*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and to Emma Welton of damppebbles blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: London 1927
Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch. Adding to the tension in the house a neighbour has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder? A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park’s May Day celebration awakens Evelyn’s sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own.
With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.
In the Lady Evelyn mysteries I have discovered a beautifully written, classic-style cosy mystery of the kind I love. The Golden Hour is the fourth book in the series but can be read as a standalone story (as I did) quite easily. Personally, I would recommend reading the series in order (and intend to go back and do so) in order to get the full benefit of the character development and origins.
Lady Evelyn is an engaging protagonist; brave, quick-witted and with a sharp sense of humour, and her various family members and friends avoid stereotypes by being complex characters with flaws, motivations and impulses of their own. I really enjoyed the tense relationships between Evelyn and her relatives, and how these developed in unexpected ways as the story progressed. This is definitely the aspect which would encourage me to read the previous books to find out more of the nuance to their history.
The plot is quite complex, encompassing a multitude of suspicious characters with a plethora of potential motives and at times I became quite as confused as the bewildered sleuth! This helped to keep momentum and to keep me guessing, as the unfolding story was a fairly long one with a slow pace and a split focus on the crime investigation and family dramas.
I was reminded very much of the ‘golden age’ of literary whodunnits, with nods to Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, P. D. James and the like, with its rural setting, gentle pace and aristocratic amateur investigator. Yet the author still touches upon some serious modern issues too, with musings on the after-effects of war on the human psyche, and on the changing roles of women in society.
Personally I loved this story, and would highly recommend it to any cosy mystery fans who enjoy a sedate and dignified pace and an intricately intriguing mystery.
Four feet now move along the path; two leisurely and two slowly, furtively, unrhythmic in their gait, stalking, preying. The rustle of a bush to hide behind, the quick dart towards a tree might tell of this new arrival. However, those who are happy rarely fear. Those who are good, rarely anticipate the evil lurking within another.
The sun touches the lowest peak, resting, it seems, upon that precarious perch.
A sudden start.
Only two feet leave the glen. Two feet and their owner with blood dripping from trembling hands.
– Malia Zaidi, The Golden Hour
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour for more great reviews and content (see the poster below for details)!