It is 1847. Charles Leighton, Viscount Danvers, is at the Ketteringham estate of Sir John Boileau, helping to celebrate the coming of age of Sir John’s son and heir, Jack. It’s quite a gathering, including a duchess and several other titled people. Then, at nearby Stanfield Hall, two members of the Jermy family are murdered by masked men with guns. Boileau, as county magistrate, must investigate, and Leighton helps him.
Suspicions quickly center on a farmer, James Rush. But Leighton isn’t convinced, even if Sir John and the police are. He knows that several people owed money to the Jermys, including Sir John’s son Jack. And Leighton saw Jack leaving with a rifle shortly before the murders occurred.
The investigation of the murders frames the narrative of A Most Inconvenient Death by Donna Fletcher Crow. It’s a Victorian period mystery story that includes a troubled hero (Leighton is still mourning the woman he was to marry), air balloon rides, long English celebrations at country houses that we associate with the 19th century, a wonderful dowager duchess who might give Maggie Smith some serious competition on Downton Abbey, and even a spot of romance.
|Donna Fletcher Crow
Crow is the author of some 50 books, mostly novels about British history. She has two other novels in the Lord Danvers series, Grave Matters and To Dust You Shall Return, and a second mystery novel series under the theme of The Monastery Murders. A Most Inconvenient Death was originally published in 1993 and republished in 2011 and 2017. Crow lives in Idaho.
The delightful thing about historical mysteries is that they’re never really dated. A Most Inconvenient Death is a Victorian era whodunit involving rich and poor, titled and common, money and debt, constant guessing as to whom the killer (or killers) might be, and one wild climactic ending.
Top photograph: the type of clothing style Lord Danvers would have worn in the 1840s. Courtesy the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.