Murder casts a dark shadow over the christening of Lady Lucy and Major Sir Robert Kurland's daughter Elizabeth—even more so when Lucy's own father, the rector, falls under suspicion for the crime . . .
Lucy and Robert’s joy in christening their new daughter, surrounded by extended family and loved ones who have gathered in the village of Kurland St. Mary, is only enhanced when Robert’s aunt Rose—now the second wife of Lucy’s father Ambrose—announces that she is with child. However, not everyone is happy about the news, in particular Rose's adult daughter Henrietta and her husband, who fear for their inheritance.
Following the christening, Rose’s disagreeable son-in-law Basil Northam threatens to turn afternoon tea in the rectory into an unsightly brawl. The next morning, he is found in the rector’s study, stabbed through the heart with an antique letter opener, clutching a note that appears to implicate the rector himself.
As the local justice of the peace, Robert has an obligation to remain unbiased in his investigation of the ghastly crime, even though his prime suspect is a man of the cloth and his wife’s father. But Lucy is under no such obligation. As snow traps the members of the christening party in Kurland St. Mary, she vows to clear her father’s name and bring the cold-blooded culprit to justice. Someone had better start saying their prayers . . .
In Lloyd's sprightly eighth mystery featuring tactful but shrewdly observant Lady Lucy Kurland and her husband, Robert, Lord Kurland (after 2020's Death Comes to the Nursery), their families descend in the winter of 1826 on the English village of Kurland St. Mary, where the happy couple are about to celebrate the christening of their baby daughter. The families have become further entwined by the marriage of Lucy's father, Ambrose, to Robert's aunt Rose. Trouble blossoms when the vile Lord Northam and his imperious wife, Henrietta, who's Rose's daughter from her first marriage, arrive uninvited. After Northam is stabbed to death with Ambrose's letter opener, Robert, as the local magistrate, is duty bound to investigate the crime. With Ambrose the chief suspect, Lucy makes inquiries of her own to prove her father's innocence. The tension rises as a snow storm isolates the christening party. Wonderfully loathsome characters and all manner of unsavory behavior enhance the puzzling plot. Lloyd is sure to win new fans.
Mystery at it’s finest
I typically don’t like mysteries, and this is definitely an exception for me. This was a great book, full of vivid intrigue that keeps the story moving along briskly, right down to the last page. The characters are well-written—rich and full of period detail that helps build the story in so many ways. The plot takes many twists and turns as we all try to work out the “who done it” of the murder, keeping the reader guessing to the very end. I can usually see the path down which the author is leading us, and this time, I was simply following along trying to figure it out. I loved the grand finish in the parlor of the rectory (sounds like something from “Clue, doesn’t it?) in the style of Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. This is a great story, don’t miss it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. This is my freely given, honest review.
Lucy is now a supporting character who is overwhelmed by her husband. The first few books of the series were much better. It was still an enjoyable read, but superficial and underdeveloped compared to the first few books in the series.