It’s the mid-1950s. Hugo Hawksworth and his young teenage sister Georgia live at Selchester Castle in the town of the same name, the guests of the Selchester family. Hawksworth was in the special service (later called MI-5) during World War II. Injured in Berlin in 1945, he walks with a limp – and the injury sidelined his MI-5 career into a desk job, at a “special operation” near Selchester.
He’s already solved one murder mystery at the castle. The new earl of Selchester, an American, is arriving with his two daughters, and it seems that someone may be out to do the new earl in. And over a blizzard-like Christmas, a murder happens – but it’s one of the guests, electrocuted in a greenhouse.
In Elizabeth Edmondson’s A Question of Inheritance, Hawksworth finds himself once again finds himself simultaneously engaged in a castle murder, MI-5 politics, art stolen by the Nazis during the war and smuggled to England. He works closely with Freya Wryton, a Selchester niece who writes successful novels under a pseudonym and is keeping her literary activities secret from everyone.
The mystery has all the right appeals – a big castle, a conniving family, art works hidden away in the attic, some light comedy with the teenage sister (and the new earl’s teenage daughters), weather trapping the characters, several credible suspects, and action that keeps popping and driving interest to the end.
Edmondson has written numerous historical novels and mysteries, including a series about Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy. She has also written under the name Elizabeth Aston. Alas, she died this year at age 67 after a short battle with cancer, which means this second mystery is the last of the Hugo Hawksworth novels. And it appears that we’ll never know if Hugo’s relationship with Freya will move beyond partners in solving mysteries to the romance that is only hinted at.
A Question of Inheritance is a good, enjoyable mystery.
Photograph by Karen Arnold via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission. (The photo is actually of Arundel Castle, similar to but not the actual Selchester Castle.)