Coming home after a holiday is almost as enjoyable as the holiday itself, Edith Jackson surveyed the familiar comfort of her bedroom and parlor, her eyes lingering over beloved objects that she had collected over the years. ~ Opening of A Death By Any Other Name
A Death by Any Other Name (Lady Montfort, #3) by Tessa Arlen
Minotaur Books, 2017
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 336 pgs
Source: E-copy provided by the publisher for review.
Source: E-copy provided by the publisher for review.
The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson's services are called upon after a cook is framed and dismissed for poisoning a guest of the Hyde Rose Society. Promising to help her regain her job and her dignity, the pair trek out to the countryside to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires. There, they are to discover a villain of audacious cunning among a group of mild-mannered, amateur rose-breeders. While they investigate, the rumor mill fills with talk about a conflict over in Prussia where someone quite important was shot. There is talk of war and they must race the clock to solve the mystery as the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of WWI.
While the last two murder investigations Countess Clementine Talbot, better known as Lady Montfort, and her housekeeper Mrs. Jackson got involved in were closer to home--and easy to excuse their involvement in--this time around the two women step way out of the usual circles--right into the middle class. When a former cook from a well to do middle class family approaches Mrs. Jackson about her circumstances, Mrs. Jackson has mixed feelings. The cook claims she was let go because of a death in the household, allegedly the result of accidental food poisoning. Only, the cook isn't so sure it was an accident, and she is hoping Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson can find a way to clear her name. Mrs. Jackson is as reluctant as ever to get involved, but the same cannot be said for Lady Montfort who seems to like sticking her nose into these most serious matters.
As always, it was a joy to spend time with Mrs. Jackson and Lady Monfort. I love how proper Mrs. Jackson is. She takes her role as head housekeeper very seriously and does not like to meddle where she doesn't belong. And yet the always curious and determined Lady Montfort manages to talk her into it every time.
Using a well-known guest visiting the Montfort estate to gain an invite to the Hyde Rose Society, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson find themselves among an interesting group of people, all aspiring hybrid rose breeders. They all feel very passionately about their roses, the two learn rather quickly. Among the group, is the widow of the dead man. The group arrange for a competition with their well known guest, Ms. Jekyll, as the judge. She's not altogether happy about the idea, not being a fan of hybrid roses, but she goes along with it just the same. Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson do there best to get to know everyone and learn the facts of surrounding the popular member's death. The reader gets a definite flavor of the class differences between the characters, most often through Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson's observations as they talk with the guests, the hostess and the staff.
I admit to not especially caring for many of those in the Hyde Rose Society. They each have their own possible motives for the possible murder. And the man of the house, especially, is a despicable character. He treats his wife very poorly.
In the background of events at Hyde Castle is the possibility of war. Germany has invaded Poland and set its sights on France. Lady Montfort is worried about all her children, one who is traveling by sea to the Baltics and another who is living in France with her young children and husband. Lady Montfort's son is a pilot, flying for Churchill. All their lives are about to irrevocably change and the tension is high. In each one of her novels, I have appreciated how well Tessa Arlen captures the time period, both in historical detail but also in the more social and psychological aspect.
I wasn't quite as taken with this third addition to the series as the first two, although it was still a very enjoyable read. I felt as if there were some loose ends not tied up in regards to events at Hyde Castle. It was definitely interesting to see Lady Montfort and even Mrs. Jackson out of their elements a bit. They certainly had their work cut out for them! I loved the literary references added into the novel. This continues to be one of my favorite cozy historical mystery series, and I am eager to see what Tessa Arlen has in store for us next!
Many thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to be a part of this tour!
© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
I need to check out this series as I've read many good reviews about it. Glad you enjoyed it and that the next book will be better. :)ReplyDelete
Melody - I hope you do get a chance to check it out. I am really enjoying it. :-)Delete
It sounds like a solid addition to the series even if it wasn't your favorite.ReplyDelete
Kathy - Yes, I do think it was a solid book and I did enjoy it, even if I liked the first two in the series better. :-)Delete
This one didn't appeal to me as much as the first in the series, but I did enjoy it. I agree that the plot had some loose ends. I liked having Gertrude Jekyll appear in a cameo, though, because her gardens have always fascinated me.ReplyDelete
Jenclair - I liked having Gertrude Jekyll in the novel too. I hadn't known much about her, actually, before hand. I loved her character though.Delete
I have the first book in the series and am looking forward to it. It's too bad that this one didn't grab you as much as the other two though it does sound good. I find that the books in a series where the main characters are out of their element are always fun but seldom my favorite. Looking forward to trying this one!ReplyDelete
Katherine - I hope you are able to read further in the series. I know how hard that can be though with all the other series you read!Delete
I haven't read any of these books, but I like the time period and you know I like mysteries. I'll have to see if I can check out the first one in the series and give it a try. :)ReplyDelete
Lark - I love this time period, especially being in England. I hope you get a chance to give the series a try!Delete
Ugh I'm behind on these. I loved the first one, have not gotten to the second one yet. Soon!ReplyDelete
Greg - I hope you are able to find time to catch up. With so many books, I know how hard that can be!Delete
So glad to see you enjoyed this one. I haven't read a cozy mystery series yet, but I need to give one a go.ReplyDelete
Angie - Thank you. You have a wide variety to choose from if you decide to try a cozy mystery! They come in quite a variety. I admit I am partial to ones with paranormal elements, but I do enjoy the other types of cozies too--like this one, which is historical.Delete
This is a new one for me but I do like the sound of it. I may have to hunt up the first book in the series at some point.ReplyDelete
Carole - Definitely start with the first one if you can, although this could stand alone just fine on its own. It's just the first book is when I fell for the series. :-)Delete
There's bound to be one in a series that isn't AS good as the rest. Still sounds like a good series, though.ReplyDelete
Christy - That is very true. No series is perfect with every book. This was still a good one though, and worth checking out. :-)Delete
I need to add this to my historical mystery series to check out! Thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
Iliana - I hope you do check it out!Delete