This is the first book in the A Very English Mystery series penned by Elizabeth Edmondson.
Firstly, there’s no way I’m going to resist a book set in 1950’s Britain and has a cover that looks as delicious as that. And now that I’ve read it, I don’t regret my obsession one bit. I’ve always been quite drawn to the Victorian era. The castles with their butlers and towers, sleepy villages, the slightly regal language and mannerisms – it’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading Conan Doyle and Wodehouse so much! Now Elizabeth Edmondson has come up with an equally delectable tale and I can tell it’s a great start to a potentially delightful series.
As is usual with mysteries, some one is dead at the beginning. In this case it’s the Lord Selchester, Earl of the intriguing village Selchester. He is presumed dead after he goes missing one stormy night never to return again. Seven years later, our protagonist Hugo Hawksworth (an ex-army official) and his teenage sister Georgia arrive from London as temporary lodgers at the castle as Hugo is given a desk job at a local office following his leg injury. The police seem to be on the verge of closing the case but the death of the Earl naturally kindles his curiosity and he starts to poke around until one shocking discovery which will change everything. Motives are sought, friends are questioned and the mystery becomes more woolly as the truth gets revealed in layers. It ends rather unexpectedly but in a satisfactory way.
I also liked how unpredictable the plot was. Sure, you have a standard template when it comes to crime-detective books but this one took nice detours along the way. The characterization was also something to be given credit to, as it is evident that the author took a special interest in giving all the characters some personality quirks that made them stand out in someway or the other. For example, Georgia’s gluttony. It’s a random detail and isn’t really relevant to the story but it makes the character that much more three dimensional.
I did have a minor issue with the way dialogue was used as information dump, especially at the very beginning. I was saying to myself that people don’t generally speak this way in real life, unless they’re characters in a play. And maybe that was the intended effect as each chapter was indeed divided into ‘Scenes’, but it did feel a tad awkward but thankfully got better as the book progressed.
All in all, a great cozy afternoon read if you’re into the kind of books this one falls under. Highly recommended and I will be picking up the second installment soon as this one does end on a surprise reveal!