Verity Kent is on her way to an engagement party on the island of Umbersea. Her late husband’s good friend Walter stood up for him when Verity and Sidney Kent were married. Even though Sidney had died more than a year ago, one of the far too many casualties of World War I, Verity feels an obligation to attend.
But that is not the only reason she’s going. She received a message alleging Sidney was a traitor and she is determined to discover the sender and the truth.
It’s a strange party. Rather than inviting family and a wide variety of guests, the men are all from Sidney’s fellow officers. As storms cut the party off from the mainland and the telephone wires are cut, guests are being picked off one by one. There’s very much an “And Then There Were None” feeling about the story.
Luckily Verity is not your usual British wealthy socialite. She worked for the Secret Service during the war, a closely guarded secret she never even shared with her husband. Yet the mystery letter-writer knows her secret, too, adding urgency to her need to discover the truth.
I liked This Side of Murder quite a bit. It is fair. We get the clues as she does, though there are surprises for her and for us. Lots of surprises.
This is going to be a lovely cozy series. The murders are discovered after the fact and offscreen without much attention on gory details. Verity is a bit of a feminist, impatient with the men all wanting to leave the women in the dark by explaining the absence of the murdered me as sickness. She is smart and capable and holds her own. The characters are not terribly complex. Nasty spiteful people are nasty and spiteful. Where characters are nuanced, the nuance is deception. This is probably the result of the more than a dozen characters required to have a pool of suspects in a Ten Little Murder Victims situation.
I am looking forward to more in the series. The World War I and post-war lady detective is a favorite them and I love the Phryne Fisher, Bess Crawford, Maisie Dobbs, and Vera Bradley stories. This is a welcome addition to a favorite subgenre.
This Side of Murder is the first in a new historical mystery series by Anna Lee Huber, author of the successful Lady Darby regency mysteries.
This Side of Murder will be released September 26th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.