The Case at Barton Manor: A 1920s Murder Mystery (Mrs. Lillywhite Investigates) by Emily Queen #Review

I found this book by accident. It just appeared in my Amazon feed as a FREE book and I noticed the author’s name would fill a spot on my Alphabet Soup Author Edition Reading Challenge so I snapped it right up. It is no longer free but is available on Kindle Unlimited. 

The Case at Barton Manor: A 1920s Murder Mystery (Mrs. Lillywhite Investigates)
Historical Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – England
Independently published (April 15, 2019)
Paperback: 155 pages
ISBN-10: 1094741566
ISBN-13: 978-1094741567
Kindle ASIN: B07MM2PY74

1920’s London

Rosemary Lillywhite only wanted to be left alone to mourn her dead husband in peace, but when a desperate woman knocks on the door of her dead husband’s investigative office, she’s forced to make a choice: come out of hiding or turn Grace Barton away. Working cases with Andrew had been fulfilling, but she couldn’t solve this case by herself—or could she?

When Rosemary discovers that Grace is from the same village where her family lives and that they’re all invited to a party at Barton Manor, she knows it’s a proposition she can’t refuse. With her best friend, bright young thing Vera Blackburn at her side, Rosemary heads to the country and finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation.

The plot thickens when she’s forced to defend her brother Frederick’s good name and is confronted with romantic feelings towards handsome CID detective and old friend Max Whittington. Will Rosemary solve the crime before the murderer strikes again?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Still in mourning after the death of her husband, Rosemary Lillywhite is ready to make some changes. She had decided to close down her husband Andrew’s investigation office. She enjoyed helping him with his cases but can’t imagine solving a case on her own. Then Grace Barton arrives at her door seeking help. After hearing her story and realizing their families have a connection Rosemary agrees to attend an upcoming party at Barton Manor to see if she can assist Grace in some way.

Rosemary and her friend Vera Blackburn head to the country never imaging a little investigating would turn into a full-blown murder mystery with her very own brother Fredick as a primary suspect. The CID detective assigned to the case is Max Whittington, a friend of both Rosemary and her now deceased husband. It feels good to have him on the scene but she is not going to let him cart her brother away even if he does make her heart race just a bit. She will ferret out every clue to catch the real killer.

I did enjoy meeting both Rosemary and Vera. The characters are as different as can be but are best friends who have each other’s back. Due to the short length of the book, these characters were not as developed as I had hoped the main characters would be by the end of the story. We also don’t get to know any of the vast number of other characters in the book at all below the surface. It is hard to get engaged in character’s lives without more development. One thing we do know about Rosemary is that she adored her husband so I was surprised to have a romantic element introduced so quickly. I just can’t see Rosemary being interested in a relationship with Max but the set-up is there.

The murder mystery started out great with several suspects. Rosemary has many theories. Then a big clue unexpectedly falls into place setting up the reveal of the killer which just felt off. The whole thing wrapped up too quickly for me.

This story doesn’t read as a real 1920’s English mystery. I guess I expected more pomp, more splendor, more high-brow characters. That aside I was entertained by the story and the theme of a woman detective set in that timeframe is intriguing. It was a nice light-hearted little story. I may give the second book in the series a chance to see if the author ironed out any of the issues I had.

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About Emily Queen

Emily Queen is a writer of historical fiction, including the Mrs. Lillywhite Investigates cozy mystery series. She lives in Maine, USA with her husband, two children, three cats, two dogs, and too many books to count. (from Facebook)

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This book is from my private collection.