Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey

Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey caught my eye the minute I saw the cover illustration and read a quick summary of the book.  I’m a huge fan of the traditional “cozy” mysteries and this book, first in the Manor Cat Mysteries series, takes place in rural England during the spring of 1912.

Lady Cecilia Bates spends the majority of her time on the grounds of her family’s estate, Danby Hall, living a life of leisure by assisting her mother, the Countess of Avebury, with parties and other domestic duties.  Her family’s estate is run like clockwork by a household of servants who cater the the family’s every whim.  Cecilia lives here with her brother, Patrick, who is the heir apparent of the estate.  To an outsider, Patrick seems an unlikely heir, as he would much rather be alone with the exotic plants he lovingly cares for in his laboratory.

As Danby Hall has increasingly become more difficult to maintain with the family’s finances, a glimmer of hope arrives in the form of Miss Annabel Clarke from the United States.  She, along with her vast wealth, arrive for a host of parties with the hope of an engagement to Patrick Bates who will become Earl of Avebury in years to come.

Immediately upon Miss Clarke’s arrival, an elaborate dinner party celebrates all that is best of Danby in order to impress the American heiress. What the residents of Danby Hall did not count on was the murder of a guest by poison just as drinks were served!  The victim is a renowned naturalist in between explorations who was making a quick stop at Danby Hall, but it quickly becomes apparent that maybe the poison wasn’t meant for him.

Lady Cecilia, along with Miss Clarke’s maid, Jane and her stowaway marmalade cat Jack, hit the ground running in an attempt to find the culprit and save Danby Hall from further scandal.  With the amateur sleuths finding clue after clue within the house, evidence points to someone close to the family or someone attempting to capitalize on the family’s dwindling fortune.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey.  Some of the twists and turns were to be expected, but the mystery kept my interest and was a true “cozy” mystery.  My only criticism is that I would have liked the manor cat, Jack, to have more of a starring role.  Maybe he will in the second installment, due in the summer of 2020.

An Act of Villainy : An Armory Ames Mystery by Ashley Weaver

An Act of Villainy is the fifth book in the delightful Armory Ames Mystery series written by librarian Ashley Weaver.  The series of mysteries jet-sets across Europe in the 1930s with amateur sleuths Armory Ames and her husband, Milo.  In this installment, Armory and Milo find themselves back at home in London and during a night on the town, the couple runs into old friend and playwright Gerald Holloway.

Holloway invites Armory and Milo to a dress rehearsal of his latest play and the couple readily accepts the chance to be among the first to see the production.  It is only when they arrive at the theater do they realize that Holloway has cast his mistress, Flora Bell, in the leading role.  The duo quickly find out the real reason for the invitation to the dress rehearsal is that Ms. Bell has been receiving threatening notes slipped under her dressing room door.  The anonymous author has detailed her demise and Holloway needs their help, imploring Armory and Milo to investigate and find out who is threatening his lady-love.  Time is of the essence when the threats increase and Flora Bell’s life could be in danger.  It is clear that many others have motive to cause harm to the rising starlet and Armory and Milo are bound and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery before opening night.

Ashley Weaver has created two clever and enchanting characters, whose banter with each other has the ability to sting.  I have enjoyed the complicated relationship between Armory and Milo and their growth and development throughout the books from newlyweds to established couple and, at times, everything in between.  Weaver brings Armory to life with her stylish wardrobe, wealthy hobbies and pampered lifestyle.  If you are a fan of cozy, traditional mysteries with two adventurous personalities, try the Armory Ames Mystery Series!

 

Mystery Series Debut! Toured to Death by Hy Conrad

Toured to Death

In Toured to Death, mystery writer Hy Conrad launches the exploits of Amy and Fanny Abel, a mother-and-daughter team of New York City travel agents unexpectedly turned sleuths.  Join this promising start to the Amy’s Travel Mystery series on the Monte Carlo to Rome Mystery Road Rally, the first European tour offered by our heroines’ fledgling niche-travel business.

With her mother Fanny’s support from across the Atlantic, Amy leads a group of twenty-four tourists through stylish French and Italian destinations as they hunt for clues to solve a fictional murder mystery.  Amy’s ambitious idea to combine a game of Clue with an Amazing Race-like competition unfolds smoothly…until actual murders begin to take place!  When one of of the tourists and the man hired to write the plot line for the mystery excursion are found dead, Amy and Fanny must put their heads together to keep the killer from striking again.  They soon learn that the writer’s story was based on a real-life murder case involving two of their current tour customers.  Working in tandem to solve the crimes, mother and daughter begin to overcome the loss of their partners, strengthen their relationship, save their agency’s reputation, and prepare for their next adventure!

If, like author Hy Conrad, you enjoy both mysteries and travel writing, pack your bags (including a magnifying glass) for Toured to Death and the Amy’s Travel Mystery series. Readers of “cozy” mysteries will be interested in this book’s unique take on the genre, and fans of TV’s Monk can compare how Conrad (a writer and producer for the series, as well as the author of novels based upon it) develops his detectives and other key characters for different formats.