The Mitford Scandal (The Mitford Murders)
This is the third book in the author’s Mitford Murders series set during crime fiction’s golden age between the wars and, of course, featuring the famous Mitford sisters and their circle. With such interesting characters at the centre of the story traveling across Europe and enjoying glamorous lives – attending parties, dressing in haute couture, drinking cocktails and flitting from Venice to Paris and back – this should be a thrilling and page-turning read, but somehow it just falls completely flat. While there are suspicious deaths, the author allows the tension to drop as they are dismissed as tragic accidents, and the action moves on often with big leaps in time.
There are some interesting moments as the lead character Louisa, now employed as a lady’s maid to Diana after a lavish society wedding to Bryan Guinness, is reminded of the huge social and financial gulf between herself and the girls she had watched grow up, as Diana blows hot and cold: a friend one minute, a mistress the next. The real problem, however, is that the pace never really picks up, and what should be a thriller full of allure and excitement ends up being rather dull. I had high hopes for this novel, so I was disappointed that they weren’t met. Louisa’s story as a woman keen to leave being a servant behind is the only really intriguing thread in the plot, and if the author had focused in on that aspect more, then the novel would have been much more readable.