Title: A Man of Some Repute (A Very English Mystery 1)
Author: Elizabeth Edmondson
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 2015
After being wounded on a secret mission for Queen and country, intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth is assigned to the sleepy town of Selchester in 1953. Because of the limited lodging options, Hugo and his sister Georgia take rooms at the Castle. Selchester Castle sits quiet and almost empty since the mysterious disappearance of Lord Selchester six years prior; Lord Selchester went out during a storm and was never seen again. Selchester’s daughter Sonia waits anxiously for the allotted time to pass so she can have the Earl declared dead and she sell her inheritance. Selchester’s niece Freya lives in the castle with the housekeeper Mrs. Partridge; Freya is writing the family memoirs and doing research in the castle’s vast library.
While ripping up the flagstone to repair a leak in the Old Chapel, a skeleton is discovered. The identity is quickly determined to be Lord Selchester and a convenient suspect is produced: the police are quick to close the case. Hugo however isn’t convinced; there was and is a lot more going on at Selchester Castle than meets the eye. Joined by Freya, a spirited though reluctant assistant, and Georgia, a precocious yet observant teenager, Hugo delves into the Earl and the castle’s ties to the past, the Earl’s involvement in the war, and the castle’s current role in the intrigues of the Cold War era.
The title of this series is “A Very English Mystery” and it is perfectly apropos! There is a taste of Agatha Christie and a little PJ James combined with any good BBC period drama. It is engaging and enlightening rather than exciting and exhilarating . . . wow, some alliteration there! It was delightful! It did start out a little slow, but that wasn’t due to the storytelling or plot, rather because the action moves slowly and the reader truly felt to be part of this sleepy, quiet, small English village.
I really liked the character of Hugo. Due to an accident while on assignment, he was injured. The reader feels his struggle to adapt to moving slower and living a quieter life; however, as events start to unfold, instead of allowing his injury to interfere with his investigation, he lets his mind and intellect create the excitement. Freya is a likable character, although it feels like there is much more to her story. I am anxious to see her reappearance in future novels and watch her past unfold. Georgia is a unique addition; with Hugo and Georgia’s parents deceased, Hugo must take on a parenting role. There is empathy for his mistakes and an appreciation for Georgia’s blend of naivety and maturity.
Who might like this book:
If you like classic British mysteries then this book is for you. I liked how the author didn’t push the action but still told a very engaging story. There are some flashbacks and it is fascinating to see the contrast between the different time periods. The second Hugo Hawksworth story A Question of Inheritance is set for release October 27, 2015 and I am very much looking forward to it.