Murder at the Brightwell is set in the 1930's and is a cozy mystery with elements of The Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
Amory Ames is not happy in her marriage. Her handsome husband Milo has just returned from a stay in Monte Carlo, and Amory has reached a point of dissatisfaction with his frequent absences and the gossip that accompanies them.
When Gil Trent, the man to whom she was engaged before meeting Milo, arrives unexpectedly and asks a favor, Amory is in the mood to go along with it. Gil is concerned about the intentions of Rupert Howe, the man his sister Emmeline is engaged to marry, and he wants Amory to try to persuade her to give the marriage more thought.
In order to talk to Emmeline, Amory must accompany Gil to the Brightwell Hotel. Aware that this excursion will create gossip, Amory's unhappiness with her husband motivates her to tell her husband that their marriage is foundering and to pack a bag and board the train to Brightwell. She is tired of being the retiring wife, waiting at home while her husband provides fodder for the gossip columns.
Amory immediately likes the Brightwell, a posh sea side resort, but is a little put off by some of the other members of the party, friends of Emmeline or Rupert. When Rupert Howe is murdered, Amory begins engaging in a little amateur sleuthing. Knowing Gil Trent's animosity toward Howe, she wants to be sure he is not accused of the murder.
Oh, and Milo arrives. Perhaps Amory's opinion of the marriage difficulties are one-sided. Why else would Milo postpone his own trip and travel to the Brightwell instead?
Although I saw mention of a comparison to Jacqueline Winspear, that comparison doesn't really work (aside from the tasteful cover). This novel is much lighter than Winspear's novels and more in line with the works of Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, or Dorothy Sayers.
It is a debut novel and is not perfect, but I quite liked it and believe it shows great promise for a fun new series for those who enjoy the style of Allingham or Sayers.
Read in April; blog review scheduled for Aug. 25.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books
Mystery/Detective Fiction. Oct. 14, 2014. Print version: 336 pages.