Gentler Downton Abbey Mysteries

Murder at Ashgrove House by Margaret Addison

I’m a big fan of the Golden Age mysteries – the ones featuring a private detective, a locked room or closed mystery set among the English upper classes, a set of clues, and a tidy ending. Hercule Poirot is the classic sleuth you think of with these, but I’m always on the lookout for more books in this sort of genre. There are several other series that were popular at the time – Inspector Alleyn by Ngaio Marsh, Albert Campion by Margery Allingham, Lord Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L. Sayers, Inspector Appleby by Michael Innes, Miss Silver by Patricia Wentworth. These were mostly written by women featuring a gentleman sleuth or an nice old lady.

These type of mysteries have never really gone out of style. They’ve been redone, satired, spoofed, reimagined and so on. With the popularity of Downton Abbey, these books are hot again. I found this series through Kindle Unlimited and decided to give it a try. I’m not crazy about them, but they were pretty good.

Rose Simpson works at a dress shop. A friendly coworker invites her to a country weekend at her aunt’s estate. Lady Lavinia took the job on a bet but now she’s finding it too much like actual work. Rose is happy to get out of the city. She’s hoping for a nice relaxing weekend. Instead, a snobby woman gets murdered and Rose is caught right in the middle of things.

I liked Rose, mostly, although she is a little too quick to scream and fuss when things go wrong. She seriously  needs to toughen up. She’s a bit too much of a Mary Sue right now – everyone who likes her is a good guy, and everyone who doesn’t is clearly a bad guy. But my main complaint about the book is that there is way too many recaps. The cops have to review the investigation, review the evidence, review the interview they just conducted. Then the suspect has to have some interior monologue for a few paragraphs as well. The POV skips from character to character with no way of marking the text so that the reader can tell when it changes. The second book at least had a line break in between, but this one has nothing.

The plot wasn’t anything complicated, but I did like the setting. I’m hoping that it will improve. I’m only giving it 3 stars, and I would cautiously recommend it for readers who like this type of book.


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