Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

deathfair.jpgAn ancient grudge turns to murder in a quiet English village, 1817.

Book 4 in the Regency series finds the spirited rector’s daughter Lucy Harrington and her protective fiance Major Kurland preparing to marry. While judging vegetables at the local fair, Lucy warns him to be diplomatic in his choice of winners. His refusal leads to a storm of outrage among the villagers, who are furious when the verger at the rectory wins.

It isn’t long before Lucy literally trips over the verger’s dead body in a tragic accident. Lucy grows suspicious when they discover a cursed charm by the body and they soon realize that the death was actually murder. While trying to uncover the killer, Lucy must deal with the unpleasant cook who shares her father’s bed, and the frustrating delay in her nuptials. The village’s darker side begin to surface and the couple themselves are placed in grave danger as another body is found.

The murderer’s reasoning is somewhat weak and the couple lose a little of their previous fire, but it’s a light, enjoyable read.

Thanks to NetGalley for the 30-day ebook loan.

Death Comes to London by Catherine Lloyd

deathlondonEqual parts London romance and cozy mystery, inspired by Austen. 

The main characters in Death Comes to London are echoes of Austen, with outspoken yet sensible Lucy (Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood) and sweet yet emotional Anna (Jane Bennet, Marianne Dashwood).

The second book in the series, Lucy and the perpetually grouchy Major Kurland were obviously involved in a murder earlier. Now Lucy and her sister are headed to London so that Anna can marry well, while Major Kurland comes to reluctantly accept a baronetcy. The reader is soon enveloped in a whirl of ballrooms and society dinners, disrupted by the death of a disagreeable old lady, the Countess of Broughton, and the poisoning of her grandson Lt. Broughton.

The suspects are an interesting assortment. Lady Bentley who planned to sue the countess for stealing her jewels; the jilted Miss Chingford (an old enemy of Lucy’s) who wanted to marry the grandson Lt. Broughton; the troubled younger grandson Oliver who vanishes after the murder. Since Lucy’s sister Anna and Lt. Broughton were becoming greatly enamoured, there’s a faint suggestion that Anna could have done it.

It was very obvious who the murderer was early on, so the interest became in seeing how they would catch the murderer, who would die next, and whether Lucy and the ‘hint-of-Darcy’ Major would finally become an item. The murderer was unmasked with 4 chapters remaining, but the ‘real’ climax of the book is later when Lucy’s wealthy uncle demands to know the Major’s intentions.

Although the mystery was not the strongest I’ve read, Lucy is a compelling character and I’m looking forward to trying book #3.