The Mitford Murders

Written by Jessica Fellowes
Review by Jeanne Greene

England, 1920. Louisa Cannon, 19, must leave London to escape her abusive uncle. When the Mitfords, a wealthy Oxfordshire family, hire Louisa as nursemaid, it seems like a miracle. Learning the needs and personalities of five sisters (newborn to age 16) is a pleasure—until she must accompany them to London by train. But when Nancy Mitford, 16, chooses a compartment where a murder took place and figures out what may have happened, Louisa, who is more afraid of her uncle than a murderous stranger, suggests telling the railroad police.

Stymied by the lack of evidence or witnesses, the railroad police are desperate for assistance, even from two amateurs and, indeed, strategic sleuthing helps break open the case.

This is Louisa and Nancy’s first investigation but not their last; The Mitford Murders is the first in a series. Although Fellowes authored the companions to television’s Downton Abbey, her Mitford characters suffer by comparison and the plot, which ambles at times, lacks cohesion. Happily, The Mitford Murders has been optioned for a television series, which will doubtless flesh out the written word.