Miss Beatrice Steele is obsessed with murder. Not committing murders, but solving the mysteries she reads about in the London newspapers.
Instead of perusing the society column like a proper young lady, Beatrice is fascinated by the adventures of Sir Huxley, the gentleman detective.
Beatrice finds no satisfaction in the approved hobbies for young women in the village of Swampshire, but she had not considered that a genteel person might solve crimes as a hobby.
Beatrice Steele was plump, with a cheerful gap in her front teeth and a white streak in her black curls, gained during a particularly competitive round of whist.
Curious by nature, Beatrice must keep her obsession with murder a secret. Otherwise, according to The Lady’s Guide to Swampshire, decorum would force such a “fallen woman” to leave the village.
Only a morally corrupt city would accept her, and once she made it to Paris, she would surely be robbed by a mime and left for dead.
While the 25-year-old Beatrice is the eldest of three sisters, the Steele family expects Louisa (not Beatrice) to receive a marriage proposal from a wealthy bachelor at the annual ball.
Eventually, Beatrice would have to grow up and become a respectable woman for the sake of herself and her family. This would likely occur next week, she always assured herself. Or, possibly, the week after.
Instead of a most agreeable evening at the ball, the guests (including Inspector Vivek Drake, the disgraced half of Sir Huxley’s detective agency), are trapped inside with a killer, as a storm rages outside.
Beatrice teams up with Inspector Drake – with Miss Bolton as chaperone, of course – to interview the guests and examine the evidence, but the killer continues to elude them.
“I shall instruct everyone to lock their doors,” Drake said. “And then…” He let out a sigh of frustration. “And then, I don’t know. We are no closer to determining the killer, and now they may kill again.”
The quirks and twists in the story make for a fast and fun read. I won’t spoil it by telling you more.
Not surprisingly, A Most Agreeable Murder has been named a Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly. If you belong to a book club, there is a reader’s guide with discussion topics, recipes, and rules on how to play whist.
While the manners-meets-murder mystery is Julia Seales’ first novel, the author is not a writing novice. With a bachelor’s in English from Vanderbilt University and a master’s in screenwriting from UCLA, she works as a writer’s assistant in television. TriStar Pictures has optioned the movie rights to A Most Agreeable Murder and Seales will adapt her novel for the screen.
See more Books to Read:
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No Time to Spare
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Once Upon a Tome
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