A Manor House Mystery, No 2
June 2011/ ISBN 978-0-425-24190-5
by Laura Hinds
Grace Wheaton is the new curator of Marshfield Manor. Having been
involved in solving the murder of her predecessor in the first book
“Grace Under Pressure”, Grace is settling into her work
routine and wishing for no more trouble. That wish goes unanswered,
however, when a Civil War Re-enactment camp rents space on the grounds
and yet another murder happens. One of the actors, Zachary Kincade,
is a shallow ladies man and is disliked by many of his fellow campers.
Unfortunately, Marshfield Manor’s groundskeeper, Jack Embers,
and his younger brother Davey have a history with Kincade and his
own brother. When Jack falls under suspicion Grace is at a loss
as to what to do. She and Jack have a budding relationship and she
doesn’t want to believe he could be guilty of murder. Will
the police arrest him or will they be led in another direction with
a little help from Grace and her assistant Frances?
I really like this series for many reasons. The characters are
believable, and Grace is a strong woman who is striving for independence
while balancing her career, her falling-apart house, and her relationships
with her boss, the elderly Bennett Marshfield, her roommates (including
a new kitten that she is allergic to), her assistant Frances, and
her new romance with Jack Embers.
The story is well written and I found it interesting to learn about
the customs and manners of Civil War Re-enactment groups as well.
The author obviously did her research and put a great deal of effort
into accuracy. It was very realistic, down to the fact that some
of the people in the camp smuggled in things that were considered
“farby”, which loosely means historically inaccurate.
The book manages to tie together a present day murder in a Civil
War setting and a modern day murder that happened several years
ago. It is done very cleverly, with no loose ends left hanging,
and no obvious red-herrings. Grace, unlike many amateur sleuths,
actually talks to the police and keeps them in the loop about what
she learns. This doesn’t mean she won’t face danger,
but it shows she has a good head on her shoulders.
I enjoyed the book very much, and I recommend it to mystery lovers
of all ages. It is a fairly fast read, perhaps because as a reader
you get so caught up in the atmosphere that the book is hard to
put down. History buffs will like the book too. It is not necessary
to read “Grace Under Pressure” first, but it is a good
way to get to know the characters from the beginning and to be in
on the ground floor of this sure to be a hit series.