Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reminiscent of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Cristie

Amory Ames' wandering husband, Milo, returns unexpectedly from Monte Carlo. At the same time Gill Trent, her ex-fiancé, arrives to ask a favor. Gil wants Amory to accompany him to the Brightwell Hotel where his sister Emmeline and her fiancé Rupert are on holiday. He knows that Amory's marriage to Milo is less than ideal and hopes that she will be able to convince Emmeline to end the engagement. He also has feelings to Amory, but is too much of a gentleman to act on them openly.

Amory realizes that she's playing a game that could lead to a scandal by going off with Gil, but she wants to help Emmeline, and she wants to think about her disintegrating marriage. Milo, however, is not one to give up gracefully and soon they are all ensconced at the Brightwell. The holiday starts well enough, but when Rupert is murdered and Gil is the main suspect, Amory feels she must do something to solve the crime no matter who is guilty.

This is a delightful mystery. It reminded me of Dorothy Sayers' Have His Carcase which also takes place a a seaside hotel in the 1930s. The hotel, situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean, is elegant without being ostentatious. This was the era when wealthy holiday makers wore evening dress to dinner and danced to the strains of a live orchestra hired by the hotel for the season. I would love to have visited the Brightwell. Until the murder, it sounded quite the perfect place for a holiday.

The book features a number of interesting characters from the elegant playboy, Milo, to the very unhappy Hamiltons, and mismatched Rogers. Amory is typical of the wealthy women of that era. Brought up in a household where emotion was frowned upon, she has trouble recognizing it in other people which leads to some amusing encounters, particularly with Gil and Milo.

The plot has several threads and ends with a twist that I didn't see coming. I throughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it if you like mystery served with more than a dash of romance.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.