Connie Berry's A Dream of Death
Looking for an absorbing read while cuddled under a blanket with a cup of tea during these dark winter nights? A Dream of Death is for you!
Kate travels to Scotland, Isle of Glenroth, after being called by Elinor, her sister-in-law, for urgent help. Kate hasn’t been in Scotland since her husband’s untimely death 3 years before in a freak boating accident. Memories flood back, but Kate is not allowed a moment of rest before Elinor is found murdered. Practically the entire island becomes suspect. The cast of island eccentrics create a difficulty in solving the murder as so many have a motive to dislike Elinor.
Woven into this mystery is Kate’s personal journey recovering from her husband’s death, her difficult re-entry into society, and the unexpected kindling of romantic possibilities. I asked Connie how individuals recover when a loved one dies. She said, “Dealing with the loss of a loved one is… harder when there were unresolved emotions or regrets involved. I’m not sure anyone actually recovers from the loss of a loved one. You just find a way forward.”
A parallel case emerges when letters and documents from an unsolved murder of 200 years ago bring into question the truth about a marriage from that era. This counterpart was always part of the original idea for the novel. Kate investigates whether the current murder a copycat. Connie told me an intriguing part of writing was to fit these two murders together and find a single solution to both.
This parallel plot also brings a contextual history to Scotland and to the life of the Clans before and after Culloden. Of course, Bonnie Prince Charlie makes an appearance!
Author Connie Berry was raised by antique dealers; she is well-prepared to develop her character Kate as an expert antique dealer. Antiques are clues in solving the murders, as well as bringing fascinating details from the island’s history.
She told me, “In my novels, antiques are important both as a setting and as a plot device. Mostly, though, they represent history—the past—and its long tails that affect lives today. Objects from the past are almost like time travelers. Like people, they have a story to tell and sometimes secrets to keep. That interests me and reflects the mystery.”
While unpleasant characters are hard to cope with in real life, they are fascinating additions to a novel. And Connie expertly develops each one, complicating the list of suspects for Elinor’s murder. As Kate works to solve the case, she finds the police are not so keen on her efforts.
The setting of Scotland is integral to the novel. A popular setting after the renown of the Outlander series, written and on film, Connie’s Kate Hamilton Mystery Series brings in Scotland of our modern day and the years immediately past Culloden, and the forcible breakup of the Highland clans. Connie’s grandparents were Scottish and she has visited many times, including around the area this novel is situated in the Highlands, by the Hebrides, and the western coast of Scotland.
I can’t wait to read the next in this series and find out what happens to Kate Hamilton! There are a few clues at the end of A Dream of Death—but no spoilers here! I do have one request for Connie. Kate’s mother makes occasional and brief appearances in the novel. She is such an appealing character and I would love to see her play a bigger role in a future novel!
Elinor ran Glenroth House Hotel and there’s lots of delicious food included in the plot and therefore it was hard to narrow the recipe down! A delicious Seed Cake was served at the hotel and I imagined my Lavender Poppy Seed Cake for tea, served on an elegant dish and teacup. You might enjoy the cake for an afternoon tea as well, reading A Dream of Death while you sip your favorite tea.