Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.
I have been overly eager for the release of the third book in Catherine Lloyd’s Kurland St.Mary Mystery series. I loved books one and two: Death Comes to the Village and Death Comes to London. Book three, Death Comes to Kurland Hall is due out in November. If you like cozy historical mysteries, I recommend you dash out and get the first two books.
The detecting couple in these novels comprises 1) a "managing" female, Miss Lucy Harrington, daughter of Kurland’s rector who has raised her siblings since the death of their mother. She’s also had her hands full with her self-centered father. And 2) the lord of their little village, Major Kurland, a war hero who was badly injured fighting Napoleon. He’s still rather grumpy about the whole thing and hates being physically limited by a bad leg and a somewhat crippling fear of horses. They’ve solved two murder mysteries in the past and grown very fond of one another in the process. But each is wary of letting the other know just how fond.
Immediately following the wedding, the irritating Mrs. Chingford is found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Is it another murder or an unfortunate accident?
Much as Kurland and Lucy would like to dismiss it as accidental, (especially as no one seems too broken up over her death), there are too many inconsistencies to let it go. And so, they are off again in detective mode.
The plotting of the mystery is solid, with clues ferreted out and false leads to keep the tension high. It isn’t too hard to guess who the villain will be, but having the detectives discover all the connections takes time, and it’s charming to go along for the ride. The romance proceeds in fits and starts. In this third installment, the fighting and misunderstandings between the two was getting a bit wearisome. It was much more entertaining in the first two books. Now it seemed dragged out for the sake of dragging it out–particularly on Lucy’s part. She seemed to willfully fail to understand Kurland’s feelings and was almost petulant in baiting him. But since their slowly developing relationship is so integral to the storyline, it does make sense that they have to carry on as they did earlier, at least through the bulk of the book. And they do make progress!
The series remains compelling. Lucy’s no-nonsense approach to solving cases and her tenacity make her an appealing protagonist. I will certainly be reading the next in the series to see how their partnership plays out.