1925 and Wychbourne Court in Kent is the place to be for the bright young things. And what could be more enticing that an evening of dancing followed by a ghost hunt. It all means plenty of work for chef Nell Drury, but she wasn’t expecting a dead body to add to her troubles.
The body in question belongs to a friend of the family, but it seems that he wasn’t as popular as some people thought. And it seems that he had a secret reason for attending the party, a reason that lured a large number of the guests there too. Nell finds herself enlisted by Inspector Melbray to help ferret out the secrets in the house, but when a second murder occurs, it seems that… brace yourself… Nell has an awful lot on her plate. No, hang on, I can do better than that… She may have bitten off more than she can chew? Sorry, it’s been a long week.
Amy Myers has written plenty of mystery novels since Murder In Pug’s Parlour in 1986, but this is the first of these Nell Drury tales, so I thought I’d get on at the ground floor with this series. It’s fair to say that it’s hardly ground-breaking, filling the cosy niche nicely. Nell is a well-constructed character, and the rest of the household staff are an entertaining bunch. The upstairs lot are a little less interesting, in part due to the fact that the cast is perhaps a little too large to give everyone enough air-time.
Plot-wise, again, there weren’t a great deal of surprises for me. For example, Nell starts off intensely disliking Inspector Melbray. Guess where that plot-line is heading… But there are some original ideas, including a very surprising one concerning the solving of the crime. Not quite sure what I thought about that bit – I know, I’m being vague, but spoilers and all that – but it makes sense. It just seemed a bit odd. And having read a lot of mysteries (no, really) the killer was a bit obvious.
But it was an entertaining read that kept me gripped, despite occasional flashes of Scooby Doo-isms, as Nell has a remarkably strange form of exclamation – she’s a chef, so they’re all food based. “Sizzling Swordfish!” “Crackling Cauliflowers!” “Suffering Stockfish!” and so on. I’m sure, dear reader, you can come up with your own to help out the author with the next book, so do leave them in the comments below.
Anyway, an interesting read with some colourful characters and a nice line in humour. Well Worth A Look. Many thanks to Severn House for the review copy.