Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Brush with Death (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #2)” as Want to Read:
A Brush with Death (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Brush with Death (Penny Brannigan #2)

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  580 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews

When Penny Brannigan inherits a charming, old-fashioned cottage in the North Wales town of Llanelen, she soon realizes she has come into more than what real estate agents like to describe as a desirable period property: She’s also acquired memories, mystery, and an unsolved, decades-old crime.


As Penny sorts through the belongings of her benefactor, a decea

ebook, 272 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published July 14th 2010)
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 A Brush with Death, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Brush with Death

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
❂ Jennifer
This book was ok. I didn't much like the relationship between the protagonist and her "best friend", Victoria. I thought this relationship was too accelerated in the first book and in this one, I found it annoying, stilted, and a bit herky-jerky. I'm not against reading a third one, if released, but I'm not going to rush out to get it on publication.
A Brush with Death is the second in the Penny Brannigan series set in Wales. This book picks up right where the first one left off. Penny is living in the cottage she inherited from her close friend, Emma. She stumbles upon a mystery from Emma’s past and feels compelled to follow it to the end. I quite enjoyed the first in this series, however this one fell somewhat flat for me.

The positives are the character descriptions and the setting. Well executed to the point that the reader can “see” the
Val Sanford
Dulwhitted dialogue kept this book from humming along. With an interesting and intriguing plot line that never quite got of the ground, Penny and her band of villagers bumble about and find amazing clues for an event that occurred 30 years or more ago. Penny uncovers secrets about her friend Emma and then tells the world; so out of character for this proper Welch woman. This book peters out at the end and was so anticlimactic, I initially thought my copy had the final pages missing. I wanted to ...more
Jul 11, 2010 Min rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This book felt a little flat to me, unlike The Cold Light of Mourning, which was quite wonderful. I liked the personal developments for the various characters, but the mystery itself seemed not that mysterious. Still, I liked the story well enough. I will likely read the next one, when it comes out.
Feb 01, 2014 Nora-adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozies
I love this series and how Penny is sort of the Cold Case queen of the village.
May 19, 2017 Nese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second in the series, A Brush with Death is about Penny’s relationship with DCI Gareth Davies and her business partner, Victoria Kirkwood, Penny’s moving in her new cottage left to her by her deceased best friend, and feeling responsible for finding the killer of a promising artist, who had happened to be the lover of Penny’s deceased best friend. I enjoyed mostly reading about the developing relationships and didn’t care for the murder mystery, especially about the cliffhanger at the end. B ...more
Clara  Baker Baldwin
Enjoyed this second of the series. Penny and her friends and neighbors have a nice relationship that comes across in the book.
The subject of this book would certainly have been controversial then, but I'm glad that was not the cause of death. (Had to rewrite this part when I realized it might be a spoiler!)
On to A Killer's Christmas in Wales! And in looking up the title, I see another series by the author!
Mary K.
I read the books out of order but having read #1, then #2, this one, I am really enjoying a new author, a new setting, and a new cast of characters from a charming Welsh town. So now I know, when reading a series, order does matter.
Jun 06, 2017 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as the 1st one but am still enjoyed the cozy Welsh village & countryside.
Jenn Estepp
Nice, solid little cozy. The mystery seemed a wee bit random and unlikely and some of the relationships felt really uneven, and yet I still feel very fond of it. Why is that? I dunno. There's just something that I find rather charming about the whole set-up. And also, it makes me want to go get a manicure.
Jun 06, 2014 Fictionophile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
When we are jealous our feeling of self-worth is low. Some would wish that others fail so that they might be deemed greater. Some might wish that the genius not only fail, but that they are removed from the picture altogether…

Set in an idyllic Welsh village, this second installment in the Penny Brannigan mystery series is the perfect cozy for a crisp fall evening. We first met Penny in The Cold Light of Mourning which won the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Competition.

Penny is a pain
A Brush With Death is as engaging as the first book in the Penny Brannigan series(The Cold Light of Mourning). Its the perfect cozy mystery to lose yourself in.

