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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Review - A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder

I read many comparisons of this series style with Georgette Heyer, who I love.  So I had to read it.  This is my review of the first in the series.

Author: Dianne Freeman

Copyright: June 2018 (Kensington) 290 pgs

Series: 1st in A Countess of Harleigh Mysteries

Sensuality: mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Character: Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh- recently widowed

Setting: Victorian era, London, England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh, enjoys more freedom as a widow than she did as a wife. With her young daughter in tow, Frances rents a home in Belgravia and prepares to welcome her sister, Lily, arriving from New York—for her first London season.
But no sooner has Frances begun her new life than the Metropolitan police receive an anonymous letter implicating Frances in her husband’s death. Frances assures Inspector Delaney of her innocence, but she’s also keen to keep him from learning the scandalous circumstances of Reggie’s demise. As fate would have it, her dashing new neighbor, George Hazelton, is one of only two other people aware of the full story.
While busy with social engagements on Lily’s behalf, and worrying if Reggie really was murdered, Frances rallies her wits, a circle of gossips, and the ever-chivalrous Mr. Hazelton to uncover the truth. A killer is in their midst, and Frances must unmask the villain before Lily’s season—and their lives—come to a most unseemly end . . ."

Frances Wynn is just beginning to live her life and she is thrilled and cautious.  Her sister, Lily, is visiting to find a husband and is a stellar character.  Frances deceased husband, Reggie, is still tormenting her, now with his death.  Neighbor and a friend's brother, George Hazelton, is the only other person that knows Reggie died while with his mistress. He is also the potential romantic interest.  Detective Inspector Delaney is probably one of my favorite cops.

This book brings out the shallow lives of many in the aristocracy.  It certainly brings up the changing times and how hard it is for the upper class to adjust to the style they are accustomed to living is going the way of the dodo.  This is the London presented.

The plot is intriguing.  After seven years of marriage, her unfaithful husband dies and she is free to move to London and live life on her terms... until someone sends notes to the police accusing her of murdering her husband and Inspector Delaney shows up and her doorstep.   Additionally, there's a jewel thief running around stealing from the upper class at their gatherings as a side plot.

The killer reveal may come as a surprise, I had considered this character but hadn't given that character more serious consideration until closer to the reveal.  There were a few moments of tension in the reveal. 

Many of the historical mysteries have a slightly darker edge to them.  This is the exception with its more breezy writing style.  If you want a lighter historical mystery that is also a slow-burn on the romance side, then this is for you.  I found it refreshing and delightful.

Ratings: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Mystica said...

Anything like Georgette Heyer I am in. Thank you for the review.

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