Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Kurland St. Mary Mystery #8
Number of Pages: 304
*** 3.5 Stars Rounded Up ***
I really struggled with what rating to give this book. If it was a book in the middle of a series, I’d give it 5-stars easily because the mystery is well-written, well-plotted, and well-executed. Usually, I figure out within the first chapter or two who the murderer is – but I wasn’t sure with this one. I had suspicions – but definitely wasn’t sure. However, this book isn’t in the middle of a series, it is the wrap-up for a series and, as such, it just wasn’t satisfying to me. The author has said she might write some additional short stories for this series in the future, but, to this reader, that doesn’t make up for what is lacking in this final book. As a series ender, I did not want to see a family left splintered and in turmoil. I wanted to know what the future held for the Harrington’s – especially the twins and Anna – Oh, and Rose’s baby. Yet, Anna was hardly even mentioned in the story and she wasn’t at her niece’s christening. So, if you read the book for the mystery, you’ll enjoy it – but if you read it for both the mystery and the wrap-up to a much-loved series, you’ll end up a bit disappointed. All of that disappointment could have so easily been avoided with just an additional chapter or an epilogue showing the family in their happy lives at some future point. I’m not exactly sorry I read the book – but I’m not exactly jumping for joy either.
Lady Lucy and Sir Robert Kurland are preparing to celebrate the christening of their baby daughter, Elizabeth Jane Sarah, who was named after her deceased grandmothers and her great-aunt. They’ve invited friends and family and have filled both the rectory and the manor with guests. In the middle of all of the guest’s arrival, there is an unexpected, uninvited, and unwanted couple who appears. Robert asks them to leave, but since the woman, Henrietta, is Robert’s cousin – and the step-daughter of Lucy’s father – they can hardly remove them bodily. You’ll never see a nastier set of people than Henrietta and her husband Lord Northam. Robert makes it very plain to both of them that they WILL NOT disturb the christening services. This is his much-loved, and much-doted-upon daughter’s big day and he will not have it spoiled.
Just after the services, the body of Basil, Lord Northam, is discovered in the rector’s office – with the rector’s letter opener. That immediately makes the rector, Lucy’s father, the prime suspect. Lucy doesn’t believe her father is guilty – but Robert thinks he could be. As the magistrate for the area, it is Robert’s duty to investigate and determine the guilty party – even if that means hurting his wife.
It seems everyone has a reason to want Lord Northam dead – he was mutually hated by all who knew him. As the investigation continues, more and more secrets come to light along with more and more reasons someone would want to kill Lord Northam. Yet, all of the evidence keeps coming back to the rector. Henrietta insists that the rector is the guilty party and she makes that loud and clear to any and all who will listen. Can Robert and Lucy work through all of the secrets and lies to get to the truth? That truth will surprise you!
I did enjoy the mystery, but the overall feel of the book left me wanting. I thought Lucy was much too sanguine about her father being accused of murder and much too accepting of Robert’s need to pursue her father as a suspect. The ending was also dissatisfying because there was no real wrap-up. The family was left fractured with more wounds than could be easily repaired.
If you love the series, I hope you won’t be as disappointed as I was in the final book. If you aren’t invested in the series – you should find the mystery very enjoyable.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.