Apart from the whole mystery angle, there is depth to the novel too. The author has dealt with certain relevant social issues. Underneath the cloak of respectability, lie so many secrets - the author has captured that so well.The characters are very realistic Moreover the book captures the social changes that the world has undergone in th
Nov 17, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-cozy
Not quite a “cozy” mystery, but also not quite the complex, thoughtful and substantive mystery I grew up to know and love. Those types of mysteries seem to be in very, very short supply these days – or maybe, I’m just not looking in the right places.

This is a “cozy” in the sense that the heroine is sticking her nose into an old murder and neglecting her business, friends and prospective lover in the process. In a way, her concentration and focus is something to be admired. However, she is not a
Oct 06, 2016 Rw rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler alert!
I like cozy mysteries, but this one had too many gaping plot holes and threads that went no where, like who dumped the dog, vandalized the animals, nearly ran Penney over etc.
The book said that Emma, not Alys was being followed. who followed her, and why is never explained. (unless it was a musprint, and they followed Alys).
additionally, if they were so discreet & rarely met at Emma's home, how did the killers know just when and where to find Alys? especially in the dark, befor
Aug 22, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#2 in the Penny Brannigan series. Penny has a nail salon, which would hardly qualify her as an amateur detective, BUT, not unusually for a 'cozy', she has a romantic interest in a detective inspecter (see #1 The Cold LIght of Mourning (2009)). When Penny gets interested in a cold case from 1970 with anti-lesbian overtones, you can bet she will persevere.

Penny Brannigan has inherited a cottage from her late schoolteacher friend, Emma Teasdale. When Penny and Det. Insp. Gareth Davies discover a st
Jul 29, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-wales
Artist-manicurist Penny Brannigan is cleaning out the Welsh cottage she inherited from her elderly friend, Emma. One of the paintings on the wall is by an artist unknown to Penny--A. Jones. As Penny finds out more about the artist's relationship to Emma, she also finds that the painter was the victim of a hit-and-run accident many years ago. Enlisting all her friends, from the vicar and his efficient wife to the gossipy retired postmistress, Penny tries to find out more information about the acc ...more
Sep 04, 2010 Kathleen rated it liked it
This mystery surprised me with its basis in Liverpool’s art world in the late 1960’s (many references to John Lennon’s early art training, residence etc.), a lesbian relationship that had to be kept secret from a disapproving world, and a murder mystery that snaked its way to unexpected revelations. Set in a small tone in Wales, the characters come together to lend their hand to solving this 30+ year murder mystery. I thought their willing collaboration was a bit of a leap, but their courage to ...more
Kathy Moberg
I really liked the first book in this series, The Cold Light of Mourning. This second one, however, was a disappointment. The characters are not nearly as interesting and well drawn. Some of the exchanges between them are wooden or silly, and there were paragraphs here and there that struck me as filler material. The mystery itself was good enough that I had to finish the book, because I did want to find out what happened, so that is a plus. I skimmed as fast as I could from the middle to the en ...more
This was the second in the Penny Brannigan series. I am thoroughly enjoying these books. The characters are engaging and the mysteries are interesting. The setting is also a plus. In this book Penny is cleaning out, her friend Emma's cottage which Penny inherited. While cleaning out she learns of a hit and run accident, killing a local artist and friend of Emma's. The death is suspicious and Penny decides to investigate. She begins to uncover a number of mysteries related to this accident and th ...more
Jeanne Quigley
Sep 30, 2013 Jeanne Quigley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this second book in Elizabeth Duncan's Penny Brannigan series. The mystery involves a long ago hit-and-run death that Penny believes wasn't an accident. With the help of friends, Penny learns the murder might be tied to art theft. I like this quiet series set in Wales. Penny is a gentle, quiet woman, not prone to fits of hysteria or dramatics. Elizabeth Duncan does a fine job portraying Penny's determination to solve a case that affected a beloved friend, as well as showing the sorrow ...more
Jan 02, 2013 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I mostly liked this book, and still quite like the author. However, I was uncomfortable with the focus on ethnic differences in this book. Some of the discussion was important to the story and probably realistic given the small, homogeneous town setting. But some of the comments, especially by Penny herself (who, as a Canadian should have more experience with people of different backgrounds) was a bit disconcerting and off putting, and made me wonder about the writer herself. I'll give her anoth ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Amelia-Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second bookk in the Penny Brannigan series.

