Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Book Review: Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey

Pages: 304
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: November 26, 2019
Publisher: Berkley 
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When a dinner party turns deadly, the feisty Lady Cecilia Bates and intuitive cat Jack are on the case, in this first entry to an exciting new historical-mystery series.  England 1912. Danby Hall is the only home Lady Cecilia Bates has ever known. Despite the rigid rules of etiquette and her mother the Countess of Avebury's fervent desire to see her married off, Lady Cecilia can't imagine life anywhere else. But now, with an agricultural depression sweeping the countryside, the Bates family's possession of the hall is suddenly in peril.  A possible solution arrives in the form of the imperious American heiress Annabel Clarke. The Earl and Countess of Avebury are determined that Cecilia's brother, Patrick, will win Annabel's hand in marriage--and her fortune along with it. To help the lackluster Patrick in this pursuit, the Bates and their staff arrange a grand house party upon the heiress's arrival.  When a guest dies after sipping from a glass meant for Annabel, it's clear the Bates have a more poisonous problem on their hands than a lack of chemistry. As the scandal seizes Danby, Cecilia sets out to find the culprit, with help from Annabel's maid, Jane, and Jane's curiously intelligent cat, Jack.  After the poison that someone had stashed away inside the manor is discovered, Cecilia is left with two possibilities: Either a resident of Danby snapped and tried to kill the arrogant heiress, or the threat is coming from one of their guests, who would love to see the Bates family's decline become permanent."

While Danby Hall is a beautiful estate, it's upkeep is a difficult undertaking, which is the situation regarding most of the grand estates in England. There's only one way to save Danby and it's American money. Many of the British aristocracy married American heiresses in order to save their family's estate and that's the hope of Lady Avebury.  She hopes that she can arrange a marriage between her son, Patrick, and the American heiress, Annabel Clarke. When Annabel comes to visit Danby, they are hoping she will be enamored with its grandness and its history.  However, during a  dinner party, disaster ensues.  One of the guests, a famous world explorer, falls ill during the dinner party and dies. Everyone is a suspect, especially Patrick who has a laboratory filled with herbs, plants, and the like. When the Inspector starts questioning Patrick, Lady Cecelia Bates, Patrick's sister, gets concerned, because knows that Patrick wouldn't harm anyone.  Lady Cecelia forms a friendship with Annabel's maid, Jane, and together, along with Jane's cat, they figure out who is responsible for this horrific dinner party murder.  Having a friend like Jane, Cecelia is privy to the goings-on downstairs as well as the details surrounding the new footman.  Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey is a cozy historical mystery that's perfect for fans of Downton Abbey as well as Jane Austen.

Lady Cecilia is an interesting and unconventional character in Lady Takes the Case. She is already "out" in society, but hasn't had any offers. So, she throws herself into figuring out who is responsible for the murder of traveler, Hayes.  There are many suspects--Annabel, the new footman, someone else from downstairs or could it be.....her brother? It does raise a red flag that he was hesitant to get married to an American and also he has a laboratory where he does a variety of expeiments using various concoctions. Things aren't looking promising for Patrick, which is why Cecelia gets involved with the help of Annabel's maid, Jane.  Normally someone of Cecelia's social set wouldn't be involved with a lady's maid, but Cecelia marches to the beat of her own drum, which I appreciated.  

All of the secondary characters in Lady Takes the Case were a lot of fun. They were mysterious, interesting, and reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel.  I wasn't quite sure who the murder could be and enjoyed going along the ride with Cecelia.  This wasn't an edge of your seat murder mystery though; it was more of a cozy read that's perfect for the holiday season.  

The whole upstairs/downstairs vibe in Lady Takes the Case along with the great family estate is also similar to Downton Abbey, especially with the quest to find an American heiress in order to keep the estate up and running.  I think this new hysterical mystery series will definitely be a hit with fan the show.

So, if you like to cozy up this holiday season with a mystery that won't give you high blood pressure, but rather make it feel like you are watching your favorite Masterpiece TV show, I urge you to pick up Lady Takes the Case.  I look forward to book two as the ending of book one left me gasping!

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