As a lover of cozy mysteries, true crime, and Lifetime original movies, I like to think that I pay attention to my surroundings (my family may disagree…). Whenever I’m reading or watching something where someone is trying to solve a murder (or a new person comes to a mysterious town), I frequently find myself mumbling, ‘Don’t do that! That’s not going to end well…’ Imagine my curiousity when I found Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village written by Maureen Johnson and illustrated by Jay Cooper. This is a guidebook full of dark and sarcastic humor all about how to avoid a gruesome death in innocent-looking bucolic English villages, or ‘English Murder Villages’ as the book calls them.
First off, let’s talk about the illustrations. They are absolute perfection, an Edward Gorey-esque set of drawings with only red pops of color to draw your eye to elements of death and murder. Without these illustrations, the book wouldn’t be complete. The illustrations and text perfectly compliment each other.
This book is written from the perspective of an author who wants to warn people of the dangers of visiting English Murder Villages. She wants you to not stray from the big towns as venturing off the beaten path will lead to your inevitable and premature death. As a way to help you survive, she has compiled lists of people and locations to be careful of in the village and the manor. There’s really no safe space, but forewarned is forearmed. This book is full of nods to classic British crime tropes, which I adored. If you have seen/read any Miss Marple, Murder She Wrote, Agatha Christie, or watched/read any cozy mysteries, you may enjoy this death-laden trip through the English countryside (and may pick up some handy tricks to stay alive along the way)!