I was so excited to read this because it featured two intrepid yet eccentric women solving mysteries in Whitby! What’s not to like? This was the book I chose to take with me on my most recent jaunt to Paris, the city of Grand Marnier crêpes, but I must confess that it took me a good couple of pages to really get into it. Never the Bride by Paul Magrs is a pretty light read but with dark themes as befits a gothic mystery. At one point I thought it might be just too easy. But as I read along, Magrs kept surprising me with what he kept throwing into the plot. One after another, all the gothicky things I love cropped up in unusual circumstances and combinations and by the end, I just fell in love with the whole concept of the book.

Brenda runs a clean and proper B&B in the seaside town of Whitby next to her friend Effie’s shop of curios (those in the know will be aware of the importance of this town in gothic lore*). But Brenda is hiding something and no one can truly run away from their past. Mix in a suspicious beauty spa where clients actually do get younger, some extremely proper and jolly guests at the B&B, the Christmas Hotel where it’s always Christmas and a handsome stranger who puts Effie under a love spell and who knows what will happen.

This book was a lot of fun, especially if you like gothicky mysteries with a large dose of humour. I couldn’t stop laughing once I understood Magrs’ choice of title. I love the character of Brenda with her world-weary yet naïve outlook on life, her mysterious past and her kindness. And her friendship with Effie is priceless.

I read this as part of the Thriller and Suspense Challenge 2010.

*Hint: Bram Stoker’s famous novel beginning with D!