Series: Victorian Book Club Mystery #1
Published by Crooked Lane Books on June 9, 2020
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Historical Mystery
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A mystery author is charged with murder--and the plot thickens faster than anyone can turn the pages--in USA Today bestselling author Callie Hutton's new series debut, perfect for fans of Rhys Bowen and Ellery Adams.
Bath, England, 1890. Mystery author Lady Amy Lovell receives an anonymous letter containing shocking news: her fiancé, Mr. Ronald St. Vincent, has been dabbling in something illegal, which causes her to promptly break their engagement.
Two evenings later, as Lady Amy awaits a visit from Lord William Wethington, fellow member of the Bath Mystery Book Club, her former fiancé makes an unexpected and most unwelcome appearance at her house. She promptly sends him to the library to cool his heels but later discovers the room seemingly empty--until she stumbles upon a dead Mr. St. Vincent with a knife in his chest.
Lord Wethington arrives to find Lady Amy screaming and sends for the police, but the Bobbies immediately assume that she is the killer. Desperate to clear her name, Lady Amy and Lord Wethington launch their own investigation--and stir up a hornet's nest of suspects, from the gardener who served time in prison for murder to a vengeful woman who was spurned by St. Vincent before he proposed to Lady Amy.
Can they close the book on the case before the real killer gets away with murder?
I thoroughly enjoyed A Study in Murder. It’s set in Bath, England in 1890, but features a fairly modern woman. Lady Amy is a mystery writer, although she writes under a pseudonym at her father’s insistence and no one, aside from family and one close friend knows she’s E.D. Burton. She and her Aunt live at the house in Bath while her father and brother mostly stay in London. She chafes under the restrictions placed on women at the time and counts herself a suffragette. She’s twenty-five, not quite a “spinster” but older than most unmarried women, but that gives her the benefit of not actually needing a chaperone when she is out and about. Her Aunt Margaret is also single and a bit rebellious. She’s in on Amy’s secrets and supports her with a smile.
In a cozy mystery, there needs to be a reason the amateur is investigating. In this case, Amy is the main, possibly only, suspect. The dead man was her (ex-)fiance and was murdered in her house. The police seem to have their entire focus on proving she did it. Then, the main character needs a sidekick. Amy’s is Lord William Wethington, a friend from the mystery book club she’s a member of. Having a man helping her with the investigation allows them to gather information from places she couldn’t go, like the men’s clubs. And yes, he’s also her love interest, although their romance is just starting here. They’ve been friends for ages and the transition to becoming a couple is slow and natural and didn’t take over the plot in the least. We don’t even get a kiss until the end. I like them as partners. William takes her seriously, follows her hunches, and tries to keep her safe.
The plot was good. Amy and William, and eventually the detectives, turn up several suspects with a variety of motives. The clues made sense and led in the right direction if you paid attention.
Overall, A Study in Murder was a fun, quick read. There were a couple laugh out loud moments and I like the Victorian Era setting. The end gives us a glimpse into the next case and I’m looking forward to it.