Friday, September 15, 2023

A Lesson in Murder by Verity Bright (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 7)


Publication Date: September 14, 2021

Length: 325 pages

I have to admit, I get excited when it's time to review another Lady Eleanor book. They are by far my favorite cozy mystery series right now. The husband and wife team publish four per year and so I read them in season.  I am already looking forward to book 8 that I plan to read over the Christmas holidays. This one is the fall book, coinciding with the start of school, so as a teacher it was a bit of extra fun. 

Lady Eleanor is going back to school. Her old boarding school that is. Asked to make a speech at St. Mary's she is honored and excited. Ellie enjoys walking the halls of her alma mater and remembering good times and bad. She was always the rebel student and while she is happy to see the more modern, progressive changes that have been made since she left, she is also acutely aware of the still prevalent manners and customs of the old guard there. 

Before she can make her speech though, her beloved former teacher, Mrs. Wadsworth is murdered in the school library. As everyone dashes off to see what has happened, Ellie finds herself caught in another investigation with dashing Detective Hugh Seldon and her butler Clifford who decides to stay and help her. In order to be present on campus and help the search for the killer, Ellie takes over as guardian of one of the houses of students who grow to appreciate her. Clifford and Gladstone occupy a house nearby which Clifford of course furnishes in his customary impeccable style. When the art teacher is also found dead, Ellie and Hugh know they are running out of time. Who is knocking off innocent teachers? And why? Ellie also finds a link to her long lost Mother in a former diary, adding a personal element to the case she didn't expect. 

Being the seventh book in the series I thought I would grow tired of the formulaic aspect of the stories. And yes, they are predictable in some ways: Ellie's internal dialogue, Hugh's resistance to their romance, Clifford's perfection, and the way everything wraps up in a nice neat package at the end. But that is why it is a cozy mystery after all. This one was not as exciting as some of the others for me in that the location wasn't very exotic and I thought the secondary characters were not as interesting. But it is still a notch above many of the cozy series I have read this year. The authors have created main characters that I love and have distinct, quirky personal traits that make me want to see what they are doing lately. Some of the cozies I read could take place anywhere, at any time and there is very little effort made to drop me into the era they claim to be set in. These books do a great job of making reference to the time period and I feel like the 1920's are threaded throughout. 

If you are looking to start with a cozy series I highly recommend these books. From the gorgeous covers to the people to the intricate cases (which are usually pretty hard to figure out) to the unique settings, they are a lot of fun. I certainly have no other series I've read seven straight books from in recent memory, so there must be something that makes them stand out. 

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