I’m thrilled to be reviewing the latest in the Lady Eleanor Swift series today. This is a series that I discovered earlier this year and absolutely love, it’s perfect if you like cosy crime and fancy something historical as well.
Many thanks to Bookouture for having me on the tour and letting me have a copy of the book to review.
An English Christmas has mince pies, cheerful carols, a twinkling tree… and a murder? Thank goodness Lady Swift is on the scene!
Winter, 1920. Amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is feeling festive. She is playing host to the entire village at Henley Hall for gifts, games and gingerbread. She’s also purchased perfect presents for each of her household – not forgetting the biggest bone in the butcher’s shop for her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog – and is looking forward to celebrating her first English country Christmas.
As snowflakes fall, Eleanor is cheering on contestants in the traditional Christmas fun run in the grounds of the Hall. But tragedy strikes when one of the runners drops dead at the finish line. Dashing Detective Seldon is convinced it’s just a heart attack, but Eleanor isn’t so sure. When she finds a rather distinctive key where the man fell, Eleanor knows she’ll never rest until she finds out the truth about what happened in her own home.
Next the vicar is taken ill with what looks like poison and Eleanor starts to wonder if the two cases are linked. When someone tries to frame her by planting poisoned berries in her own kitchen, she knows speed is of the essence. But the entire village was at Henley Hall for the festivities and Eleanor has enough suspects to stuff a town full of turkeys. Can she nail the true killer and clear her name in time for Christmas?
Purchase Link: Amazon: https://bit.ly/2GRtSyc
The Review: I’ve read and enjoyed the previous books in this series so it’s no surprise to find out I enjoyed this one too. However, I think this one might also be the best so far because I romped through it. I had trouble keeping away from the book which is always the sign of a good story.
This time the story is set over the festive season and starts on Christmas Eve, though it’s not quite the Christmas Eve that we would recognise now. Lady Swift is following her late uncle’s traditions by inviting the village for lunch and has organised a race, which ends in tragedy. Having the death happen outside her very door Eleanor feels responsible and so decides to investigate when it becomes clear that the death was unlikely to be of natural causes.
Again we spend time with familiar characters including the fabulous Clifford, DI Seldon, Lancelot, Eleanor’s household staff and some of the villagers we’ve met in previous books. The weather also plays a part this time, and severe snow creates all sorts of problems for our detective duo. I include Clifford in this duo because while Eleanor is fabulous she benefits hugely from Clifford’s presence and logical thinking. This story is more Eleanor focused than the others and by that I mean that it tends to be her, the household and the suspects that are in the story, more so than other characters like Lancelot, and much as I like Lancelot (and DI Seldon) it was nice to have this story a bit more contained to a few people, it fitted with the season and the weather as well.
This is a brilliantly festive crime story so if you’re looking for cosy Christmas crime then this should definitely be on your list. I would say it can be read as a stand alone but I think it benefits from being read in order to understand better the changes that have happened since Eleanor first arrived at Henley Hall. Either way it’s definitely a gripping story and definitely one for the festive reading list.
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.