Berkley Prime Crime Mystery – February 2001
ISBN 0425178560 PB
Historical Mystery / Cozy - England 1942

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde, MyShelf.com
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Kate Kingsbury has enchanted many mystery lovers with her entertaining
Pennyfoot Hotel novels and now turns her attention to an entirely new series featuring the resourceful but beleaguered Lady Elizabeth Hartleigh Compton. She has the house and the title but no money, a senile butler of 85 and the determination to keep the peace in the village of Sitting Marsh.

But this isn’t easy when there is a war on, foot is scarce, the menfolk are
away fighting and there is only a retired bobby in lieu of the police.
Particularly when there are a lot of American soldiers stationed nearby who are “overpaid, oversexed and over here” and a great temptation to young girls. When 16-year-old Beryl Pierce goes missing and is then found murdered beneath a cliff her distraught mother begs Lady Elizabeth to find out whodunit. Beryl had more than one boyfriend so this won’t be easy especially when the American officers are about to be billeted at the manor house!

As with the Pennyfoot Hotel series Kingsbury writes an engaging tale about likeable folk – in short, this is a good old-fashioned cozy. But whereas cozies are intentionally weak on gore they triumph by being strong on plot and this isn’t. The WWII background is spot on and very well described but the characters could do with a bit more fleshing out to really come to life and remain as pencil sketches apart from the elderly butler who is very well drawn and more like a colored picture. If Kingsbury does this (as I have no doubt she will) and concocts a more convoluted plot then this ought to be an entertaining series.

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