When the reclusive Earl of Unsworth’s first party in over a decade is spoiled by murder, His Lordship’s loyal and efficient secretary, Mr. Quayle, must unravel a web of red-herrings and buried secrets before the murderer can strike again…
“I do not wish to disturb you, your grace, but there is a body in the garden…”
England, 1925. When a strange young woman is found murdered on the grounds of Unsworth Castle, the Duke and his family are astounded at first, but quickly become enraged when the police begin asking all sorts of impertinent questions.
And when suspicions dare to fall on one of their own, it is up to Mr. Quayle, Lord Unsworth’s exceedingly efficient secretary, to find the true culprit and save the House of Unsworth from scandal and ruin.
Absolutely loved this one.
This is the first in a new cosy mystery series with quite an unlikely sleuth – though there is a prequel which I’ll review later this month, so look out for it!
Set in the aftermath of WWI, this series revolves around Mr. Quayle, a war veteran employed by Lord Unsworth, the father of Quayle’s commanding officer during the war. You can’t miss that there is a lot of history in Quayle’s relationship with this family, but it’s only hinted at, and I have to say, I’m so curious to know more about it in the coming novels.
Quayle is a very sober, very quite man. But he’s also very observant and knows a lot about human nature – I suspect him to have a soft heart too. It serves him well when a murder happens in the middle of a party.
I loved the atmosphere of the ancient English Estate where all the action takes place. It breathes family history, and Lord Unsworth is a dedicated historian who knows everything about his ancestors. Lord Unsworth’s family, though not very large, has a very complicated history, and I enjoyed watching all the dynamics and how Quayle navigates them with wisdom and tact.
All the characters are real, and it isn’t difficult at all to sympathise with them. And you do sympathise, with all of them, including the murderer (before you discover who that is).
Though not prominent in the story, the undercurrent of WWI is strong enough to give it personality, and it’s one of the things I enjoyed the most. In one way or another, every character has been touched by the experience of war. Teddy, Lord Unsworth’s heir and Quayle’s commanding officer, cast a long shadow on the story even if it never becomes the centre of it, and I loved this. I sense that sooner or later, this story will become prominent. But at the moment, it’s brewing in the background, and it adds more layers.
The mystery was quite complex but never confusing in a negative way. The end was absolutely a Golden Age classic.
I loved all of it.A Most Efficient Murder by Anthony Slayton – First instalment in Anthony Slayton's cosy mystery series. An introduction to the life of the English upper class seen by a keen-eyed WWI veteran #amreading #HistoricalMystery #BookReview Click To Tweet
A Most Efficient Murder
The two men stood smoking side by side in companionable silence for the next few minutes, each lost in their own private thoughts. Every once in a while, Major Eatwell would reach down to rub his leg.
“A piece of shrapnel,” he said, following Mr. Quayle’s gaze. “Normally, it doesn’t bother me too much, but sometimes, when it’s cold and dump, I can still feel it… aching.” He shrugged, and Mr. Quayle nodded in sympathy. “A lovely little souvenir from the Somme,” Major Eatwell added, not even bothering to disguise his bitterness.
“You do?” Major Eatwell blinked at Quayle.
“When singing your praises, Fanny has been known to call you the Hero of the Somme.”
Major Eatwell grimaced. “There were no heroes at the Somme,” he said. “Ony survivors.”
“Sounds about right.”
“Father wanted me to join the navy, you know? Always said I wouldn’t have been wounded if I’d just done as I was told.”
“If you’d join the navy,” Mr. Quayle pointed out, “there’s every possibility you would have been sunk or drowned.”
“Try telling my father that! He was on the Admiralty Board and was always adamant that I should have followed n his footsteps. The man loved me, though, I suppose, and did everything he could to help me.”
“I barely knew my father,” Mr. Quayle said. “And my mother had… higher aspirations for me.” He discarded his cigarette. “In any case, I think it’s probably time I headed upstairs. Lord Unsworth will be expecting me in the study, although God only knows how much longer they’ll be in there.”
“Of course,” Major Eatwell said. “Good night, Mr. Quayle.”
Mr. Quayle hesitated fr a second. “A word of advice, if I may,” he said.
“You’ve been very good with Fanny – very kind and considerate – and I don’t think for a moment that Lord Unsworth hasn’t noticed. He may not be particularly fond of you, Major, but he cares the world for her. If you care for her too, he’ll come around.”
“Good night, Major.”
The Thursday Quotables was originally a weekly post created by Lisa Wolf for her book blog Bookshelf Fantasy. It isn’t a weekly post anymore, not even for Lisa, but just like her, I still love to share my favourite reads on Thursdays and I still use the original template which included an excerpt.