optimism, for I knew from my own experience that everyday virtues endure best, and that quiet courage is worth more than the grandest derring-do.” 5 likes
“When I learned of Aunt Dimity's death, I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she'd been alive.” 3 likes
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