Saturday, February 4, 2023

ARC Review: Of Manners and Murder by Anastasia Hastings

Of Manners and Murder

Anastasia Hastings
Series: A Dear Miss Hermoine Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books (February 7, 2023)

Description: Of Manners and Murder is the first in the delightful new Dear Miss Hermione mystery series from Anastasia Hastings.

1885: London, England. When Violet's Aunt Adelia decides to abscond with her newest paramour, she leaves behind her role as the most popular Agony Aunt in London, "Miss Hermione," in Violet's hands.

And of course, the first letter Violet receives is full, not of prissy pondering, but of portent. Ivy Armstrong is in need of help and fears for her life. But when Violet visits the village where the letters were posted, she finds that Ivy is already dead.

She'll quickly discover that when you represent the best-loved Agony Aunt in Britain, both marauding husbands and murder are par for the course.

My Thoughts: This was an engaging start to a new historical mystery series. Violet is surprised when her Aunt Adelia heads off to the continent with a lover and leaves her in charge of answering the Dear Miss Hermoine letters. She also needs to look after her younger half-sister Sephora who is 16 and rather silly. 

While heiress Sephora is conducting a secret romance with the most perfect man, in her opinion, Violet is dealing with a questionable letter. A young woman has asked Miss Hermoine for advice about her new marriage. Something makes Violet anxious about the letter and when she travels to the village where the young woman lives, she finds that she has recently died. But was her death murder, and accident or a suicide?

Ivy Armstrong has left some clues in the form of newspaper clippings with certain people circled. As Violet investigates the various prospects, she finds many potential villains and some surprising allies. There is the vicar who loved Ivy from afar. There is the merry widow who might have poisoned her first husband. There is the local lady who wanted to buy some of Ivy's land and was rebuffed. There is the local doctor whose experimentation may have caused Ivy's mother's death. And there is the husband who has a very questionable and mysterious past.

Meanwhile back in London, Sephora engages in risky behavior to locate her missing love as she follows advice given in a letter from Miss Hermoine. Luckily, she's rescued by a young constable who is beneath her social and romantic notice.

I enjoyed this story. I liked the Victorian setting and the fact that Violet was a more modern woman while Sephora was clinging to attitudes of the past. While I solved the mystery rather before Violet did, it was still an enjoyable journey with lots of clues to ponder and interesting characters.

Favorite Quote:
"Yes. In fact, William died only a month after Gerald arrived in Willingdale." Simon shook his head. "Such a terrible tragedy. William was a robust man and though he was older than Edith, he was certainly not in his dotage. How he mistook rat poison for the sugar for his afternoon tea is a mystery."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh - you are the second blog I see this title reviewed. I am glad as I have been eyeing the audio on NetGalley. I think I will request it this week.


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