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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review - Murder at Brightwell

This novel was shortlisted for the Edgar Award for best first novel in 2015 and received critical acclaim.  I found the premise fascinating and like to start with the beginning of a series.  So I bring you the first in the Amory Ames mystery series set in the 1930s with a spunky heroine.

Author: Ashley Weaver

Copyright: Oct 2014 (Minotaur) 333 pgs

Series: 1st in Amory Ames Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Amory Ames, dissatisfied society wife of a playboy

Setting: 1932, Brighton on the south coast of England

Obtained Through: Publisher/NetGalley for honest review

Book Blurb: "Amory Ames, a wealthy young woman questioning her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo, is looking for a change. She accepts a request for help from her former fiancĂ©, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will not only test her friendship with Gil, but also will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the luxurious Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe a disreputable ladies man. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and as the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim."

Amory Ames, hurting from her husband's neglect is developing a jaded view of life after a short time married.  She thinks perhaps she should start living her life apart from Milo and takes this opportunity to not sit at home wondering when Milo will spend some time with her.  She doesn't seek sympathy, rather she starts to live a little.  Milo, the lackadaisical husband who can't seem to stop being the playboy is my least favorite character but at least he gets a smidgen jealous.  Gil Trent, the former fiance has good and bad qualities and is the catalyst for Amory to re-evaluate her situation.  Gil's sister, Emelline reminds Amory of her pre-married self as she is helplessly in love with a man who won't make her happy.  Each of the characters, even Milo, are under suspicion at one point or another. 

Bright and luxurious Brightwell made the mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie's "An Affair at Styles" only more stylish.  It is an excellent setting and used to great effect.  The pace keeps up between looking for a murderer and Amory's dealing with Milo and their complicated relationship.  My interest was carried throughout to the end.  

The climax has a deliciously tense killer reveal and the wrapup ties up threads while leaving just enough about Amory and Milo's situation to be continued in the next book "Death Wears a Mask".

There is wonderful sharp witty dialog, particularly between Amory and Milo.  Amory is a well developed character that you can relate to on many levels.  The running theme that money doesn't gaurantee happiness is under the surface and simply demonstrated.  

Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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