Monday, July 28, 2008

Wrapping Up

While *still* waiting for my ARCs to arrive, I picked up #7 in Kate Kingsbury's Manor House series, Fire When Ready. After the munitions factory explodes, with the owner and charwoman locked inside the office, Lady Elizabeth decides to investigate because the constables are calling it an accident. Since the owner (McNally) had approached Lady Elizabeth, concerned about threatening letter's he'd received, Lady Elizabeth thinks the coincidence is too much. She digs around to find the truth. Still waiting, I picked up #8, Wedding Rows. This one was a lot of fun, chock-full of red herrings and suspects. A wedding-guest at a village wedding is found stabbed with the cake-knife, and so many people wanted him dead that Lady Elizabeth has her work cut out for her. And the final entry in the series, #9, is An Unmentionable Murder. Featuring the hilarious subplot of ladies' knickers being stolen off the line (and this is indeed a crisis, as clothing is rationed and the ladies of the village have fewer and fewer unmentionables left...), there is an obligatory death, of Clyde Morgan, the rag-and-bone man who is not missed by anyone. Though the constables think it's suicide, his gun is in the wrong hand, and Lady Elizabeth investigates.

My review of #1 in the series, A Bicycle Built for Murder
My reviews of #2 (Death Is In The Air) and #3 (For Whom Death Tolls)
My review of #4 (Dig Deep For Murder)
My reviews of #5 (Paint by Murder) and #6 (Berried Alive)

Overall series review: These mysteries are set during WWII, in the village of Sitting Marsh. Lady Elizabeth is lady of the manor, and her tenants look to her to help solve their problems. The war effort has taken the town's constables, leaving George and SId to keep law and order in the village. The constables, dragged out of retirement, aren't inclined to expend too much effort in crime solving, so Lady Elizabeth steps up to conduct real investigations of the (appalling number of) murders in the village. Her servants are now limited to housekeeper Violet and doddering Martin the butler. Her authority in the village is regularly challenged by the jealous Rita Crumm and her Housewives Brigade (which keeps an eye out for German spies and stage protests when needed). And new employees Polly and Sadie are young enough to spend their time flirting with American GIs who are now billeted in the manor. Lady Elizabeth herself is torn between decorum and her feelings for an American major. Part soap opera, part murder mystery, this series is a lot of fun, and I felt it ended well. Note: 'Kate Kingsbury' is really romance writer Doreen Roberts, who has just started a new mystery series set in an Edwardian girls' school under the name Rebecca Kent. I have the first book, High Marks for Murder, as well as the entire Pennyfoot Hotel series by Kate Kingsbury, on my TBR pile.

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