A Death in the Valley by John Gruffydd

28355211Told from the perspective of Gareth, an honest loyal retired solicitor, this is a mystery in the best tradition with twists and turns that keep you turning pages until the end. John Gruffydd takes you with Gareth, asking; is anyone as they first seem? Who can he trust? Can he trust his own instincts? Showing great understanding of police and legal processes, Gruffydd also shows such insight into human nature that you will start to look into your own heart to question, if it were me, what would I do?

I have to be honest when I say I normally don’t pick up crime genre as my first choice. I won this book through a blog giveaway a loooong time ago that was hosted by Amanda at ChocolatePages. Thank you Amanda and my apologies to the author for taking my sweet time to read and review this book. I was the loser in this case because the book was absolutely brilliant!

Gareth, our main character is a retired solicitor who has moved to Spain with his wife Sue. When he was still working, he lived in a small town in Wales and was partnering the local ‘law firm’ with Lenny. After being retired and enjoying the life in Spain for a year Gareth returns to Wales in the winter to visit his son and grandson. Lenny however requests a meeting with Gareth and things kick off as Lenny asks Gareth to become involved in a recently re-opened case Gareth was originally involved in.

So many characters, two different cases (a post office robbery, trust fund money going missing) and a local tragedy that took place 20 years ago which still haunts some of the villagers. All these events tie in together as we’re dealing with a small and close knit community. Enter a hotshot, young lawyer from London, some cheeky small town coppers, Italian mafia and you got yourself a story.

To be honest, it has been a long time since I felt I was reading a story that was truly cosy. I’m not categorizing the book into a cosy mystery per se, but rather physically I was a sofaspud, wrapped in a blanket and reading a novel that truly pulled me in. I got invested in the characters and what was going to happen to them.

You see, not only do we have lots of information about characters, happenings (past and present), police and legal procedures with this book, but it’s the fact what makes this read truly great- it was the language and style the story is delivered with as it was balanced with seriousness, humor and at times heartache. After all, when you have a rural community, oldschool cops trying to pull one over on the solicitors and quite a few ‘public secrets’ you will get a front row seat to what feels like a family Christmas where the cupboard doors fail and the skeletons fall out!

Going back to the characters- I really got to know each and every one of them. Not by pages upon pages of info dumps on their appearances but through personal and at times intimate stories. There were laugh-out-loud moments in this book and moments when I could feel the pain. A masterclass of “show, not tell” if you ask me. I am shocked there aren’t more reviews for this book, say, on Goodreads.

Overall, the whole novel left me feeling like it wasn’t fictional at all! I felt as if I was in Wales, with those people and it all really, truly happened. The human aspect for each character was so realistic that I think they are going to stay with me for a very very long time.

If you are a fan of crime, I warmly recommend this book to you. I was not able to put this book down at all and I read 90% of it in one sitting last night. For that reason, for John introducing me to a wonderful and a really colorful cast, for keeping me guessing until the very end and for injecting some surprising twists into the story I shall rate this book 5*****. The writing was brilliant, the plot was great and the look into human nature was very well delivered!


  1. You’re not the only one who has won a book and hasn’t gotten around to actually reading it yet ;). Well, until now for you that is! *doing the walk of shame all by myself*.

    Hahaha @ sofaspud!! I’d never heard that one before, brilliant XD. Excellent review! This sounds like a hell of a read! I was actually wondering why you and I aren’t reading more crime/mysteries after feeling so much love for Frank. Obviously, that one’s a multi-genred feast of yum, but still, the mystery aspect was something that really appealed to me! And to you as well me thinks :D. Plot twist and trying to solve the puzzle. So yes, here’s to some more crime mysteries! :3 And this one is cheap as chip as well you say?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah! Ill never say No to a walk, even if it is one of shame, or someone else’s shame so I shall accompany you my fair lady! To the hills, ahoy! πŸ˜€

      sofaspud… yeah, I figured couch potato didn’t sound as cool. couch potato sounds clinical and very not cosy so sofaspud it was! πŸ˜€

      Thanks Anne, yes, I found the stories around each character so entertaining and at times there was quite a lot of food for thought- relationships, people’s attitudes and behavior patterns. And all of that in addition to the crimey/mystery plot. I was surprised at how well it was delivered.

      Aye, I agree… I think what has kept me back from more crime/mystery is the fear of repeating plots and not a lot of originality but as I see, I can be proved wrong! So must definitely try some more in that genre, you’re right! πŸ™‚

      Yeah, on Amazon UK the ebook was like Β£1.52 or something like that? Not bad, I think πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yay! Walking up and down the hill togeeeeeether! *plays merry tune on my air-flute*. Sofaspud sounds just awesome :’). And that sounds brilliant, character development is so important! Hmm, hmm, repetitiveness kills the monkey, or something :D. But there definitely has to be more to it if you look at some of the bloggers who are eating this shit up on a weekly basis! πŸ˜€ Not bad at all! Oh, yesterday, I found out that Ireland uses euros! I did NOT know that!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great minds think alike! I also won this book thanks to Amanda and I decided today that it would be my weekend read! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed it. Such a brilliant review can only confirm my choice πŸ™‚ This sounds so good, why have we waited so long???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah cool πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did…The beginning can be a bit slow going (1-2 chapters) but once it picks off it’s great πŸ™‚ fingers crossed you’ll enjoy it πŸ™‚


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