By Anthony Slayton
Published April 2022
“I do not wish to disturb you, your lordship, but there is a body in the garden…”
And so begins this 1920’s English country house murder mystery. I read that line on the jacket copy and thought, “Yep, I need to request this one.”
The novel begins with Lord Unsworth throwing a rare party, which is interrupted by the discovery of a dead woman in the garden. The Earl asks his newish secretary, Mr. Quayle, to investigate the murder alongside the police to both avoid scandal for the family and to protect their secrets. Mr. Quayle reluctantly agrees, given that he owes a debt to the Earl and will do everything in his power to protect the family.
The Detective Inspector assigned to the case is an old army comrade of Mr. Quayle, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Mr. Quayle shadows the Inspector. But when DI Wintle sets his sights on the Earl’s nephew as the murderer, Mr. Quayle must go rogue to figure out who the mysterious woman was, why she was on the grounds that night, and what part everyone played in her murder…before the DI arrests the wrong person.
This book is comped to Agatha Christie and I have to agree it has that feel. The first POV character is Lord Unsworth and I absolutely adored his voice; although, I was disappointed when he didn’t make another appearance as the POV character after the first chapter. The narrative was handed off to Mr. Quayle and Detective Wintle and although not as much fun as Lord Unsworth, they were entertaining in their own right. While at times working at cross-purposes to each other, they made a great team.
I kind of figured out who the murderer was about two thirds of the way through the book, then the author had me guessing if I’d been right. Especially when two more bodies appeared. The final outcome was more intricate than I had considered and I applaud the author for the twists worked into the build up to the crime.
All of the characters were delightful, if a bit stereotypical. Lord Unsworth was a recluse on the verge of bankruptcy. His niece Fanny provided period relevance as the “Bright Young Thing.” Poor nephew Arthur – always trying to live up to his cousin’s memory and cowed by his mother Constance (Lord Unsworth’s sister and an absolute dragon. I loved her too.) The range of characters reminded me a bit of The Seven and ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
All in all, a really fun read and I’ll be going back to read the first Mr. Quayle mystery to fill in the gaps in his backstory.
I rated this novel 4 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to BookSirens for providing the ARC copy of this novel. I have left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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