Absolutely loved this!
Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback
Series: Kurland St. Mary Mystery, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery
A season in London promises a welcome change of pace for two friends from the village of Kurland St. Mary—until murder makes a debut…
With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy’s special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism.
Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead. When it’s revealed she’s been poisoned, Robert’s former betrothed, Miss Chingford, is accused, and she in turn points a finger at Anna. To protect her sister, Lucy enlists Robert’s aid in drawing out the true culprit.
But with suspects ranging from resentful rivals and embittered family members to the toast of the ton, it will take all their sleuthing skills to unmask the poisoner before more trouble is stirred up…
An extremely well-plotted mystery that really kept me guessing,Death Comes to London is the second in the series but works fine as a stand alone. (I’ve already picked up book one, though–be warned! This series *might* be habit-forming 😉 Seriously–the audio’s downloading as I write this.)
Set during the Regency, Death felt authentic to its time period–Ms. Lloyd paid close attention to her details. When we’re seeing a scene from Robert (Major Kurland)’s point of view, for example, Lucy is always referred to as Miss Harrington, whether it’s in his thoughts or out loud; the same holds true when it’s Lucy’s POV. Details like this really made me feel as if I were immersed in the historical setting, which I loved.
The clues to the mystery are laid out with equal precision. The information you need to figure it out along with Lucy and Robert is all there, cleverly woven into the narrative if you’re paying close enough attention. Even though I figured out whodunit a bit before our hero and heroine, other aspects of the mystery remained mysterious until the big reveal–exactly what I look for in a good mystery read.
The romance is still developing here–slow and steady wins the race, right?–and the ending has me very anxious for the next book in the series. Lucy and Robert are obviously (obviously to everyone else on the planet, that is, but sadly not to each other yet) an ideal match, and I’m dying (pun totally intended) for them to realize it. Together they form an inimitable duo reminiscent of Amelia Peabody/Radcliffe Emerson ( Crocodile on the Sandbank ) and Lady Emily Ashton/Colin Hargreaves (And Only to Deceive ). Murderers, beware!
Hurry up, series book three!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
She looked up at Robert and curtsied. “Major, you’ve missed all the excitement again. The dowager countess is attempting to get Miss Chingford and Anna thrown out of Almacks.
“I doubt she will succeed.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because I just saw her coming this way after speaking to Lady Jersey and she looked absolutely furious.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Miss Harrington said. “Anna is beside herself.”
“And Miss Chingford?”
“Too busy looking for you to find out if you are to be ennobled.”
“Ah. That’s why she was trying to ingratiate herself with me again.”
“She’s already tried?” Miss Harrington shook her head. “Five minutes ago she was threatening to kill the dowager, and now she’s moved on to reattaching herself to you. One has to admire her stamina.” She looked over his shoulder. “Where is the dowager now?”
“Talking to another old harridan and arguing with her. Does she ever stop?”
“That’s Lady Bentley. Apparently, the dowager has accused her of stealing some jewelry from her.”
“So I’ve heard over the breakfast table all week.” Robert considered the gaunt peeress who was now pointing her finger in the dowager’s face to emphasize each word. “I can’t see Lady Bentley breaking into someone’s house, can you?”
“No, but my aunt says they’ve hated each other for years, but no one quite remembers why. Recently, all-out war has broken out again.”
“The dowager does seem to have a gift for bringing out the worst in people. They are coming toward us. Let’s stage a retreat.” Miss Harrington turned with him and pretended to admire the potted palm trees and exotic flowers that decorated the ballroom. “It must be wonderful to see such things in their natural state.”
“While your clothes stick to you, your skin is attacked and bitten by a million insects and you fear the native population are going to kill you?”
“You have no imagination, Major.”
“That’s because I’ve actually experienced such places, and know that in reality you’d be running away screaming.”
“I would not.” She raised her chin. “Although the chances of me ever being able to prove that to you, or any other man are remote, as I’ll never be given the opportunity to travel.”
“Perhaps this mythical husband of yours had better be a world traveler. I believe Captain McNamara is looking for a new wife.”
“And he is over fifty years old.”
“I didn’t realize you were inclined to be so particular.”
