Title: A Study in Murder (A Victorian Book Club Mystery #1)
Author: Callie Hutton
Published on: 12th May 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery (Historical)
Bath, England, 1890. Lady Amy Lovell receives an anonymous letter warning her about her fiance – Ronald St. Vincent. St. Vincent is dabbling in something illegal – drugs, to be precise. Amy breaks off the engagement but St. Vincent isn’t happy about it.
Four days later, Amy’s maid announces the arrival of St. Vincent. Amy wasn’t expecting him so she asks her maid to take him to the library. As Amy reaches the library, her ex-fiance` is nowhere to be seen. She looks around and stumbles upon a dead St. Vincent with a knife in his chest.
The police are called in and Amy is now the main suspect (and their only suspect). Amy is not happy with the police investigation. And as a mystery author, she’s curious to know who killed her ex-fiance`. With the help of Lord Wethington, she decides to investigate.
I have read a couple of Historical Cozy Mysteries so far. My opinions here are mainly based on my reading experiences so far. A Study in Murder had a lot of potential. A mystery author writing under a pseudonym – only because women weren’t considered to be good writers back then; murder in the library; drug trade and addiction; a book club and everything Victorian. But, the story fell flat. I cannot really point out one particular thing I did not like about this story.
Plot to Story development
A dab of wry humor here and there makes a story interesting. But when the same wry humor is overused, it becomes a bore! St. Vincent might have been Amy’s ex-fiance but when people offer condolences, they refer to him as her fiance`. Every time, Amy corrects them. This sounded funny as the story began but Amy correcting the same set of people again and again – Nah, not funny at all!
The story starts on a good note, gets lengthy in the middle and has an abrupt ending. There was so much tension built up until the end and before you know, the perp is caught and the story ends. Also, the story could do well without some unnecessary details like – Amy behaved so-and-so because that is how ladies of her status are supposed to. Since this is a historical mystery, these kind of details are obvious, isn’t it? At least for me, it is; I didn’t want to be explicitly told why Amy behaved the way she did.
As the main character, Amy seemed okay. Being a renowned mystery author might not make her a good sleuth so I will not comment on it or relate it to what I am going to say next. Amy drew to conclusions a tad too soon. Like, she’s pretty sure that this particular person is the killer and she’s proved wrong. Maybe this was supposed to be a red herring but it didn’t work for me.
Eloise, Amy’s best friend makes an appearance in the first part of the story. As the story proceeds, it’s just Lord Wethington and Amy. I wish Eloise played a bigger role. A budding romance between Lord Wethington and Amy was the best part of this story. They reminded me of Tommy and Tuppence in The Secret Adversary. (The pairing, not the story)
I didn’t mind the ample number of characters here but I wish they were given some priority in the second half of the story.
As I mentioned before, the story ends abruptly. The identity of the perp was surprising. I wish Amy had dug deeper into the drug trade angle because as the story ends, it is pretty clear that it plays a major role. The story ends with a teeny-weeny cliffhanger – a murder, to be precise. It is pretty clear that Lord Wethington and Amy will solve it in the next book.
A Study in Murder is an okayish Historical Cozy. It didn’t give me a ‘historical mystery’ feeling. A tad lengthy at times but overall, it was an okay read. I cannot say I will look forward to reading the books that follow this series.
I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased opinion.