Friday, January 22, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Death Comes to the Rectory by Catherine Lloyd

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Death Comes to the Rectory is the eighth and last book in the A Kurland St. Mary Mystery series by Catherine Lloyd. I’m sorry to see this come to an end, although, to be honest, I was beginning to wonder how on earth this couple could continue to have their important life events interrupted by the murders of friends, family, employees, and acquaintances. 

In this book, Lady Lucy Harrington and her ex-military husband, local magistrate Sir Robert Kurland, are entertaining family for the christening of their new daughter Elizabeth. While the relationship between the couple remains loving, respectful, and somewhat subdued, there is little left to develop as far as plot arc goes. In this novel, the most likely murderer is Lucy’s father, a rather unpleasant man who has never treated Lucy fairly, but whom she loves nevertheless. She’s in a quandary because it is Robert’s duty to investigate the murder and, if necessary, see her father imprisoned and tried. For once, she doesn’t want him to be impartial. And this leads to some old-married couple bickering which is not as much fun to read as the earlier fraught romance.

The victim is Lord Northam, who is married to Robert’s exceedingly nasty cousin, Henrietta. Henrietta’s mother (Robert’s aunt) has recently married Lucy’s long-widowed father (the most likely murderer.) It’s quite a tangle. Because of the christening, numerous other relatives are there, including Lucy’s uncle and his wife and their son. Her uncle is an earl and is supercilious and entitled. The son is a wastrel. That aunt is aloof but generally respectable. They are tangled up in the mess too, since the son owed a huge gambling debt to the dead man. And then there is Robert’s old military friend, Captain Coles, who has been named godfather to the baby. For some reason, he is present at all the wrong places at all the wrong times and can’t keep his stories straight.

As usual, the mystery makes for fun reading as the sleuthing couple digs around and tries pulling apart the threads of an increasingly knotted mystery. Rather than no suspects, there are far too many. The reader is pulled along to grow suspicious of first one, then another, until the murderer becomes apparent and is revealed.

This is a lovely cozy historical mystery series from beginning to end. I recommend starting with book one: Death Comes to the Village.

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