Saturday, August 29, 2020

ARC Review: Murder at Hotel 1911 by Audrey Keown

Murder at Hotel 1911
Author: Audrey Keown
Series: An Ivy Nichols Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (September 8, 2020)

Description: A hotel clerk prone to panic attacks turns amateur detective in this elegant and atmospheric murder mystery.

If you want to spend a night amid the luxury and charm of the early 20th century, book a room at Hotel 1911. You'll find 28-year-old Ivy Nichols behind the reception desk. The hotel is Ivy's only link to the family that abandoned her when she was a small child. Now, plagued by panic attacks, she pedals her sea-green Schwinn bicycle to work every evening, hoping desperately to hold on to her job.

When wealthy, imperious Ms. Swain arrives at the hotel and belittles Ivy, the young woman seeks consolation in the welcoming kitchen of George, the hotel's chef. Despite her tormentor's barbs, she dutifully informs George that Ms. Swain has a deadly allergy to shellfish. So when Ms. Swain collapses at dinner and dies, the police suspect that the chef made a tragic, inexcusable error. Desperate to save George's career, Ivy sets out sleuthing. She learns that numerous people in and around the hotel had motives to contaminate Ms. Swain's plate. Among them are Jeffrey Swain, the victim's son and heir; painter Rose Jewett; and British expat Hemal Sandeep.

Even after the police find traces of shellfish in George's kitchen, Ivy is determined to clear her friend's name. But the stress of the investigation, in a hotel filled with suspects, threatens to precipitate another terrifying panic attack...or something more deadly.

My Thoughts: Ivy Nichols is the night clerk at Hotel 1911. The hotel was once her family's home before all the money was lost. Since it was her mother's family and her mother disappeared when she was in Second Grade, Ivy is keeping her relationship to the hotel's former owners to herself. She would like to find out more about the family though since she believes that the mental illnesses that have plagued generations of her relatives had their start there. Ivy herself suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.

Ivy's best friend is the chef at the hotel. When he is accused of negligence for allowing seafood to contaminate the meal of a severely allergic guest who dies, Ivy is determined to clear her friend's name despite knowing nothing about being a detective.

As Ivy looks into the lives and relationships of the hotel guests, she find lots of suspects. The woman's son resents that his mother holds the purse strings and is stopping him from making what he sees as a great investment. Another guest was a school friend of the victim who wants to try to rekindle a relationship with her. Still another guest doesn't want the son's investment idea to be realized since it would totally ruin his plans for an adjacent property. Then there is the organic farmer who supplies vegetables to the hotel who would also be ruined if the son's plans are realized.

This was an interesting mystery with an interesting main character. It was nicely paced and the suspense built through the story.

Favorite Quote:
I gave her an emphatic yawn. "Uh-huh. Interesting. So, let me ask you about something really closely related to that.If someone dies from poisoning as opposed to experiencing a fatal allergic reaction, how would you know?

"That's not related at all to portable luminescence--"

"Oh, silly me.Well, since we're on the subject now--"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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