Book Review: The Nora Tierney Mysteries by Marni Graff

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The Blue Virgin (A Nora Tierney Mystery, #1)
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Despite a planned move, the mysterious death of photographer Bryn Wallace keeps American writer Nora Tierney glued to Oxford in order to clear her close friend, artist Val Rogan, who has been wrongfully accused of Bryn’s murder. Or has she?
 
Nora quickly becomes embroiled in the murder investigation, much to the dismay of two men: Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, the senior on the case; and Simon Ramsey, the illustrator of Nora’s children’s book. Simon’s efforts to save Nora from herself become increasingly frantic as Nora is forced to push her way into Declan’s case, using her wits and her wiles to prove Val’s innocence.
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The first in a series of Nora Tierney mysteries based in the UK, The Blue Virgin is a compelling story of love and intrigue. Nothing, Nora learns, is what it seems, and even the most innocent of choices can lead to murder and revenge. Set in the ancient city of golden spires, the setting lends itself to mystery, as any Inspector Morse fan will agree. The novel is written in classic English style, complete with a cast of characters and chapter epigraphs that add to its literary feel.
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The Green Remains (A Nora Tierney Mystery, #2)

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Nora Tierney is living at Ramsey Lodge in England’s glorious Lake District, anticipating two life-changing events: the publication of her first children’s book and the birth of her first child. Choosing a name for her son and checking proof pages with her illustrator, Simon Ramsey, fill her days–until a morning stroll along the shore of UK’s largest lake, Windermere, leads her to discover the corpse of the heir to Clarendon Hall.

When Simon is implicated in the death, Nora dives headfirst into the murder investigation to discover the real killer. As the body count rises, Nora and her unborn child will face risks and perils she could never anticipate in this second in a series of Nora Tierney mysteries.
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The Scarlet Wench (Nora Tierney Mysteries, #3)
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In the third Nora Tierney Mystery set in England, American writer Nora awaits the arrival of a traveling theatre troupe who will stage Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit at Ramsey Lodge in the Lake District. With her son six months old, Nora must juggle parenting with helping her illustrator and friend Simon Ramsey run the lodge. She’s also hoping to further her relationship with the only lodge guest not in the cast: Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, ostensibly there for a hiking trip. When a series of pranks and accidents escalate to murder during a flood that traps everyone, Nora realizes her child is in jeopardy and determines to help Declan unmask a killer.
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Marni Graff had a successful career as a registered nurse who wrote on the side before writing full time. She has a degree in English Lit and studied Gothic Mystery at Oxford University in England. She also wrote articles for Mystery Review magazine, where she interviewed many of the authors whose work she admired.
Marni is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England. The Blue Virgin introduces Nora, an American writer living in Oxford. The Green Remains and The Scarlet Wench trace Nora’s move to the Lake District where murder follows her.  In process is The Golden Hour, set in Bath, England. Premiering in the next few months will be Graff’s new Manhattan series, Death Unscripted, featuring nurse Trudy Genova, a medical consultant for a New York movie studio. This new series is based on Marni’s favorite nursing job in real life.
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Marni is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes crime book reviews at Auntie M Writes and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, an author’s cooperative. A member of Sisters in Crime, Marni runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven which allows writers experience reading their work out loud and getting immediate feedback. 
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I received a free copy of all 3 audiobooks for an honest review.
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If you enjoy a good old British whodunnit, you’ll like the Nora Tierney books. Nora is an American children’s author who is living in England and it seems that no matter where she is, there’s a murder that needs to be solved.
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In the first book, The Blue Virgin, Nora is pregnant and planning to move in with some friends who own the Ramsey Lodge in the Lake District. When her good friend, Val, is suspected of murdering her partner, Bryn, Nora decides to stay in her old place in Oxford a bit longer than she planned. She doesn’t feel that the detectives are doing a good enough job and she’s determined to investigate the murder herself, much to the chagrin of Detective Declan Barnes. Although she and Declan are at odds, they feel a mutual attraction that neither acts on. There were several suspects but I had figured out the murdered well before they were revealed. Although predictable, it was still a good read.
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The Green Remains was also predictable when it came to who the murderer was. Nora is still pregnant and living with her friends, the Ramseys, when another murder occurs. Simon Ramsey, who wants to be more than friends, is a suspect and Nora is determined to find the true murderer. There are many characters that are well described and Nora’s character is well developed. Although the murderer was predictable, there were a couple of twists.
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The Scarlet Wench begins 6 months after the end of The Green Remains. Nora is now a single mother of a 6 month old boy, Sean. Declan Barnes reappears in this book when he decides to vacation at the Ramsey Lodge and get to know Nora better. This time, there are pranks and accidents and, eventually, a murder. Again, Nora feels compelled to solve the murder.  There are many characters since there are actors staying at the Ramsey Lodge. Marni Graff does a good job at describing them. I enjoy a good murder mystery but I think I enjoyed the developing relationships and character interactions in this book even more than the mystery.
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When I first started listening to The Blue Virgin, it was difficult for me to listen to Nano Nagle, the narrator. I’m not positive why, it could have been her accent, but I got used to it after a few chapters. She did a good job at the different characters’ voices. By the time I got to The Scarlet Wench, it was like listening to an old friend.

 

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