I have already read and reviewed another book in this series this year. I was lucky enough to pick up the next two, which got significantly better in terms of storytelling.
I will discuss the two books individually. When I first started the series I had an issue with the lead protagonist. For someone who is purported to have travelled the world alone and survived, she was slow on the uptake and needed quite a few reminders from her butler to see her way through. With every passing book though, she is coming into her own. She may still be chaotic and the punchline at times by her butler, Jeeves style, but she puts in the grunt work and identifies the clues that crack the case(s).
The fair is a big deal in the town. Just like the mega winter celebrations Lady Swift planned, her role as the resident peer means a lot of ceremonial flag waving at odd events. This event is marred by a seemingly straightforward misadventure, but the widow thinks otherwise, and after a point, so does Eleanor. This is a very investigation heavy narrative with clues being painstakingly picked up and examined and witnesses rounded up. The next character to meet his end was a little abrupt in arrival and departure, but it was a minor point that I could ignore.
The conversations between the people at Henley Hall and the antics of the aged dog are littered amongst the investigation to lighten the mood and make it easier to read and enjoy!
This was my favourite book of the series, and the reason has something to do with the storyline itself and a lot more to do with my partiality towards Malory Towers books by Enid Blyton when I was in school. As is obvious from my previous statement, we have Lady Swift talking on Speech day to the current students of her old school. There is a significant amount of baggage that Eleanor carries about the reason she was there and the way she acted out. This trip helps her identify the source of her past hangups and move forward. She also sees some of her time there in a new light.
There is murder (or so only a few people think) at the school and Lady Swift, in her role as an amateur detective and an ‘Old Girl’, spends more time than she intends in her old dormitory. The school atmosphere, the good and the bad of having posh families, is explored in the background while the actual investigation takes place in full force.
Detective Seldon is unexpectedly on the scene, and Eleanor’s feelings have ramped up quite a lot in the last few books, to the extent that I think the next book might be focussing on a lot more than just a murder. The plot twist was unexpected, and although my entire focus was on enjoying the rapport between the girls and Eleanor, I appreciated the events that led to the eventual revelation.
This book definitely has me looking forward to the next in the series.
Although there are only a few facts carried forward from previous instalments I would not recommend starting the series at this point without the feel for the characters and their backstories.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my reading experience of this book and the others in the series.