Tag Archives: Murder

Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell

Title:  Murder at the Brightwell (Amory Ames 1)
Author:  Ashley Weaver
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  2014
ISBN:  978-1-250-07462-1

Book Summary:
England, 1932.  World War I is over and England is enjoying prosperity and a new age.  Amory Ames has been married to Milo for five years; although very charming and handsome, Milo shows little contentment at staying home with his wife.  He prefers traveling around the continent with, as he states, “more money than he could ever spend.”

When Gil Trent, Amory’s friend and ex-fiancé asks for help, she accepts an invitation to Brightwell as a welcome change.  Gil wants Amory to attend under the pretext that she is leaving her husband for him; a charade that Amory isn’t completely comfortable with.  Gil is concerned because his beloved sister Emmeline is engaged to Rupert Howe, a notorious playboy and gambler.  Gil hopes that if Emmeline sees how Amory is trying to leave a similar marriage, that she might reconsider the proposal.  Fellow guests at the resort include the Rodgers, a paradoxical couple of a solemn solicitor and a vibrant platinum blonde; the Hamiltons, a nasty critical husband and a shy unassuming wife; and Lionel Blake, a rising star of the British stage.

When Milo unexpectedly returns from Monte Carlo prior to her departure, Amory is confused but chooses to help Gil anyway.  The first evening at Brightwell is filled with dining and dancing and sly looks and whispered exchanges.  Gil and Amory plan to meet Rupert and Emmeline for tea the next day, but when they arrive, they discover Emmeline perplexed as Rupert is nowhere to be found.  Looking over the stone balcony, Amory is shocked to discover his body lying on the ground.  Inspector Jones arrives and, contrary to what is suspected, rules that Rupert was murdered.

Amory quickly becomes embroiled in the investigation when Gil’s dislike of Rupert becomes known and he rises to the position of top suspect.   It seems however that many of the guests had encounters with and dislikes of Rupert and the facts become muddied.  To complicate matters even more, Milo shows up at the resort.  Amory struggles with juggling between her friendship with Gil and her marriage to Milo.  Who does she trust, and just as important, who does she love?  As more accidents occur, Amory realizes that the culprit must be discovered quickly before she also becomes a victim.

Book Commentary:
What a completely delightful story!!  Set in the posh elegance of polite society, Amory is a woman caught in a marriage and life that seems to have no purpose.  Although obviously still in love with her husband, she feels as though she were ambling with no purpose.  She is a smart and clever heroine but also quite staid and reserved.  This contrast, coupled with carefully guarded emotions, creates a sense of mystery about her; however this mystery is only perceived by herself.  Told from the first person perspective, Amory reveals her fears and loneliness but doesn’t ever wallow in self-pity.

Milo, however, is the true mystery character and the author does a fabulous job at making the reader question who he is and what is his purpose.  The author does not reveal all and I look forward to his appearance in future stories.

I also loved the descriptions of this obviously elite resort; the details about the clothing, décor, and cuisine help to create the high-society feel of the setting and draws the reader into the story.

Who might like this book:
You know I love a good English mystery and this one definitely fits the bill.  Amory is a very likeable character and the time between the World Wars provides fodder for a great story. Unlike others I have read set during this time period, there is no international intrigue but rather a focus on the lifestyles and recreations of the very wealthy.

I was thrilled when I started to write this review to discover that the book was published in 2014.  A second book Death Wears a Mask is also out and a third book A Most Novel Revenge is set for publication in October of 2016.

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Cover Shot

Cover Shot

Title:  Cover Shot (Headlines in High Heels 5)
Author:  LynDee Walker
Publisher:  Henery Press
Publication Date:  2015
ISBN:  978-1943390212

Book Summary:
When you are in the newspaper business, slow crime activity makes for dull reading, but reporter Nichelle Clarke’s wish for some excitement comes with bang.  The murder of a wealthy and well-renowned doctor should be front page news, but the police are dragging their feet with official identification of the victim. Nichelle uses her charms and wiles to discover not only the doctor’s identity, but also that he was heavily involved in cancer research and drug trials.  For further complicate matters, all this prior associates had nothing but complimentary things to say about the man who left public practice to work on private inquiries.  Nichelle’s primary police contact Aaron seems to be under pressure to keep a very tight lid on the case, but from who?

In a seemingly unrelated matter, a mysterious guy with a rifle takes an entire hospital hostage.  His request is to speak with Nichelle herself and when she faces the gunman, she discovers that there is a lot more to the story than appears.  The police are under pressure to make an arrest, but there are way too many “whys” to the story and Nichelle keeps digging to discover the truth.

Complicating matters, the higher ups at the Richmond Telegraph seem to be aggressively trying to coerce Nichelle’s editor into retirement.  The truth behind both the hospital gunman and the murdered doctor may help to secure her editor’s job and her own shot at a story of a lifetime, but it may also threaten the one person Nichelle holds most dear.  It becomes a race to the deadline as Nichelle combines her sleuthing skills with the power of the pen.

Book Commentary:
I discovered this book series on a whim.  Read the first book and then promptly ordered the rest of the series.  I really enjoy Nichelle; she is smart and sassy without being a stereo-typical “tough girl.”  Her sense of justice is honorable, but I really admire her quest for a good story.  Although this series isn’t a hard-core police procedural, there is enough sleuthing and unraveling of details to give the story some real depth. I feel that sometimes the hard-core detective series focus so much on the procedural part that they lose the characterizations.

Nichelle’s personal life has an interesting way of blending into her professional life.  Ex-boyfriend Kyle is an FBI agent who thinks he would like to rekindle their past relationship and has a very strong sense of right and wrong.  Kyle follows the law to the letter and Nichelle sometimes likes to divert from that straight and narrow path.  Perfect example is Nichelle’s “friend” Joey.  She isn’t sure exactly what Joey does for living but there is a hint of some dubious, possible mob-related, connections.  Nichelle doesn’t even know Joey’s last name, but their relationship is sound at the moment.  I love to watch the building cat-and-mouse game between Kyle and Joey; their conflict promises to come to a head in future books.

Who might like this book:
I am a huge fan of Ellen Byerrum’s Crimes of Fashion series; her protagonist is a fashion reporter for a DC newspaper who seems to get herself embroiled in finding the facts for crime stories.  The Headlines in High Heels series has more of a universal appeal as the protagonist is a straight news reporter but both are very enjoyable.

It is also very interesting to see the contrast between print and internet media and television media.  Nichelle has a love-hate relationship with a local news reporter and it is fascinating to see how the different media sources get their information to the public.

I really enjoy this series; it has engaging plots, relatable and likeable characters, and quirky, yet real-life based plotlines.  Of course, read the series in order!

1 – Front Page Fatality
2 – Buried Leads
3 – Small Town Spin
4 – Devil in the Deadline
5 – Cover Shot
6 – Lethal Lifestyles (released Fall 2016)

A Man of Some Repute (A Very English Mystery 1)

A Man of Some Repute

Title:  A Man of Some Repute (A Very English Mystery 1)
Author:  Elizabeth Edmondson
Publisher:  Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date:  2015
ISBN:  978-1477829349

Book Summary:
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.

Book Commentary:
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.