Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth each year, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.
Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?
Aided by her gallant friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, Frances begins assisting the police in this highly sensitive case, learning more about her peers than she ever wished to know. Too many suspects may be worse than none at all—but even more worrying is that the number of victims is increasing too. And unless Frances takes care, she’ll soon find herself among them . . .
In the second Countess of Harleigh mystery, Frances starts to investigate a murder that looks like a blackmail scheme gone bad. The troubling part is that the blackmailer was a lady, Mary Archer she was hoping to match her cousin with, who also becomes the primary suspect for the murder. As she and George have to comb through all the possible suspects, as Mary had information of a variety of society people, they have to figure out who had a strong enough motive to kill her. Meanwhile, Frances also has to juggle her sister’s upcoming engagement as well as the matchmaking efforts for her sister’s friend, Charlotte.
The series has a light tone, and I am immensely enjoying the mysteries that have been solved over these two books. Frances is a delight, as always, and this book also had another entertaining character in Charlotte, a klutzy but capable girl who keeps surprising Frances. Meanwhile, George’s and Frances’ relationship is going well – they really are like partners in this book, and while the romance is subtle, it is sweet to see. The mystery itself was good – loads of suspects means loads of red herrings, and it kept me guessing till the end. The only problem is that there are repetitions quite often, when the characters gather to review their facts and inform each other of new insights; it starts to get like ‘ugh do we have to go over this again?’ Otherwise, though, this cozy mystery is an entertaining book.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Kensington Books, via Netgalley.
Previous book in the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series
Releases on June 25, 2019