Farewell Blues (Lady Adelaide Mysteries, 4)

Written by Maggie Robinson
Review by Tom Vallar

The Dowager Marchioness of Broughton is in gaol, accused of murdering her paramour, the Duke of Rufford, in their suite at the Ritz. Lady Adelaide cannot abide seeing her own mother portrayed as the society scandal of 1925, so she enlists her dead husband’s ghost Rupert and the dashing Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter (on leave from Scotland Yard after injuring himself in their previous adventure) to clear her mother’s name.

On the surface, both the marchioness and the duke appear to have led lives of boring fidelity, although rank can allow appearances to deceive. The duke’s family closet harbors numerous skeletons, including the elopements of his daughter with an Austrian count and his son with a Black American jazz singer (the “Farewell Blues” of the title). Adelaide is stalked by the press, especially one enterprising American newshound who claims to be on her side of the story. When another member of the duke’s household dies and the singer disappears, it clears the Dowager of murder but doesn’t lead anyone closer to the truth.

Robinson portrays the time period genuinely and fleshes out the numerous characters admirably. The mystery is uneven yet satisfying in its conclusion, but the icing on this cake is the epilogue that sorts out the lives of the main characters just in time to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.