1926 and Nell Drury is getting ready in her role as chef at
Wychbourne House for a luncheon to welcome the new neighbors.
These are famous artist, Sir Gilbert Saddler, and his new
wife, a former artist’s model and heroine of the recent
war. Sir Gilbert is a member of a new art movement called
the Artistes de Cler (nicknamed the Clerries), and he has
invited some of its members to stage an exhibition of Africa-inspired
work at his summer festival. Things take a dark turn when
a body is found, and it is up to Nell (and her friend, Inspector
Alex) to uncover whodunit, and why.
This is the third in Ms Myers’
entertaining series of country house mysteries set in the
1920s. Investigator Nell might be a servant, but since the
war, the relationship between master and servant is not quite
the same. Nell has her own car and is more akin to a modern
caterer and a well respected member of the household. I don’t
know enough about the period to say how accurate this is.
Lord Ansley’s valet and his friend are both shell shocked
veterans, trapped in their own worlds and the recent war overshadows
everything, as well as being a vital element in the mystery.
Myers has a readable, lively way of writing, and I was instantly
drawn into the story, which has an excellent beginning and
end but sags somewhat in the middle as certain clues are investigated
again and again. Some editing would have been a good idea,
and I still find Lady Clarice and her ghost obsession was
rather wearing (in my opinion), although even this has a part
to play in the story. As this is not a paranormal series,
rather too much time is accorded to it, but this is a minor
gripe in a mystery that has plenty in it to entertain. I look
forward to the next title in the series.