The 2nd book in a series is often a difficult book for both author and reader. For the author, because he/she has to follow up a success; for the reader, because the author is often trying to hard.I'm delighted to report that in this 2nd book, none of the above is true. The author keeps those delightful characters we were first introduced to, but deepens them and strengthens our understanding of who they are. In addition, we meet Beatrix Potter and come to understand how such a shy young woman could have come to produce all those beloved children's books. AND Bea has a part in investigating and solving this mystery!A police sergeant, Sergeant Arthur Oliver, is dead - shot through the heart. He's discovered by Lawrence, a footman for the Marsdens, and Amelia, a housemaid of Kate Ardleigh's of Bishop's Keep. Sir Charles happens to be back in town, and he carefully photographs the evidence. Edward (Ned) Laken, the police constable for the nearby area that includes the Marsdens and Bishop's Keep, is an old friend of Arthur's and his family; in fact, Arthur beat Ned to the punch in asking Agatha to marry him - a decision that Ned still regrets. Now Agatha and her young daughter, Betsy (Elizabeth) are left without a husband and father, and his pension is in doubt because someone's written a mysterious letter to the constable in charge of the investigation, accusing Arthur Oliver of poaching.Who killed Arthur? Was he a poacher? Why did he have 3 different samples of grain on his person (in his pockets) when he died? Where is his missing lucky gold sovereign with the nick in it? Why did the man-in-charge, Pell, put P.C. Bradley in charge and not Ned?And do the missing Marsden emeralds have anything to do with any of this?-------------I liked the different love triangles that formed in this book. They didn't seem to be contrived, but provided some humor. Just goes to show that when one keeps his or her thoughts and likes to oneself, he or she can cause much speculation and almost lose the person they most admire.Betsy was also a delightful addition - a precocious young girl whose father (the murdered sergeant) taught to be somewhat independent thinking. She keeps her cool when it's most needed, and Betsy has a delightful insight that cuts to the heart of the matter.A rather fun and surprising twist make this a most delightful cozy-mystery!