Poisoned Pen Press, Dec 2003, 24.95, 330 pp.
Every time the Earl and Countess throw a house party, somebody prominent gets murdered and the whole affair becomes a media event. Lord and Lady Burford have not sponsored a social event in their Carolean mansion Alderley in over six months, but when a distant relative asks, they agree to have the reading of a will read in their home and have the heirs stay overnight.
When the will is read Clara Saunders is furious that she is left with only 100 pounds and she believes that the other beneficiaries conspired against her. She threatens to reveal their dark secrets before retiring for the night. Hours later, she screams; when the houseguests go to investigate, they find Claire smothered to death. Since the alarm was already set, and there is no evidence of an intruder, the killer must be one of the guests. The police have to discover who had a secret they would kill to keep quiet.
James Anderson has written another fantastic who-done-it that takes readers in Great Depression England inside a comedy of manners who-done-it. The characters (police, suspects, and servants) are eccentric in an endearing way and readers will hope that the killer is not somebody they like. Fans of British closed door cozies will want to read this delightfully funny historical mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner