Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell
By Ashley Weaver
Published: October 14, 2014

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who regrets her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancé, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim. 

Murder at the Brightwell is a delicious mystery in which murder invades polite society and romance springs in unexpected places. Weaver has penned a debut in the tradition of Jacqueline Winspear.

My review:

Murder at the Brightwell appealed to me because of the setting (1930s) and the way it reminded me of a country house murder mystery (where one of the guests is a killer) only set in a hotel. I also liked the main character although sometimes she came across as naive. 

Amory is brave and cultured and a little devil-may-care. She is the kind of young woman who attracts male attention easily and indeed both her husband and Gil as well as other hotel guests are drawn to her charm and beauty. While Amory is intelligent she does jump to some wrong conclusions and take unnecessary risks. In that way she reminded me of the heroines of Deanna Raybourn's novels and her impetuousness just adds to the suspenseful feel of the story.

There is some romance as Amory deals with her old feelings and "what ifs" for Gil as well as her feelings about her husband and marriage. This worked well with the story since Gil is a suspect anyway and I thought Amory's interactions with Milo were fun and added a touch of humor. If the romance subplot was fairly obvious and predictable, the mystery was not.

I enjoy historical mysteries and I particularly enjoy mysteries when I can't figure out who the killer is. The murder was not easy for me to solve because we see everything through Amory's eyes and the author does a good job of making multiple suspects look very suspicious. I didn't know who the killer was till Amory did and that was kind of fun for a change.

Overall I really liked this historical mystery and I hope the author will write more. I would suggest this novel to fans of Deanna Raybourn's books, the Miss Fisher mysteries (I've watched the show but not read the Phryne Fisher novels), and Rhys Bowen.

Note: I received an ARC for review courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Thanks for the great review! I love Deanna Raybourn's novels, so I will have to check this one out. It seems like a perfect read to snuggle up with this winter and I love that it's set in the 1930s.

  2. I'm reading this one now, so it was nice to see this review. I really like the setting as well, and so far I'm really enjoying this book. I still have a ways to go but I think it's a very nice debut.


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