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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Ask Me No Questions (Lady Dunbridge Mystery, #1)

Ask Me No Questions - Shelley Noble

I got an uncorrected advance reader copy at Bouchercon this year, but it was from a freebie table, meaning there is zero chance of bias.

 

Up front this is definitely an uncorrected ARC and I sincerely hope that someone not only corrects the grammatical and punctuational errors, but the huge, gaping plot error.

 

Briefly as possible:  Lady Dunbridge's friend's husband is murdered.  Lady D and friend find a hidden safe deposit box key in a safe, and checking the box they find thousand of dollars in cash, which they take out and hide.  At the denouement it is revealed that he had this cash with him when he died, that the murderer took it after shooting him.  Which would make it impossible for Lady D and friend to find it in his safe deposit box afterward. I mean, I'm pretty sure the murderer didn't kill him, take his money, and then return it to the victim's safe deposit box for the two women to find.

(show spoiler)

 

Those issues aside, it's not a bad read.  Lady Dunbridge is an interesting mix of traditionalist and modernist, in much the same way I'd bet a lot of women were at the turn of the century, just before WWI.  Her morality has left the Victorian Age behind, but her pragmatism has her actively searching for a new husband who can maintain her in the lifestyle befitting her Countess title.  That she decides to do that in America is a slight twist on an old theme. 

 

Some of the secondary characters are all written to be interesting in their own right, with Lady D's ladies maid being a downright lady of mystery with some mad and disconcerting skills.  Others are more cardboard prop-ish; either they have more development planned in future books (?) or they weren't meant to be more than props.

 

There's no romance, although the Countess is plenty interested, and there's heavy foreshadowing of mysterious men and sadly, a possible love triangle.   Nothing specific, just inferences that can be made from inescapable tropes.

 

The plot, other than the train-sized hole running through the end of it, was pretty interesting.  In a very weird coincidence, the book centered on horse-racing; the Belmont Stakes, specifically.  (I was completely unaware of this when I picked it up to read.)  It was an interesting story, and I loved the tie in with Doyle's Silver Blaze (which, towards the end of the book became Silver Blade, something I really hope they catch before publication).   It could have been a tighter story - it did drag a bit in the middle - but overall, it held my attention.

 

I'd probably read another one if it comes across my radar; there's enough here to show promise.

 

I'll use this book for my Melbourne Cup Day Festive Task, since it's been handed to me.  (Read a book about horses or a horse on the cover.)