The Murder at Mandeville Hall by Stephanie Laurens
Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Casebook of Barnaby Adair #5
Publication Date: 8/16/18
Number of Pages: 226
A historical murder mystery and lovely romance – what more could I ask for. As always, the writing is well above average, the story is well plotted and excellently delivered. I really enjoyed the romance in this one because the heroine is unusual. She is tall and statuesque and everything the hero thought he didn’t want in a wife. It shouldn’t bother me, but it does – you very rarely learn anybody’s rank or title in this series. I don’t want the title, etc. to be a big deal in the story, but it just helps me put things in perspective if I know.
Alaric, Lord Carradale is thirty-seven years old and head of his family. He’s finally come to the determination that it is time for him to wed since his cousin and heir is a complete putz. So, he’s been getting his affairs in order, updating his home, etc. and planning to find himself a peaceful, biddable bride. It is a bit of a hassle to attend his good friend Percy Mandeville’s house party while he’s trying to get everything ready for a bride, but he can’t hurt Percy’s feelings by not attending. He’ll attend the party, but he won’t stay over, he’ll just come and go each day since his estate adjoins Percy’s.
The attendees at this house party are different than those Percy usually invites. There are married couples and even a couple of single young ladies there. Alaric wonders at the change but doesn’t think much of it. He meets one of the debutants, Glynis, and she asks him to walk on the terrace with her. She chatters on pleasantly and then they return inside. Alaric soon decides it is time to leave for home.
Constance Whittaker has been sent by her family to retrieve her cousin Glynis from the house party. The family doesn’t believe it is a proper environment for Glynis and they want her home. Since Glynis’ mother is ill, Constance was sent in her place. Constance has resigned herself to spinsterhood, she’s too old, to buxom, to straight-forward, etc. for any man to make an offer for her.
As Alaric returns to Mandeville Hall the next morning, he discovered the lifeless body of Glynis lying in the hedges. As he is looking at the bruises on her neck, he sees an Amazon coming his way. At first, she accuses him of having murdered her cousin. Once she hears his story and sees his concern, she realizes he isn’t guilty and they decide to work together to find justice for Glynis.
The local magistrate is called, against Alaric’s wishes. He knows that with the new rules, Scotland Yard is supposed to be notified. Alaric also knows that Chief Inspector Stokes would be the one sent to investigate and Stokes would involve Barnaby and Penelope Adair. The local magistrate wants to sweep it under the rug until a second murder occurs and Alaric makes it all but impossible for them not to notify Scotland Yard.
This begins a lovely romance between Alaric and Constance and a double-murder investigation. Do they have more than one murderer or did the same murderer commit both crimes?
I thoroughly enjoyed both the romance and the mystery – although I have to say the murderer was pretty obvious to me from early on. Maybe I’ve read too many mysteries. That didn’t take away from my enjoyment – I just enjoyed reading to discover that my assumption was correct.
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