In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, step outside of their social roles and put their lives at risk to apprehend a vicious killer…
December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia’s engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men.
But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing. Not entirely missing, however, as macabre evidence of foul play turns up in gift boxes given to lady’s maid Eva Huntford and a handful of others. Having overheard her sister and the Marquis in a heated exchange the night before, Lady Phoebe takes a personal interest in solving the mystery.
As the local constable suspects a footman at Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva follow the clues to a different conclusion. But both young women will need to think outside the box to wrap up this case—before a cornered killer lashes out with ill will toward them…
I really enjoyed this cozy mystery, hooked me from the first page. Excellent idea to choose as "detective" two girls from two different social classes, it was fun to see them interact and it was possible to see the lives of the aristocratic class and that of people who work "downstairs".
Lady Phoebe belongs to the British aristocratic class and lives in Foxwood Hall with her two sisters, her brother and her grandparents. She lost her mother many years ago and her father was killed in the war. The morning of Boxing Day Henry, Marquess of Allenton, one of their guests, has disappeared. Unfortunately his fingers are found in various gifts received by households. The police arrest a footman but Phoebe doesn't believe that he is the culprit. The evening before his death Henry had quarreled with her sister Julia and was blackmailing her. In her investigation she is helped by Eva, her personal maid. So they can investigate anywhere without arousing suspicion, in this historical period women are not free to do what they want and people of a certain social class could not enter certain places. Will they find the real culprit?
I like the choice of the historical period and setting. I love this English estate covered with snow. It's the first Christmas after the end of the World War I and everyone is still shocked by the horrors of war. Many families have lost members and are trying to move forward. Excellent historical reconstruction, we see that the author did careful research. Murder Most Malicious is the first chance I have had to read anything by Alyssa Maxwell. It most certainly will not be my last.
This is a wonderful mystery with charming characters, strong and captivating storyline. The plot flows effortlessly and will keep the reader turning pages. Great debut for this new series, I hope to read soon the sequel.
I recommend it to those who love historical cozy mystery set in England in the early 1900s.
About The Author
Alyssa Maxwell has worked in publishing as an assistant editor and a ghost writer, but knew from an early age that being a novelist was what she wanted most. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns while strolling manor house gardens, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons.