By: L.C. Tyler
Publisher: Felony & Mayhem Press
Release Date: June 2011
Reviewed by Mary Lignor
Review Date: June 14, 2011
This is the third Ethelred and Elsie mystery but the first one published in the United States and I'm glad they thought of us. I've read many English, locked-room mysteries and this one is very well done. The two main characters are delightful and the story is first class.
Elegant Ethelred is a genuine English gentleman and mystery writer but, according to his agent, Elsie, his writing talent is slightly below average. Elsie, his literary agent, is short and cute and certainly not afraid to tell it like it is regardless of the company. Elsie constantly assures her client that he is occasionally ambitious enough to be at least a second-rate mystery writer. She is constantly on him to sit down and begin a new mystery (Ethelred writes under three pseudonyms, one of them a woman) and Elsie is anxious for her percentage of the profits. This could be known as the partnership from hell but, the participants seem to get along very well with each other and have been known to solve crimes together (The Herring Seller's Apprentice and Ten Little Herrings).
In this book, the third outing for L. C. Tyler's eccentric amateur detectives, we are faced with a locked-room mystery. There follows a cast of possible villains who are the original mirror images of a British Country House mystery that's really much like Agatha Christie.
Ethelred has been invited by Sir Robert Muntham, formerly known as "Shagger", an old pal from university days, to a fancy dinner party at Muntham Court. He asks Elsie to come along and although she is hesitant (Elsie remarks when they get to Muntham Court, "Make sure we are well positioned to make a quick getaway if your friends turn out to be really boring.") Before they get to the dessert course their host has made a small speech and a very dramatic exit from the dining room. Sir Robert is found shortly afterward strangled in his library on the other side of a locked door. The grieving widow insists that Ethelred investigate the death. Elsie, of course, butts in and they go merrily onward awkwardly finding a slew of clues that make no sense whatsoever. There are also some witnesses who are not very truthful and mix up our Ethelred and Elsie as they are trying to solve this purely English mystery.
Quill Says: This is a great English mystery and will remind you of the Gilded Age even though it is set in the present day. Readers will swear they are at a gloomy country house in England with a bunch of "snooty" people, as Elsie calls them. So, get ready to laugh along with Ethelred and Elsie and thoroughly enjoy this gem.