Review: Death or Ice Cream by Gareth P. Jones


Larkin Mills: The Birthplace of Death!

Larkin Mills is no ordinary town. It’s a place of contradictions and enigma, of secrets and mysteries. A place with an exquisite ice cream parlour, and an awful lot of death.

An extraordinary mystery in Larkin Mills is beginning to take shape. First we meet the apparently healthy Albert Dance, although he’s always been called a sickly child, and he’s been booked into Larkin Mills’ Hospital for Specially Ill Children. Then there’s his neighbour Ivor, who observes strange goings-on, and begins his own investigations into why his uncle disappeared all those years ago. Next we meet Young Olive, who is given a battered accordion by her father, and unwittingly strikes a dreadful deal with an instrument repair man.

Make sure you keep an eye on Mr Morricone, the town ice-cream seller, who has queues snaking around the block for his legendary ice cream flavours Summer Fruits Suicide and The Christmas Massacre. And Mr Milkwell, the undertaker, who has some very dodgy secrets locked up in his hearse. Because if you can piece together what all these strange folks have to do with one another . . . well, you’ll have begun to unlock the dark secrets that keep the little world of Larkin Mills spinning . . .


I was sent a copy of this book to review from the publisher upon request.  I was completely hooked by the gorgeous cover art, by Adam Stower, and the title: Death or Ice Cream?  It’s such a deliciously bizarre question that made me desperate to know the answer.

Death or Ice Cream isn’t your average tale of mischief and mayhem.  Told as a series of interconnecting short stories, we roam around the town of Larkin Mills and meet some of it’s residents; old and new.  Larkin Mills is a very strange place with even stranger people living in it.  However; among the oddities, there are some very big hearts and valuable messages about family, hope and strength.

I fell in love with this book’s way of story-telling and it made little nods to the previous chapter/tales as each new story and character was introduced.  The nuttiness of this whole world reminded me of things like The Mighty Boosh or Monty Python but there was never a sense of this being a book for laughs; it’s all taken seriously and with a bit of a Tim Burton twist to it all.  It’s mad but it all kinda makes sense in Larkin Mills.  I can’t really comment on any of the individual stories because they would give away little pieces about the others that come before and after but, trust me, they are all rather delightful.

This book for be perfect readers that like their tales with the touch of strange to them but also for more reluctant readers that like to dip in and out of a book and not feel like they’re having to play catch up from the last chapter.

A mad-capped adventure for those that like a pinch of the peculiar.  Not for everybody’s tastes but it definitely ticked the boxes for me.

Published by Hot Key Books and is available online and in bookshops now


  1. Jo Franklin

    Thanks for this review. This book certainly sounds intriguing. I wonder where the inspiration for this town came from? Gareth P Jones lives near me and we do have a lot of ice cream vans doing the rounds at the weekend …

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