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Death in the Grand Manor by Anne Morice

Title: Death in the Grand Manor (A Tessa Crichton Mystery)

Author: Anne Morice

First published in 1970; republished by DSP on 5th April 2021

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Death in the Grand Manor is the first book in Anne Morice’s Tessa Crichton Mystery series. Republished in 2021 by Dean Street Press, Death in the Grand Manor is a fantastic series debut.

Meet Tessa Chrichton, an actress and the protagonist of this story. Her older brother Toby invites her to Roakes Common, rural England. Ellen, Toby’s daughter and Tessa are to spend some quality time with each other while Matilda, Toby’s second wife is busy prepping for the upcoming play.

When Tessa reaches Roakes Common, she learns Ellen’s dog is no more. The nasty next-door neighbors, the Cornfords, were responsible for the dog’s death. It becomes clear the Cornfords are disliked by all. Mr. Cornford is a nasty woman while her husband is an okayish chap. Mrs. Cornford attacks Tessa at the local pub (mistook her for Mr. Cornford’s latest muse) and Tessa is saved by a young and handsome man who calls himself Robin Price.

Days later, someone is presumed missing and later, their body is found in a ditch. Was it murder? Or, accidental death? Tessa is curious to know…

What a fantastic and enjoyable read! Be it the setting, the character portrayals, the mystery or the writing, Death in the Grand Manor is a promising start to the series.

Tessa is an actress and so is her sister-in-law. While her sister-in-law prefers plays, Tessa doesn’t mind live shows or films. There is a scene where Tessa is called by her agent, asking if she would be interested in a live show. Tessa readily agrees. The play is about computers and how they (might) affect human lives. This book was initially published in 1970 so it was fun to read the ‘predictions’. Have a look at the gist of the play :

It was set in the year two thousand and something, and the author’s comforting idea was that by then the computers would have taken charge of just about everything, from foreign policy down to bingo, with the result that Man had lost the power of self-expression and was reduced to conversing in grunts and loosely connected monosyllables.

Hmm, grr, hmph, uh, huh! 😀

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It is not until halfway through the story that we see the murder. Given this was a first in the series, I think character introduction took precedence in the first half and I ain’t complaining. The characters are likable and a tad quirky/funny. We do have a couple of humorous moments throughout and I thought this addition made the story enjoyable.

Coming to the mystery behind the murder, it was no secret that most of the villagers disliked the victim. This certainly means the list of suspects is long. Tessa discovers the ‘real identity’ of the handsome man – gosh, did I love this bit! When Tessa starts sleuthing, the above-mentioned ‘handsome man’ does not stop her from interfering – but asks her to be on guard.

The ending is mind-blowing. The twist at the end is unexpected and mind-blowing. Wow! What an ending! The identity of the perp is a total shocker. Death in the Grand Manor is a cozy mystery of sorts – not the kind we read in modern times.

Death in the Grand Manor is an entertaining and enjoyable mystery with a dash of humor and romance. If you are looing for a unique read, you might want to give this book a try.


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