Book: Murder by Invitation
Author: Verity Bright
Pub Day: September 27, 2023
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Lady Swift has been cordially invited to a huge royal celebration in Little Buckford to toast the King’s birthday… but wait, is that a body in the village hall?
Lady Eleanor Swift and her loyal butler Clifford are busy lending a hand with preparations for the big day. The grand dining room at Henley Hall is overflowing with home-sewn flags, paint and royal rosettes. Even Gladstone the bulldog and his new friend Tomkins the ginger cat are invited!
But just days before the event Mr Prestwick-Peterson, the chairman of the celebrations committee, is found dead in the village hall: strangled with handmade red, white and royal blue bunting.
With the village hall in total disarray and a key part of the decorations missing, Eleanor wonders if someone dastardly is sabotaging the King’s birthday celebrations? Teaming up with her handsome beau Detective Hugh Seldon to question the local butcher, baker, and pub landlord it becomes clear that the meddlesome busybody Mr Prestwick-Peterson was not universally liked in charming Little Buckford. Indeed, the only mystery is why he wasn’t murdered before…
Searching Mr Prestwick-Peterson’s pristinely organised rooms, Eleanor is surprised to find a faded photograph of a beautiful young woman hidden within the pages of a novel. Could this be the key to untangling this very village murder? And can Eleanor catch the killer before the party is over for her, too?
A totally charming, unputdownable Golden Age murder mystery with characters readers will adore. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.
The entire village of Little Buckford is enthusiastically preparing for the King’s birthday celebration. Eleanor, Clifford, and the ladies are all in on the preparation efforts. Eleanor’s sweetie Hugh – Detective Inspector Seldon – is on the scene, too. And that turns out to be a good thing, as murder strikes close to home this time. The chairman of the celebration committee is found dead in the village hall just days before the big to-do. As it turns out, he was almost universally disliked. But who hated him enough to kill him?
I think this is the best Lady Swift mystery yet! What a challenge, for Eleanor to consider that someone she knows and sees regularly might be a killer. From the pub owner to the butcher and everyone in between, almost everyone found Prestwick-Peterson annoying, or worse. In some instances, he’d taken action that threatened people’s livelihoods. Is that enough to push someone to murder?
And there are always close calls for Eleanor and Clifford, but this is the first time I think they’ve been in serious danger. I was biting my nails, waiting to see how Verity Bright got them out of their sticky circumstances.
The mystery itself kept me guessing, and I did not at all figure how it would end up. I’m not telling you what happens, but Bright led me a merry chase until it all started to come together. I do love a mystery I can’t figure out!
It’s also delightful seeing Hugh’s first real introduction to village life as Eleanor’s fiancé, indeed, their first real time together since their engagement. Eleanor is worried that some might think the lady of the manor is marrying beneath her station, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. In fact, they’re officially introduced at a formal celebration dinner, and it goes off quite well!
The supporting cast of characters is, as always, thoroughly enjoyable. Butter, Trotters, and the rest of the staff must never sleep and must have eight hands each, what with all they were doing to prepare for the celebration and to lay on a good spread for Hugh’s benefit! The relationship Eleanor has with her staff is truly a treat. She is a woman ahead of her time, and I love her for it.
With Murder by Invitation, Verity Bright gives us another delectable entry in the adventures of Eleanor Swift. May there be many more! Highly recommended if you like Golden Age mysteries told with humor, wit, and a side of nonconformity from your heroine.
Thanks to Bookouture and the author for a review copy of the book. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.
About the author:
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.