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The Cold Light of Mourning (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #1)
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The Cold Light of Mourning

(Penny Brannigan #1)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,125 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Elizabeth J. Duncan spins a charming tale of murder and intrigue in this winning first novel.

The picturesque North Wales market town of Llanelen is shocked when Meg Wynne Thompson, a self-made beauty who has turned out to be something of an unpopular bride, goes missing on her wedding day…and turns up dead. The last person believed to have seen her is manicurist Penny Bran
Hardcover, First edition, 277 pages
Published May 28th 2009 by Minotaur Books (first published April 28th 2009)
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Randee Baty
If you watch much tv, read many magazines or watch many movies you would think that the world consists of 23 year old beautiful people. I'm so glad that mystery writers have bucked that trend and actually give us people who have a little experience with life. In The Cold Light of Mourning we get a heroine who is middle-aged and doesn't mind being so. I personally am glad to see more mystery writers writing characters in this age group.

Penny, a Canadian ex-pat manicurist living in Wales, has just
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Cozy mystery about a middle-aged lady running a nail salon in a little village in South Wales. Penny Brannigan is a Canadian transplant, living a comfortable (boring) life. Her dear friend Emma has just passed away and the village is also getting ready for a big wedding. The son of the largest landowner in the area is marrying a beauty he met while working in London. The bridal party have arranged to get their nails done at Penny's salon but things take a turn for the worse when the bride fails ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. As the author is Canadian, and I saw her talk about the book at a lecture, I had hoped to find a new mystery series and more importantly a Canadian author who's books I liked. But it was just okay.

When the small Welsh town of Llanelen is shocked by the disappearance of the bride of a local boy on her wedding day, nobody knows what to think. The bride had made herself unpopular in the town, but nobody wished her ill . . . or did they?

The last person to have seen
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mysteries, 2013
This book read easy enough, but by the end it was getting on my nerves. Mostly for a lot of small things, but sometimes those small things will kill the story for me.

First, even though this book took place in Wales, I didn't get the sense of place enough to feel I was there. For all intents and purposes, it could have taken place in Chicago for all the descriptive scenery I got. It was there, but not nearly enough or explicit enough.

Next, the nail shop owner, Penny, meets a harp player, has a l
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is an enjoyable cozy with a very likable protagonist. Set in North Wales, Penny -- a single Canadian woman who's been in Wales for 25 years -- runs the local manicure shop, and gets involved in a murder as a witness.

It was exactly what I was looking for -- charming, with an interesting mystery.
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't help but love it!!! Even if the intrigue is not very original, and I guessed the murderer quite easily, there were all kinds of clever twists in it. But it was the characters and the village life that fascinated me, all reminding of one of my greteast detective heroines - Miss Marple of course!!Now I want to have a manicure in Wales!!!
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-fiction
A promising premise had this book. 50-something Penny, Canadian, but 25 years an ex pat living in a quaint little village in Wales. Penny is an artist at heart but manicurist by trade. Her artist soul is possessed with an uncanny intuition and a superb attention to detail. She's quickly embroiled in a mystery by virtue of being the last person to have seen a missing bride on her wedding day. Unfortunately despite the initially interesting mystery and the appealing Wales setting, the book fell sh ...more
Cathy Cole
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
First Line: Emma Teasdale had been ill for some time and on a cool evening in early June, alone and peacefully, she died.

When visiting the market town of Llanelen in North Wales as a young student, Penny Brannigan was taken under schoolteacher Emma Teasdale's wing. They became fast friends, and Penny moved from Nova Scotia in Canada to Llanelen where she opened a small nail salon. As the years passed, the two women shared their lives with each other just as a mother and daughter might. Emma's de
I was on a mystery kick, reading a lot of Charlaine Harris' Aurora Teagarden series, so I thought I'd pick up a few authors who looked similar. i did finish this book, but won't be looking for more by the same author. The prose reminds me of a clumsy romance novel. The dialogue is stilted, and there are lots of details about about fancy houses, jewelry and such, presumably meant to be entertaining in taking you out of your day-to-day world. Here's an example:

