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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: Murder Has No Class

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Winner of the MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE book giveaway is Wendy.  If you haven't received an email from me please contact me with your mail address.  Thank you everyone for participating.

I have so many books to review from publishers, as well as the ones I have been wanting to read, that I am trying to read a second here and there.  So today we have a cozy mystery sent me by the publisher that was published this last January (see how behind I am?)

Author: Rebecca Kent

Copyright: January, 2010 (Berkley); 240 pgs.

Series: #3 (and the last) in Bellehaven House Mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery sub-genre: Edwardian Historical Cozy

Main Character: Meredith Llewellyn, headmistress of Finishing School for Young Ladies...who sees ghosts

Setting: England in 1905 in the midst of the Women's Rights movement

Obtained book through: Publisher, in exchange for an honest review

Lord James Stalham has claimed innocence in the murder of his father from the moment he was discovered standing over his father's dead body and even into death after being tried and hung for the murder. Now Stalham's ghost is haunting Meredith Llewellyn. The headmistress needs her sleep, so she sets out for the truth-and discovers a high-society scandal.

Meredith gets visits from ghosts who can't move on, usually because of a murder and justice hasn't been carried out. But Meredith isn't fond of seeing the ghosts nor helping out, in this case she does so to get rid of the pestering entity.
Angry swirls coiled around in a flurry of whirlpools until gradually, a figure began to form in the middle of it all.  Dark and black it rose, until Merdith could see it was a man. 

Her heart began to pounding and she clutched the eiderdown to her chin.  This was no friendly ghost, as the others had been.  This was a man convulsed with rage, with flashes of lightning shooting out in every direction and his fist raised in the air in violent protest.

As always she could hear no sound from the apparition, but she could feel the energy pulsing into the room, driven by the terrible fury of her unwelcome visitor.
The main plot is who killed Stalham if his son is innocent, secondary plots are the assistant Tom Platt who is too friendly with the girls and just might be related to the owner, Felicity and Essie who are Meredith's sidekicks, and two trouble-seeking maids Grace and Olivia who want to stage a suffrage demonstration in the town pub and they recruit the school girls to participate, and then there is the owner of Bellehaven, Stuart Hamilton, it become clear he likes Meredith as more than the competent headmistress.  When it is revealed that their is going to be a big dart tournament in the same bar and time as the demonstration the reader foresees the coming trainwreck and the question is how will everybody get out of the pending disaster.

Meredith came across a bit stiff and stilted to me and I had nothing to feel a commonality with her. She gets flustered very easily by the very presence of the owner which seemed improbable to me even accounting for the time period - afterall she has to manage an entire school of unruly teen girls not to mention the staff while teaching a class herself and she sees ghosts! I wanted to like her and I think I could have if there was something that struck a chord with me, but it wasn't there.

This is a light and easy read that doesn't get bogged down with too much sensibility. Meredith goes to Lord Stalham's house and claims to be an interested buyer in the house so she can get a tour and grill the servants on the events of the night Lord Stalham Sr. was murdered. For a book set so heavily amidst the women's rights movement I found it strange that it would be so easilly accepted that a woman was going to buy a major piece of real estate all by herself - I could be wrong, but a woman's lawyer would have been present and he would have dealt with most of the details and questions regarding the house. A woman never handled such matters without a man at that time. Then the improbable amounts of information that Meredith got from snooping as a buyer just seemed too easily won.

The mystery itself supplies a limited number of suspects and you try to figure which one actually had motive and time to kill the elder Lord Stalham before the son rushed into the library upon hearing the gun shot.  It is somewhat like a game of CLUE.  The killer isn't too difficult to detect.  This will appeal to those who just want something very light to read and not work hard at.

If you like light cozy mysteries set in England this might be a book for you.

If you are a fan you can go to the authors website and get a summary of the characters and how their lives turn out after the end of this book since it is the last in the series.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

A special added little something...this recipe is always a huge hit.  It is sooooo good and yet way too easy (since you will be tempted to whip up this rich decadent delight all the time.)

Rachel Ray's 5 Minute Fudge

* 1 bag semisweet chocolate morsels (12 ounces)
* 9 ounces butterscotch morsels (3/4 of a 12 ounce bag)
* 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 can or package of walnut halves (8 ounces)
* Bundt cake pan lightly greased

Place a heavy pot on the stove and pre-heat it over low heat. Add chocolate and butterscotch morsels and milk and stir until morsels are melted and milk is combined. Stir in the vanilla and remove the fudge from heat. Add the nuts and stir in immediately.

Spoon fudge into already greased bundt cake pan. 

The fudge will start to set up almost immediately.

Chill covered in the refrigerator.

You can leave and serve from the Bundt pan or remove it to a platter for serving.

Slice the fudge very thin when ready to serve - a little goes a long way!

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Jill said...

I love reading reviews like yours: detailed, well-thought-out, specific and balanced. Your comments don't just say 'what' but also 'why'. The 'why' is most important! Would love to see more reviews written in the style of this one.

A.F. Heart said...


Thank you so much for your kind words. I will endeavor to keep up that level of reviews.

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