A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

This entertaining Victorian mystery is perfect summer reading for fans of British mysteries or Georgette Heyer’s witty Regency romances. Set in 1899 in Surrey and London, American-born Frances Wynn, the elder Countess of Harleigh, is just finishing her year of mourning for her husband Reggie. Frances and her young daughter Rose are moving to London, over the protests of her brother and sister-in-law, who want Frances to fund repairs to their manor house.

Frances’ aunt and younger sister Lily arrive for the season, and Lily acquires three suitors. After a stolen bracelet is found in Frances’ bag, Frances and her neighbor George Hazelton are concerned that one of Lily’s suitors may be responsible for recent thefts at society balls. If that wasn’t enough, Inspector Delaney calls to ask Frances questions about Reggie’s death. Lighthearted and fast-paced, this first novel is a delight. I enjoyed the audiobook narration of Sarah Zimmerman, and look forward to reading A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, which is available now.

Brenda

The Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

In the harsh, relentless heat of the Australian outback, Queensland rancher Nathan Cameron searches for answers when his brother Cameron is found dead by an isolated headstone, not too far from his fully stocked jeep. With his teen son Xander visiting from Brisbane for the Christmas holidays, Nathan settles in at the nearby family homestead, looking for answers. Younger brother Bub isn’t the brightest and Nathan’s extremely isolated, while successful Cameron seemed to have it made with lovely Dutch wife Ilse and two young daughters. A compelling standalone mystery by the author of The Dry, this novel has a twisty plot and an ever intensifying pace. Audiobook narrator Steve Shanahan is outstanding as the backstories of the family, staff, and neighbors are revealed. The complicated relationship of the three brothers and their mother Liz are the legacy of an angry, violent father who isn’t missed. Paintings are significant here, especially those of the legendary stockman’s grave. The red clay dust of the outback is everywhere, but Nathan finds beauty in the wide open spaces, as may the reader. A very satisfying read, this is on my list of most memorable books of the year.
Brenda

 

An American Agent

An American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear

Private investigator Maisie and her friend Priscilla spend a few evenings a week driving an ambulance in London during the blitz. Catherine Saxon, an American reporter, rides along one night, reports what she saw on the radio, and is found dead the next day. Maisie and her assistant Billy investigate, with occasional help from an attractive American agent, Mark Scott. Maisie visits Catherine’s boarding house, and meets with her friends, all while worried about her family in Kent, where she spends weekends. An intriguing puzzle, appealing characters, and a fast-paced story make this a memorable mystery. The first book in the long-running series is Maisie Dobbs.

Brenda

Death and Daisies

Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower

A charming Scottish cozy mystery in which Fiona Knox, a florist from Tennessee, opens a flower shop in Duncreigan, a fishing village. After a violent thunderstorm the local minister, who was anything but welcoming to Fiona, is found dead on the beach. He disapproved of the magical garden Fiona inherited from her godfather. Fiona feels compelled to help Chief Inspector Neil Craig by investigating on her own, especially after a threatening note is left in her shop. Plenty of local color and appealing characters make for a very pleasant read. This is the sequel to Flowers and Foul Play, the first book in the Magic Garden series. Readalikes include Paige Shelton and Molly MacRae’s Scottish mysteries.

Brenda

The Vanishing Man

The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch

I’ve long enjoyed reading and listening to the Charles Lenox Victorian mystery series by Charles Finch, and this prequel is a great entry into the series. Set in London and Kent in 1853, gentleman Charles Lenox, 26, along with his valet Graham, is learning to be a private detective, even though he doesn’t need to charge for his services. His good friend, Lady Jane, lives next door and supports his new endeavor. The Vanishing Man of the title could refer to two mysteries; the theft of a portrait of a former duke and the disappearance of the current Duke of Dorset, whose London mansion is close to Parliament and the Thames River. Lenox is in search of both, and an even more intriguing mystery relating to William Shakespeare. I enjoy the audiobook narration of James Langton, as well as a strong sense of place, very appealing main characters, and a clever plot. Recommended for historical mystery readers and Anglophiles. The first prequel is The Woman in the Water, and the first book in the main series is A Beautiful Blue Death.

Brenda

Death of an Eye

Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow

An intriguing mystery set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 47 B.C. A shipment of new coins is stolen from a cargo ship during a fire in the harbor and then the investigator, Cleopatra’s Eye, is killed. Merchant Tetisheri, Cleopatra’s childhood friend, is chosen to solve both mysteries. Class differences between the Romans, The Greek Alexandrians, and the native Egyptians make for interesting politics. After a slow start mainly due to unfamiliar place and character names, the pacing and suspense keep building, making for an engaging read. Cleopatra, pregnant with Julius Caesar’s child, is enigmatic and swift to take vengeance as needed. Cleopatra’s brother and co-ruler is one of Tetisheri’s obstacles in solving the crimes, as is her nasty ex-husband. First in a new series by the author of the bestselling Kate Shugak Alaskan mysteries, I look forward to the next case that Tetisheri is asked to solve. The setting of ancient Alexandria comes to life, and the gorgeous book jacket adds to the reading experience. And for fans of Kate, another Alaskan mystery is being written.

Brenda

Death Comes to Bath

Death Comes to Bath by Catherine Lloyd

I loved the beautiful setting of this Regency-era English mystery, and the ability to easily start this series at book six. After a war wound received at Waterloo becomes infected, Sir Robert Kurland and his wife Lucy rent a house in Bath so that Robert can enjoy the healing properties of the Roman baths. Bringing Lucy’s sister Ann, their doctor Fletcher and his pregnant wife Penelope, it’s a lively household. Lucy and Robert get to know the mismatched couple next door, Sir William Benson, an older man from Yorkshire who spends time at the baths with Robert, and his younger, beautiful wife. When William dies suddenly, suspicion falls on his sons and stepsons, especially when his will can’t be found. After a second suspicious death next door, amateur sleuths Lucy and Robert work together to uncover the truth. Colorful characters and a clever plot make me want to spend more time with Robert and Lucy, who first appear in Death Comes to the Village. This novel is a good readalike for the Stephanie Barron mystery series featuring Jane Austen as an amateur sleuth.

Brenda