Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cold Light of Mourning (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #1)” as Want to Read:
The Cold Light of Mourning (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cold Light of Mourning

(Penny Brannigan #1)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,222 ratings  ·  211 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cold Light of Mourning, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cold Light of Mourning

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,222 ratings  ·  211 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Cold Light of Mourning (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #1)
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: 2013, cozy-mysteries
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.
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
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!!!
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
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.
The Crime Librarian
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mysteries, 2018
I love finding new series that I actually like. This was such a great cozy read! The plot was good with a plausible mystery that I didn’t fully guess until the end was revealed. The main characters were believable and had personalities that really came through in the story. I did think that the introduction of Victoria was a little forced and her fast friendship with Penny was a little awkward and a little implausible. Overall, it was a great book!
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!
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.
Laurel Bradshaw
Started out quite slow and didn't think was going to be more than two stars. It grew on me after the half-way point and I came to want to read more of the various characters. Penny is the main focus, but not the only one - this was a team effort working to solve the murder: Penny the manicurist, her new friend Victoria who was the harpist at her best friend's funeral (no, she wasn't the one murdered), the police detective Gareth (and love interest for Penny), Mrs. Lloyd the town busybody, and th ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just lovely! Slow & deep, this is an absolutely wonderfully-written cozy. Loved the character development (including the maturity & personality depth of the protagonist), the fine narrative details, the mystery, and the plot pacing. Eager to continue on with next installment in this series. ...more
Dec 25, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
To be fair, I didn't get particularly far into this. It might get better. But I read a few chapters, and just wasn't connecting with it, so I cut my losses.
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
This was definitely a quaint, cozy read. However, it fell flat for me. The characters seemed real enough, but I just couldn't connect. I found the main character, Penny Brannigan, to be rather curt sometimes, and almost aloof others. Towards the middle of the novel, a new character gets introduced, Victoria, and her relationship with Penny seems almost to much too quick, and not realistic. I also found their relationship to be, well, weird. Penny would snap at Victoria, who would then become rat ...more
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
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
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was the beginning of a series, and possibly the author's first book, so I was willing to overlook some story pieces that didn't really fit well, and the disjointed way it bounced between character perspectives, but by the end I was just annoyed with it. I wanted to like it very much, I enjoyed some of the relationships and it looks to be headed towards a couple solving crime together. It was also nice to have older woman as the main characters. But I would have preferred we stick with Penny ...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
Liz V.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Llalenel residents, and shop owner Penny in particular, anticipate a busy weekend. First, their retired teacher, and Penny's best friend, has died and the funeral is in the offing. Second, the son of the local squire is due to be married, and Penny is booked for manicures for the bride and bridesmaids. All seems to go well with the wedding preparations, until the bride leaves Penny's shop and vanishes. The police, especially DCI Davies, are impressed by Penny's eye for detail but anxious that Pe ...more
Claudia Cheyne
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book in 2009 when it first came out, but the reappearance of Emyr Gruffydd in the most recent installment of the series prompted me to refresh my memory on the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Emyr's first fiance on their wedding day.
Penny Brannigan is mourning the death of her longtime friend and companion Emma Teasdale. She meets Victoria Hopkirk, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies and Detective Sergeant Bethan Morgan as well as other characters who regularly appear t
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Of Books and Bagpipes (Scottish Bookshop Mystery, #2)
  • The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse (A Cats In Trouble Mystery, #1)
  • A Christmas Gathering
  • Death of a Charming Man (Hamish Macbeth, #10)
  • Twisted Threads (Mainely Needlepoint, #1)
  • A Medal for Murder (Kate Shackleton, #2)
  • Miss Julia Takes Over (Miss Julia, #2)
  • Eat Cake
  • Backstage Murder (Lindy Haggerty, #1)
  • The Black Mountain (Nero Wolfe, #24)
  • The Last Passenger (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #0.3)
  • Miss Julia Hits the Road (Miss Julia, #4)
  • Stork Raving Mad (Meg Langslow, #12)
  • Mission to Murder (A Tourist Trap Mystery, #2)
  • An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford, #2)
  • The Ape Who Guards the Balance (Amelia Peabody, #10)
  • Miss Julia Throws a Wedding (Miss Julia, #3)
  • Scone Cold Dead (Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries, #2)
See similar books…
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 (10 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
  • Remembering the Dead (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #10)

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
6 likes · 2 comments