Penny has moved into the house that her friend left her. In cleaning the years of accumulation that her friend had left and a many year old murder that was never solved. In learning more about the murdered woman and more about her friend, she comes to realize that sometimes you never know as much as you wish you knew about them to start with, Penny wants to solve this not just for her friend, but for the murdered woman's family. This has int
Linda Smatzny
Feb 12, 2015 Linda Smatzny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in the Penny Brannigan Mystery series. The series is set in Wales in the present time and features Penny and her friends who help her solve mysteries. This time Penny has just moved into a cottage she inherited and learns that former owner had lost her special friend over thirty years ago in a hit and run accident. Naturally Penny wants to solve the case. At the same Penny and her business partner and friend, Victoria, have bought an old building and plan on converting it ...more
Oct 23, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Penny Brannigan has inherited a small cottage in the northern part of Wales. She is making the place her own when she finds a packet of letters that reveals a mystery involving the woman who owned the cottage before her. A young artist was killed in a hit and run accident over thirty years ago and Penny feels that she must solve the mystery to put the memories that the cottage has to rest. It is an interesting read and I enjoyed it. Penny is a warm character and her relationship with the police ...more
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
I really enjoyed this well-crafted murder mystery. Penny Branningan is a likable sleuth in the old tradition. Her friends/relationships are at the pace you would find in a 'Christie' styled novel. Since it is set in Wales this isn't surprising.

The book dealt with murder/ social mores and human weaknesses. It was realistic. Also, the author is blending the 21st century into the somewhat time-capsuled 20th century of the village. That is very interesting and well done.

I hope this series lasts a lo
This is the second book in the Penny Brannigan Mystery series. The choice of crime victims and circumstances has been interesting in both books of the series. Something about the writing doesn't click or it may be that the reader has a gut feeling about the perpetrator early on, but the story meanders to other village events and then gets a clue to lengthen the story.
I'm off to read next book in series for a Bookclub, maybe I'll 'solve' my concerns in the next book :)
Mystereity Reviews
Cute, but again, too much detail in some places while not enough detail in some of the important places. But still very enjoyable.

(view spoiler)
Oct 27, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Continuing on the cozy mystery trip...Elizabeth Duncan returns to the North Wales town of Llanelen in this second book with manicurist/detective Penny Brannigan. This time, Penny investigates a thirty-year-old cold case involving art fraud and a hit-and-run. I truly did enjoy these books more for reading them in order and think I may go back and reread the third book and see if I like it better now. Currently though, so many books, so little time!
Sep 13, 2016 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 28, 2011 Lora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spa owner Penny Brannigan has just moved into the cottage that she inherited from her friend, Emma. While going through Emma's possessions, Penny discovers that Emma had been in love with a woman named Alys Jones, who was a promising painter. Alys died in a hit-and-run near Emma's home forty years ago. With the police's blessing, Penny and her friends work together to find out if Alys' death was an accident or murder.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dolly Departed (Gretchen Birch, #3)
  • French Polished Murder (A Daring Finds Mystery, #2)
  • Evan and Elle  (Constable Evans, #4)
  • When Last I Died (Mrs. Bradley, #13)
  • Hades (Andrews, Russell)
  • Super
  • 'Til Dice Do Us Part (Bunco Babes Mystery, #2)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil: And Other New Tales Featuring the World's Greatest Detective (Sherlock Holmes, #4)
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Illustrated Novels
  • Norway to Hide (Passport to Peril, #6)
  • The Bone Fire (Gil Montoya Mystery #2)
  • Death to the Landlords (Felse, #11)
  • Death On The Diagonal (Crossword Mysteries, #12)
  • The Information Officer
  • Invitation to Murder (A Card Making Mystery, #1)
  • The Frightened Man (Denton, #1)
  • The Marx Sisters (Brock & Kolla, #1)
  • The Bone Chamber (Sydney Fitzpatrick #2)
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, including the Ottawa Citizen and Hamilton Spectator.

The author of two traditional mystery series, Penny Brannigan set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer Charlotte Fairfax,
Elizabeth divides her ti
More about Elizabeth J. Duncan...

Other Books in the Series

Penny Brannigan (8 books)
  • The Cold Light of Mourning (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #1)
  • 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)

Share This Book