A raucous wedding reception turns sober when the wealthy groom is murdered in this historical mystery set in post-WWI England.
Since the Great War, the Renshaw family fortune has suffered, and Lady Julia Renshaw is under pressure to marry for money. She has settled on Gilbert Townsend, a much older viscount and wealthy industrialist. It’s clear to her sister Phoebe that this is not a love match. Nevertheless, the wedding takes place—and in a hurry.
At the reception aboard the groom’s yacht, there appears to be tension between Gil and several guests: his best man, a fellow veteran of the Boer War; his grouchy spinster sister; and his current heir, a nervous young cousin named Ernest. The bride is also less than pleased when she discovers that Gil’s attractive young secretary will be escorting them on their honeymoon.
The next morning, before the yacht can depart the harbor, Gil’s body is found in the water below—and Julia is the prime suspect. Now Phoebe and her maid Eva must discover who pushed him over before the Renshaws’ social standing is irreparably stained by murder.
Set in April 1920, Maxwell's winning fourth Lady and Lady's Maid mystery (after 2017's A Devious Death) takes Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her maid, Eva Huntford, to Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, for the marriage of Lady Phoebe's older sister, Julia, to Viscount Gil Townsend, a wealthy industrialist several decades her senior. The Renshaws hope the alliance, no love match, will improve the family fortunes, which have declined since the Great War. The day after the wedding, Gil disappears, only to be found drowned at the Royal Yacht Squadron. It soon becomes clear that Gil, who had his share of enemies, was pushed into the water and Julia is a prime suspect. Showing events from the points of view of both the privileged and the servant classes, Maxwell tells her tale well. The action unfolds smoothly until well-disguised clues lead to a clever and satisfying denouement. Downton Abbey fans will have fun.