“I suppose you assume I have no choice!”
“I—” He blinked at her. “I beg your pardon.”
“Accepted. Will you please take me back to my aunt?”
Taking her elbow he maneuvered her back into the circle around Anna and the Countess of Clavelly. Broughton looked up as his grandmother approached with Lady Bentley still in tow and groaned. He put down his almost full glass.
“Oh no, not again.”
“Lieutenant, can you try and draw Lady Bentley off while I deal with your grandmother?” Miss Harrington asked. “She does look rather overwrought.”
A tray with glasses of orgeat stood on the side table and she picked up two. Miss Harrington went up to the dowager who was visibly shaking with anger, her narrow lips thinned, and her cheeks a hectic red.
“My lady, please take some orgeat and sit down. You look rather warm.”
For a moment Robert tensed ready to intervene as the dowager’s black gaze fastened on Miss Harrington. Then she abruptly held out her hand and took the glass.
“I hope it chokes the old witch.”
Robert glanced across at Oliver Broughton who was glaring at his grandmother, his expression a mixture of embarrassment and contempt. With a muttered oath, Oliver turned on his heel and stalked away toward the card room.
Robert switched his attention back to Miss Harrington who was now staring down in consternation at the skirt of her blue gown.
He removed the empty glass from her hand. “You’re supposed to drink it, Miss Harrington. Not throw it all over yourself, or were you aiming at the dowager countess?”
She held the wet fabric away from her. “Someone caught my elbow from behind. This was my favorite dress.”
“I’m sure it can be fixed.” Anxious to avoid another female expressing her emotions, Robert looked frantically around. “ Shall I find your aunt, or Mrs. Hathaway so that they can accompany you to the ladies retiring room?”
“I can do that myself, thank you, Major. Oh good Lord.” She glanced distractedly around the ballroom. “Now Miss Chingford is bearing down on us and Lieutenant Broughton has allowed Lady Bentley to escape him. They are both converging on the dowager and she really isn’t well. All that rage comes at a price.”
“That’s not your concern, Miss Harrington. Let Broughton handle his grandmother and take yourself off to the retiring room. I’ll stay here and tell you what happens. I even promise to intervene if it proves necessary.”
“Thank you, Major.” She gathered her skirts. “If you would be so kind as to tell my aunt where I’ve gone, I would be most obliged.”
She turned away just as the dowager stood up again to confront Lady Bentley and Miss Chingford who converged upon her.
“And what do you two want? Do you think I have time to listen to—”
With a strangled sound the dowager clutched at her throat and started to fight to breathe. Her face contorted and she fell forward, her cane clattering to the floor as she writhed and twitched like burning parchment and finally went still.
Around them the ball went on. Only those in the immediate vicinity seemed to realize that something was amiss. Robert went down on his knees and grasped the dowager’s thin wrist. He bent even closer to observe her chest and finally stared into her wide black eyes.
“What happened? What’s wrong?”
Miss Harrington knelt opposite him. Robert swallowed hard and raised his gaze to hers. He’d seen many die but not in such bizarre surroundings as a ballroom. It made the sight even more obscene.
“She can’t be.”
“Fetch Broughton and his mother and see if we can find a physician.”
Praise for the Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series
“Lloyd’s delightful debut…Readers will hope that death returns soon to Kurland St. Mary.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A skillfully crafted mystery that combines a wounded war hero, an inquisitive rector’s daughter and a quaint peaceful village with some sinister secrets…a compelling picture of a young woman trying to find the courage to stand up for herself.” – RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, TOP PICK!
“A Regency Rear Window whose chair-bound hero and the woman who civilizes him generate sparks worthy of Darcy and Elizabeth. – Kirkus Reviews
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Catherine Lloyd grew up in London, England in the middle of a large family of girls. She quickly decided her imagination was a wonderful thing and was often in trouble for making stuff up. She finally worked out she could make a career out of this when she moved to the USA with her husband and four children and began writing fiction. With a background in historical research and a love of old-fashioned mysteries, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to wonder what a young Regency Miss Marple might be like, and how she would deal with a far from pleasant hero of the Napoleonic wars.