Book Review: Murder Spoils the Fair (Dodo Dorchester #8) by Ann Sutton

Book cover with the title "Murder Spoils the Fair" on a colorful background depictins a carousel, Ferris wheel, and roller coaster in the background. There is a young woman in 1920s dress in the foreground.
  • Title: Murder Spoils the Fair
  • Author: Ann Sutton
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Would I recommend: Only if you want to read an engaging, clean cozy mystery! I loved it!


A high profile national fair, a murdered model. Can Dodo solve the crime before it closes the fair?

The historic British Empire Fair of 1924 is set to be officially opened by the king at the new Wembley Stadium and Lady Dorothea Dorchester, Dodo, has an invitation.

The whole fair is an attempt to build morale after a devastating World War and the planning and preparation have been in the works for years. So much is riding on its success.

The biggest soap maker in England has been offered the opportunity to host a beauty exhibit and after a nationwide search for the ten most beautiful girls in Britain, they build an extravagant ‘palace’ that will feature live models representing famous women of history, including one who will represent today’s modern woman. Dodo has succeeded in winning the bid to clothe Miss 1924 with fashions from the House of Dubois for whom she is a fashion ambassador.

But the fair has hardly begun when disaster strikes. One of the models is murdered. Can Dodo find the murderer before the bad PR closes the fair?

My review:

I loved my introduction to Dodo Dorchester, Murder on the Med. Murder Spoils the Fair raises the bar for the series!

Here we see Dodo as a working woman! (Not to worry, though, she hasn’t left the lap of luxury entirely.) She’s now a fashion ambassador for the House of Dubois. In that capacity, she has won the opportunity to provide the wardrobe for Miss 1924, one of ten young ladies representing famous women of history in an exhibit at the British Empire Fair. The exhibit is hosted by the biggest soap maker in England, and the young ladies chosen for it are expected (and contractually obligated) to behave in a manner above reproach. But when one of the lovely young models is found dead in her exhibit space, the fair may be over before it starts.

Once again, I am struck by how accepting law enforcement is of Dodo’s ability to help. Here, the lead detective on the case acknowledges that Dodo has access to, and the chance to uncover, information that he does not, given her position working with the young ladies in the exhibit. So often in cozies involving amateur sleuths, I’m on edge, worrying that their efforts to help investigate are going to get them into trouble. I don’t have that worry here, and it frees me up to enjoy the mystery, and Dodo’s investigative efforts, that much more.

We see more of Lizzie, Dodo’s maid (and occasionally, partner in investigations), in this book, too. She and her young man appear to be moving ahead in their relationship, and Dodo wholeheartedly encourages it. She puts her maid’s happiness first, not any inconvenience she might suffer should Lizzie leave her service.

And Rupert and Dodo are getting along swimmingly, too! We see an interesting facet of Rupert’s personality as he and Dodo discuss his plans for her twenty-first birthday party. I’m not going to tell you what the plans are (you have to read the book to find out!), but it’s going to be quite a wingding.

Most importantly, the mystery is top-notch. Ann Sutton puts a unique spin on the whodunnit by her choice of villain in this story. She took me on quite the chase, with first one suspect, now another, now a third, but wait! A second dead body turns up and all three of those suspects were out of the picture! It was a treat unraveling clues along with Dodo.

I was also delighted to learn something I didn’t know before. I had no idea there was a British Empire Exhibition, but it was an actual historical event. It was basically a big PR push on the part of the British government, and it sounds like it was quite the spectacle.

Murder Spoils the Fair is another five-star read for Ann Sutton. I recommend it for anyone who likes a good cozy with a little history and a spark or two of romance!

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