A Very English Murder – Book Review

A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #1 by: Verity Bright
Published on: April 7, 2020

Cozy mysteries and I do not always have the best relationship. While I enjoy mysteries, especially historical set in specific decades like the 1920s-40s, I often find this subgenre a little too ‘light’ for my own person tastes. However, I was reading a fictional book about a supervirus and although it was a good story it didn’t take too many chapters in to know I needed to take a break and what better way than a new cozy mysteries series set in England in the early 1920s.

In A Very English Murder Lady Eleanor Swift has recently inherited Henley Hall left to her by her uncle. Many years have passed she was last there and soon after arriving she finds herself exhausted and a little overwhelmed by it all and decides she needs to take a long walk. However, it is during this walk, which turns into a rain storm, that she sees a man being shot. Then, his body disappears.

While I enjoyed this book and loved having a light read available, the story and pacing itself felt a little uneven at times, especially shortly after the beginning. It opens up strong – introducing us to Lady Eleanor and what brings her into the murder story. But soon after informing the police, who don’t take her seriously, she finds she will have to do the investigation herself. It is at this point we meet several characters right in a row and to be honest it is here where it starts to feel like a plot checklist and didn’t come across as naturally as I would have liked. Meet this person – check, meet this next person – check. While I understand her desire to prove to everyone there was a murder, I did wonder if this was the immediate thing that would take place when moving into a new home, a new town, and a new life. It just felt a little forced.

But directly after these new character meetings, the story began feeling a little more natural when Lady Eleanor and Clifford, the butler, start having an actual conversation followed by a dinner party she is invited to where we begin to learn even more about her and her background as well as her neighbors. I soon started snuggling in and found myself engaged the rest of the way through.

There is a lot to enjoy – walks with the Gladstone, the dog, who sometimes plays the role of her “Watson”, Clifford who is used to doing things a certain way, two potential love interests (I already have a preference) as well as other interesting characters. Plus, it has a heroine who has cycled part of the subcontinent to follow in the footsteps of Annie Londonderry, who was the first woman who cycled around the world. So, if you are looking for a new cozy mystery you may want to check this one out.

Rating: 4 stars

Description:

England, 1920Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady.

Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing…

But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights…

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