A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery)
Photo-beautiful Julia Renshaw is set to wed businessman Gilbert Townsend on the Isle of Wight in the spring of 1920. Julia’s family estate holdings can no longer cover expenses, and they push her into this loveless union. Gil, forty years her senior, won’t last long, and she’ll soon be free and wealthy. Immediately after the wedding, Gil plans to swoop Julia onto his yacht and then far away for their honeymoon.
Gil disappears on the wedding night, the yacht remains anchored, and Gil’s body washes ashore. Julia admits they had a fight leading to a broken mirror and a nasty cut on her hand. Blood smears the yacht’s railing. The local police arrest her for murder and order all wedding guests to stay put.
Julia, in the local jail, can’t help herself. But her maid, Eva, and younger sister Phoebe get to work. They talk to everyone they can, secretly follow some, sneak back onto the yacht for clues, check Gil’s past, and find enough loose ends to throw many under suspicion. There’s Gil’s old war-time friend, an avaricious cousin, Gil’s sister, his personal secretary, Julia’s former suitor, even the wedding photographer.
This cozy mystery moves at a nice pace once the reader gets through the wedding (and becomes familiar with the many characters, including their royal titles). The dialogue rings true. The details of the clothes, food, the yacht and local hotel, the town and shore are well-presented but do not bog the story down. Plot surprises unfold to the last few pages. Fans of Maxwell will enjoy this fourth in the series and will look for the next one.