REVIEW: Casa Largo Mystery by Miranda Barnes
Sam is down on her luck…
Sacked by her boss and betrayed by her boyfriend in the space of a single day, she needs something to ward off her despair. Her mother believes that a job at the Casa Largo guest house is the answer to all her problems. Surrounded by palm trees and orange groves, Casa Largo is a beautiful old farmhouse in the hills of Portugal that caters for tourists who crave a tranquil holiday.
The guest house’s owner, Georgina, is grateful for the support of a fluent English speaker, as she faces pressure on all fronts – especially from her often evasive partner, Simon, who is constantly demanding money. Sam begins to suspect that Simon’s ambiguous behaviour masks something more sinister, and when she learns that some of the Algrave’s residents live under false identities and engage in money laundering, her fears only intensify.
As the mystery deepens, Sam finds herself distracted by Hugo, a young man who was adopted by Georgina many years ago. His relationship with his English girlfriend troubles Sam – but why? Can Sam save her newfound friend and employer from a man who may be trying to rob her of everything she holds dear? And can she get to the bottom of her confused feelings for Hugo? Or will she be down and out at last?
Case Largo Mystery is a wonderfully unique combination of thought provoking mystery and captivating romance.
Dear Ms. Barnes,
Once again, the plot is timely with our heroine having been made redundant at her job – and aren’t there enough people this has happened to? – and forced to job hunt in an increasingly tight economy. After exhausting her interviews possibilities and coming up dry, it’s mum to the rescue with an offhand reference to an old ex-pat friend living in Portugal who needs an English speaking worker to help with her vacation guest cottages. Good thing this is pre-Brexit as it gives Sam employment in the beautiful and sunny Algrave where lemons and oranges actually grow in trees. I love Sam’s buoyant enthusiasm as she discovers the charms of the area and settles in.
It’s soon obvious that Georgina needs all the help she can get. Her son Hugo isn’t around much and her partner Simon seems to appear only to demand money from Georgina. What is going on, Sam wonders. When Sam tries to question Georgina, she gets waved off and politely requested to leave things alone. Pressing Hugo for answers leads nowhere and comments made by some in the British ex-pat community raise more questions than they answer.
Since Sam’s new, she worries. Does she inquire further or let things drop? Sam’s impetus to solve these mysteries makes more sense than in “The House on the Hill.” Since Sam’s continuing in her job might depend on Georgina’s finances and she’s come to see the older woman as a friend, Sam pushes on with her queries and stake outs.
It takes time and finally putting together a few clues to lead Sam to her answers. Along the way she might just be able to help out more people than Georgina and possibly kick-start a romance of her own. In the end, though I would have like a bit more romance, it all makes sense and introduces me to a lovely sounding area of Portugal. B-