'That'll be Welsh gold,' said the ma
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This easy-to-read, cozy mystery was a first from this author. It has the same wit and charm that you find in Agatha Christie mysteries with a late middle-aged manicurist who finds herself in the middle of the mystery of a vanishing bride who was last seen at her nail salon. With a touch of romance, lots of twists and turns, and enough clues to help you possibly determine the murderer, it definitely keeps your attention.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love a good cozy, so I was happy to discover an author and a series I hadn't yet read! Also lucky for me I was able to find the other books in the series just waiting for me on the shelf of my local library! Sorry to the other patrons who might want to check them out, I promise I will have them back soon!
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Because of the setting and premise, I'd hoped for more. This moved very slooowly....the mystery itself was ok, and the main characters were sweet, but stodgy and lead footed. And that was the good guys. The villains were exaggerated caricatures rather than realistic people. If you like cozies, you'll probably like this better than I did. Admittedly, I'm just not a fan.
Mystereity Reviews
Very cute and enjoyable read. Started out with too much detail before sliding into not enough detail. I also figured out who the murderer was before the murder happened, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book. Overall, a quick and light cozy, and I look forward to the other books in the series.
Selah Pike
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely delightful Cozy! Penny is a supremely likable, if somewhat reckless, heroine. The small Welsh village is a perfect setting, and the locals are colorful without being ridiculous. I'm so thrilled to have found a new (to me) Cozy author to love!
Carey Tynan
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A classic cosy mystery. Small village, large manor house, a nosy parker, and a spinster or two.
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A nice little debut novel that was very pleasant to read. I have a feeling this is the first in a series. Not too intellectually demanding, but some nice characters and an interesting setting.
Nancy H
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent cozy mystery set in Wales, a setting that seems like it should be idyllic, except for the murder of the bride the night before her wedding. Or was it the bride? A very good read!
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Our local bookclub read the Agatha Christie novel MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS in January as a salute to the 100th anniversary to Christie's first publication. While we had a great discussion including comparisons to the various movie interpretations of the novel, most of us came to the conclusion that we are drawn to the more complex character development in more modern mysteries. We also wonder just what the upcoming release of a brand new MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, starring Johnny Depp, wi ...more
Janet McCord
I really wanted to like this one. It had all the bells and whistles: cozy, picturesque village in Wales, likeable heroine, a very interesting murder that was difficult to solve and the author obviously knows about Britain and British customs. Still, there were a lot of things that bothered me. The characterization was not very well done. The main character gained a best friend and a cop boyfriend without any effort and both were besties and in love in no time at all--mostly after no more than 2 ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
(3.5 stars) This is the first book in the Penny Brannigan series. Penny loves her adopted hometown of Llanelen in Wales. She is currently a manicurist by trade and has been asked to to the nails of the bridal party. While the bridesmaids had theirs done earlier in the week, the bride is having hers done the morning of the wedding. When she fails to show up to the wedding and appears to have vanished, it seems that Penny may have been the last person to have seen her. Penny is also dealing with t ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Duncan, one of my favorite cozy writers introduces the reader to the main character and the regulars of the series in this book. The focusing on the inner world of the characters, and doing an amazing job of describing the frailties of human nature, the author reminds me of one of my favorite writers M. C. Beaton. Initially the story telling is well-paced but slow, and the content of the book is wonderful. The murder mystery is not necessarily interesting or intriguing, but it is used ...more
Becky Tatar
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Canadian ex-pat Penny Brannigan has lived in the Welsh town of Llanelan for years, running a manicure salon. Suddenly, grief is all around, as her long time friend, Emma, passes away, and a bride seems to have disappeared. Before she went missing, the bride had been to Penny's for her wedding manicure. This is the first of the Penny books, and the mystery had a lot of twists. One, I figured partially out, but as usual, not the why or how. Great new series for me.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series, library-books
This is a new author to me, I like mystery stories so thought I would like to try it out. I thought I might have solved the "who done it", but had to read on to find out why. Set in a small town in Wales. Penny Brannigan knows more about the murder then she things she does. She does the manicures for many of the town ladies and notices details. There is even a little attraction to one special police officer.

An easy read, I will try more by the author.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the characters and the writing! Also the descriptions of the landscape and the overall relaxing atmosphere surrounding the whole town were pure magic. I enjoyed how the author introduced each character and slowly developed the plot. The only minus is that I easily predicted the culprit but there were a few twists I didn't expect and liked.
I'll definitely continue the series since the author's writing style suits my taste.
Lia Marcoux
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Oddly, this was the second mystery I'd read in the last week starring an older female expat living in a small town in Wales, running a personal grooming business, and successfully painting watercolors on the side. I think they both mentioned the same three-arch bridge, too! This one featured less jam.
Nancy Haddock
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I saw this author on my library's Book Sizzle email, and decided to start with the first book rather than the latest. This is not a fast-moving plot, but the story doesn't drag. It simply unfolds and is charming. Lovely Welsh village characters, nice twists in the story, a new friendship, and even a tiny beginning romance possibility. This one is worth the read, and I'm off to find more titles!
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow, gentle read . . .

With wonderful plot twists! It is well written but somewhat on the slow side. My thoughts for the first several chapters were that I would finish the book but not go into the rest of the series. However, that thought began to change as I got further into the book. Now having finished the book, I will be checking out the next book in the series. :-)
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting setting and a sleuth I liked but felt distanced from. I had a bit of trouble maintaining my interest in the book and I'm not sure if it was the writing or me as I've been a somewhat distracted reader lately. The pacing is slow and considered with a lot of the daily-living sorts of details included.

I will probably try the second in the series in the future.
Meg Morden
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this cosy mystery. I have read others in the series and so nice to see where it all began. The description of the town and the landscape makes you want to jump on a plane and go to Wales.
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After graduating from Carleton University, Ottawa, with a BA in English, Elizabeth J. Duncan worked as a writer and editor for some of Canada’s largest newspapers, and as a public relations practitioner.

A two-time winner of the Bloody Words Award for Canada's best light mystery, she is the author of two traditional mystery series, Penny Brannigan set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills

Other books in the series

Penny Brannigan (9 books)
  • A Brush with Death (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #2)
  • A Killer's Christmas in Wales (Penny Brannigan Mystery #3)
  • A Small Hill to Die On (Penny Brannigan, #4)
  • Never Laugh As a Hearse Goes By (Penny Branigan #5)
  • Slated for Death (Penny Brannigan Mystery, #6)
  • Murder on the Hour (Penny Brannigan, #7)
  • Murder Is for Keeps (Penny Brannigan, #8)
  • The Marmalade Murders