murderPUBLISHER: Kensington, 12/2015
GENRE: Historical Mystery
SETTING: England, December 1918
SERIES: A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery, #1

FROM PUBLISHER: 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. . .

MY THOUGHTS: This sounded very interesting and indeed parts were, like the foul 'gift' included in several gift boxes for several of the employees of Foxwood Hall. The whole story was very ordinary, slow-paced, and not a whole lot went on. It certainly isn't action-packed. This was a very mild mystery that seemed like it was for young adults.

There were entirely too many characters to keep track of and I have about 1 1/2 pages of names written down in my notes so I could keep up with everyone...and still had trouble remembering who's who. I think some of them were added just to help fill pages.

There's no depth to the story or characters. I like Eva a lot and would have liked to have gotten some background information on her. Julia, Phoebe's older sister, is very unfriendly, even to Phoebe, and I didn't get to find out why, or much else about her.

I'm not happy with who the culprit was, his reasons for doing what he did and passing out the 'gifts' he did though I loved what the author chose for him to do. Not original but imaginative. I'm sick and tired of authors' having the culprit confess to at least one person, usually his next potential victim, right at the end of the story, then he/they're captured and the story is wrapped up with a pretty bow. That doesn't happen in real life.

Though my review is mostly critical I still enjoyed the story. It was slightly boring because of the pace and I did wish it would move along faster throughout most of it but it still held my interest. I liked both lead characters, Phoebe and Eva. Not quite thirty pages into the story is when the mystery began, and for that I'm happy. I'm impatient so I appreciated not having to get halfway through the story before anything big happened.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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