Series: Manor Cat Mystery #1
Publication Date: 11/26/19
Number of Pages: 304
*** 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 ***
This book covers a lot of firsts – I believe it is the first book by the author, it is the first book in this series and it is my first read by this author. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to request this book because I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a talking, magical cat or – well – something else. Happily, it turns out it is just a normal cat doing normal cat things and the sleuthing is left up to the two ladies.
The mystery itself isn’t too challenging to figure out, but it was interesting to see how the resolution unfolded. Historical mysteries are my favorite sub-genre and this fit right into that mold – although 1912 is a bit later than my normal reading period. I enjoyed the setting – a period when young ladies are trying to figure out what to do with themselves; the beginnings of the suffragette movement, etc. Given that, I think it will be fun to see Lady Cecilia work her way through what she wants for herself and her life – while solving mysteries, of course. In order to satisfy my reading requirements though, I’ll need a love interest for Cecilia and I didn’t see that. I did see one potential, though inappropriate, possibility in a private investigator who makes a brief appearance. We’ll just have to see what happens in the romance department before I decide whether to continue, long term, with the series.
The Blake family, like many others of the time, are titled and rich in properties, but poor in the money to actually support those properties or the lifestyles that go with them. If they don’t come up with a solution soon, they will be forced to sell their beautiful estate, Danby Hall. The family, Lady Cecilia, Lord Patrick (Viscount Bellham), and Lord Avebury are going along with Lady Avebury’s plan to marry Patrick off to an American heiress. Patrick is one of those lovely, sweet, befuddled people who is always lost in his own world of scientific (botany) experiments. He’s a very handsome young man, just oblivious to the world around him.
The Blake’s are hosting a house party with the American heiress, Annabel Clarke, as the guest of honor. It turns out the lady is quite a demanding, temperamental diva and is quite full of herself. Yet, she charms Patrick and he seems totally smitten. Cecilia notices some strange undercurrents among the guests, but they are a varied lot and some have old enmities. Most of the guests, however, don’t even know each other. That makes it really hard to figure out what is going on when a guest suddenly dies in the middle of dinner one evening. It seems he was poisoned and the heiress is sure that it was meant for her.
Lady Cecilia has always been curious about what was going on, but when it seems Patrick is the prime suspect, she is determined to solve the mystery. I love that Cecilia and Jane become instant friends and both have an insatiable curiosity. They work well together – one covers the upstairs folks and the other covers the belowstairs folks.
There was a lovely epilogue that sets up the next book, Lady Rights a Wrong, and that will be interesting to see. I’ll certainly read that addition to the series to see if a romance is added in and then I’ll decide whether to continue with the series or not.
This was a fun read and I think the author did a nice job of creating an interesting mystery with red herrings and distractions. I believe that Eliza Casey is a pseudonym for a multi-published author, but I don’t know which one.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.