Red House by Joss Stirling

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Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter for this free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

            This is book 3 in the Jess Bridges Mysteries, and here it is Christmas time in Jolly Old England. Set in Oxford, Jess is a temp worker who is right smack in the middle of the BBC Christmas TV special and, despite the “drama” involved with this production, it is quickly overshadowed by the fact that a body has been discovered in a wealthy neighborhood garden. This brings DI Leo George into the scene as he is in charge of the investigation and quickly discovers that the body appears to have been buried for at least 13 months or longer.

            Living in the neighborhood is Jess Bridges, who in addition to holding down the temp job at Oxford, also is a missing persons investigator, and in addition to house sitting at what is referred to as the “Red House” due to the brick color. Jess and Leo apparently almost had a date in a prior book but romance never materialized, but in this book that is about to change.

            The body was found at the house owned by Russian Oligarch, Anatoly Chernov, and Jess is house sitting in an even larger house owned by a Uzbek diamond Oligarch who she has not heard from for months.

            Neither oligarch has lived in their respective houses for months, nor has any of their extended families and so Jess and Leo team up to try and figure out who is in the garden, and solve the crime. Along the way we are introduced to the nosey and combative neighborhood association who are trying to keep the Oxford area from degenerating into rather non-traditional uses – someone wanted to install a pool, another wanted to turn the mansion into student housing units. While it sounds a bit confusing, it goes to show how protective so many people are of their neighborhoods and what lengths people will go to protect them.

            While this is a Jess Bridges mystery, she really does not have a lot to do with solving this crime. The plot is good, the characters are interesting, but I was able to easily figure out the murderer as one by one every possible suspect just did not fit for the murder. I have not read the first two books, but there is enough here for me to want to give Book 4 a chance. The author seems to have graduated from the Young Adult/Fantasy genre, and there really is a lot to like in these Jess Bridges Mysteries.

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