A Deadly Endowment
Lady & Lady’s Maid Mystery, Book #7
By Alyssa Maxwell
Author Website: alyssamaxwell(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
To make ends meet, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, have decided to open up Foxwood Hall to guided public tours. Not everyone is pleased about it–even to the point of committing murder…
The lean times following the Great War continue to require creative solutions for England’s noble class. But Lady Phoebe’s proposal to open up the Renshaw estate to guided tours for additional income strikes many in the family as a “vulgar enterprise.” Phoebe’s grandfather, the Earl of Wroxly, however, reluctantly concedes the necessity.
Their first tour group consists of members of the Historical Society, a magazine writer, and a flock of students. It’s a large group for Phoebe, her sister Amelia, and Eva to manage, and when the widow Arvina Bell goes missing, Eva goes in search of her–only to find her in the library, strangled with a silken drapery cord.
The schoolchildren are promptly sent home, but the members of the Historical Society–many of whom also wandered off at times–remain for interrogation. There is also, curiously, a framed photo missing from the library. As the police hastily zero in on a suspect, Phoebe and Eva weigh the clues. Does the crime have to do with rumors of hidden treasure at Foxwood Hall? But they must make haste to solve the widow’s murder–before someone else becomes history. (Goodreads)
Lady Phoebe and her Lady’s Maid Eva are at it again in this seventh installment in the series. A Deadly Endowment is full of murder, snobbery, blackmail, secrets, and theft and is sure to please fans of historical mysteries.
Since the end of WWI, the nobility are finding it harder and harder to stay afloat; their way of life is becoming a thing of the past. In an effort to monetarily help her grandparents, Lady Phoebe and Eva decide to open the family home up for guided tours. Of course, even prepared as they are, they find themselves overwhelmed during their initial tour trying to corral village children on field trip, the local historical society members, a magazine writer, and Arvina Bell, who is doing research for a book about manor houses in the area. When Arvina is found strangled in the library, Phoebe and Eva know they must investigate since the chief inspector has jumped to conclusions and arrested Arvina’s son. Their investigating unearths the dark side of the historical society leading to more murder and danger for the intrepid pair. To further complicate matters, Phoebe’s older sister Julia leaves home out of fear for her infant’s safety but they promptly disappear.
I always enjoy my time with Lady Phoebe and Eva, and A Deadly Endowment is a welcome addition to the series. These characters have grown over the course of the series, and I love the optimistic, thoughtful adult Phoebe is becoming. She and Eva make a great sleuthing team, but I think Eva is the stronger of the two. Eva’s relationship with policeman Miles is endearing and moving along nicely, even if it is at a snail’s pace. Julia’s side story rounds out the book nicely, but I still do not love her. I understand the pressure she has felt as the oldest grandchild, but still…. Grams continues to be the vigilant Victorian dowager-like character, and I adore Grampapa. Though difficult, his slow acceptance of change and the emphasis on his ancestors in this tale make him quite human and wonderful. As younger sister Amelia and brother Fox get older, I hope we see more of them. New addition to the family, a terrier named Mr. Fairfax, is delightful. The members of the Historical Society are pretty much all awful with the exception of Dr. Bishop. They are snobs with much to hide (Dr. Bishop has secrets of his own, too) whose lives and livelihoods depend on appearances.
The mystery is complex and keeps readers guessing until late in the book. As Phoebe and Eva weed through the suspects, each clue revealed complicates matters and leads to even more questions. There are plenty of clues though, with a fair number of red herrings, which make for interesting reading throughout. And, of course, there is danger to be faced at the climax of the story.
I liked A Deadly Endowment and hope there are many more adventures featuring Lady Phoebe and her loyal maid Eva.