Over the course of twenty (almost twenty-one) successful books, Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series has become enormously popular. Now, with the first two mysteries in one volume, Introducing Aunt Dimity, Paranormal Detective makes it easy to get a taste of the ghostly sleuth’s delightful début. In Aunt Dimity’s Death, Aunt Dimity’s American niece, Lori Shepherd, had long thought her mother’s childhood tales of Aunt Dimity were merely comforting bedtime stories. But when a pair of lawyers informs her that her mysterious aunt has just died and made the down-on-her-luck Lori a rich woman, she finds a reason to believe. Aunt Dimity and the Duke finds the benevolent spirit helping Emma Porter, forty, fat, and frumpy,tame a Duke’s overgrown garden and discover romance along the way. These two tales continue to enchant Atherton’s devoted fans and, packaged together, are sure to attract even more new readers to the series.
Bubby: There are a few series that I just took to heart from the moment I opened the first book. The Aunt Dimity series is one of these. This first book in the series, Aunt Dimity’s Death, was named one of the best mysteries of the 20th century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This is for good reason. It starts out as a standard cozy mystery; down on her luck girl gets mysterious letter alluding to some sort of inheritance and off she goes to England to figure it all out. The twist comes in the form of Aunt Dimity herself. She is dead but her spirit lives on as she magically writes to Lori through the pages of a blue leather journal.
Sissy: The promise of intrigue piques one’s interest as we discover clues having to do with WWII, long-lost loves, and the London Zoo. Mata Hari monkeys? Hyenas on a heist?
Bubby: Pretty sure Mata Hari was WWI, Sissy. It seems that our dear Aunt Dimity has left some task undone and Lori must fix the situation so that Dimity’s spirit will be at rest. I really enjoyed the love interest in this book – he is not your typical tall dark and perfect romantic lead – in fact he has several faults.
Sissy: Like being pudgy, bespectacled, and unfashionable? Those are the ones who have money, my dear Bubby. And I sometimes like our dear Bill better than main character Lori.
Bubby: He does seem like a very sweet man, doesn’t he. I think that his father, Mr. Willis Sr., is my favorite character – he starts off as a bit of a curmudgeon but ends up being the father Lori never had.
Sissy: Yes, and it is fun how throughout the series different women in the local village try to entice him romantically. Now, Bubby, would you like to know my pros and cons about this series?
Bubby: I rather think you’ll tell me whether I want you to or not, so go ahead!
Sissy: I Shall start with the cons, so you can rebut. Lori is a bit of a flibbertigibbet. She also ends up with a fairly cushy life, but still complains (“Oh, I’m so flustered with this mystery, I can’t decide what to ask cook to prepare for dinner and I might have to put off my cuticle polishing appointment”). Also, how many murders can one village have? I live in a village-like small town, and the last murder we had was 27 years ago. But having said that, I’ll back pedal a little. Lori learns and grows throughout the series, and I’ve learned and grown quite fond of her. And I can overlook the multitude of murders thing because the story lines and writing are so very enjoyable.
Bubby: Actually, there are NO murders in this first book. And she doesn’t have a cook. Just saying. She does seem a bit entitled in some of the other books (and yes, she does get a nanny eventually), but let’s just focus on this one book, instead of dissing the series as a whole, shall we?
Sissy: Bubby, you try to spoil all my fun! Here are my PROs for this book (and series, neener, neener). These books are solidly good mysteries and the Aunt Dimity ghost angle is a very unique premise. The plots are fun and varied, and I know I’m in for a good read when I pick one up. The setting in a picturesque English village is a plus, and the villagers are idiosyncratic in the usual English villager sort of way. I would love to live amongst them and eat currant buns.
Bubby: Ooh, yes, currant buns. And scones or perhaps crumpets! With clotted cream! Oh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment in my fantasies of English tea time. I do love the characterizations of the villagers – the quiet horsey couple next door, the elderly twins who finish each other’s sentences and the busybody who runs both the town and her husband!
Sissy: As I said, the villagers are very English villager-y, and if you don’t know what that means, dear reader, you clearly need to watch more BBC.
Bubby: It’s a great book and a great series. I adore them all. In fact, below is a full list of the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton (plus there’s Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure, coming in May of 2016!). Try them–you will be knee-deep (waist deep in Sissy’s case) in great reading material for a long time!
1. Aunt Dimity’s Death (1992)
2. Aunt Dimity and the Duke (1994)
3. Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed (1996)
4. Aunt Dimity Digs In (1998)
5. Aunt Dimity’s Christmas (1999)
6. Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil (2000)
7. Aunt Dimity: Detective (2001)
8. Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday (2003)
9. Aunt Dimity: Snowbound (2004)
10. Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin (2005)
11. Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea (2006)
12. Aunt Dimity Goes West (2007)
13. Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter (2008)
*Introducing Aunt Dimity, Paranormal Detective (2009)
14. Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon (2009)
15. Aunt Dimity Down Under (2010)
16. Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree (2011)
17. Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch (2012)
18. Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince (2013)
19. Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well (2014)
20. Aunt Dimity and the Summer King ( 2015)
Click HERE to buy Introducing Aunt Dimity, Paranormal Detective by Nancy Atherton