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Murder at Merisham Lodge

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A mansion, a title and marriage to a wealthy Lord – Lady Eveline Cartwright has it all. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent her being bludgeoned to death one night in the study of Merisham Lodge, the family’s country estate in Derbyshire. Suspicion quickly falls on her ne’er-do-well son, Peter, but not everyone in the household is convinced of his guilt. Head kitchen A mansion, a title and marriage to a wealthy Lord – Lady Eveline Cartwright has it all. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent her being bludgeoned to death one night in the study of Merisham Lodge, the family’s country estate in Derbyshire. Suspicion quickly falls on her ne’er-do-well son, Peter, but not everyone in the household is convinced of his guilt. Head kitchen maid Joan Hart and lady’s maid, Verity Hunter, know that when it comes to a crime, all is not always as it seems. With suspicions and motives thick on the ground, Joan and Verity must use all the wit and courage they possess to expose a deadly murderer who will stop at nothing to achieve their aim… Murder at Merisham Lodge is the first in a new series of historical mysteries, Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate, set in the 1930s. The author, Celina Grace, is the creator of the bestselling The Kate Redman Mysteries and The Asharton Manor Mysteries, as well as several standalone thrillers.


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A mansion, a title and marriage to a wealthy Lord – Lady Eveline Cartwright has it all. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent her being bludgeoned to death one night in the study of Merisham Lodge, the family’s country estate in Derbyshire. Suspicion quickly falls on her ne’er-do-well son, Peter, but not everyone in the household is convinced of his guilt. Head kitchen A mansion, a title and marriage to a wealthy Lord – Lady Eveline Cartwright has it all. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent her being bludgeoned to death one night in the study of Merisham Lodge, the family’s country estate in Derbyshire. Suspicion quickly falls on her ne’er-do-well son, Peter, but not everyone in the household is convinced of his guilt. Head kitchen maid Joan Hart and lady’s maid, Verity Hunter, know that when it comes to a crime, all is not always as it seems. With suspicions and motives thick on the ground, Joan and Verity must use all the wit and courage they possess to expose a deadly murderer who will stop at nothing to achieve their aim… Murder at Merisham Lodge is the first in a new series of historical mysteries, Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate, set in the 1930s. The author, Celina Grace, is the creator of the bestselling The Kate Redman Mysteries and The Asharton Manor Mysteries, as well as several standalone thrillers.

30 review for Murder at Merisham Lodge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Although this novel is listed as the first ‘Miss Hart and Miss Hunter’ investigation, it soon became apparent that the characters had appeared in an earlier novella length story, “Death at the Manor: The Asharton Mysteries 1.” This was referred to several times and, even though this is obviously a stand-alone story, it would have been nice if there had been some mention about this on the product page as I would have preferred to have read them in order. The Asharton Mystery took place in 1929 an Although this novel is listed as the first ‘Miss Hart and Miss Hunter’ investigation, it soon became apparent that the characters had appeared in an earlier novella length story, “Death at the Manor: The Asharton Mysteries 1.” This was referred to several times and, even though this is obviously a stand-alone story, it would have been nice if there had been some mention about this on the product page as I would have preferred to have read them in order. The Asharton Mystery took place in 1929 and this story is set in 1930, with Joan Hart joining Verity Hunter in service at Merisham Lodge, the summer residence of Lord Cartwright and his family in Derbyshire. Joan Hart is to be undercook at Merisham, while Verity is ladies maid to Dorothy, step daughter of Lord Cartwright, whose mother, Lady Eveline, is his second wife. There is also Lord Cartwright’s son, Duncan, by his first wife, Lady Eveline’s son, Peter, who is slightly frowned upon as a wastrel, Rosalind Makepeace, Lord Cartwright’s secretary and, of course, a whole host of staff and servants. Verity and Joan met as children, where they were brought up in an orphanage, and obviously share a close bond. Joan is, refreshingly, resentful of being in service and, although generally cheerful, this is a realistic look at life as a domestic service. Although, when murder occurs, Joan and Verity begin to investigate, they have little time to discuss events, are often too bone tired in the evening to even discuss matters and often have to rush off to work. That said, often you wish they did have a little more time, so they could carry the story forward a little more quickly and there were less rumours and speculation and more investigating. The police presence is in the intelligent Inspector Marks and it might have been useful to have seen things more from his perspective, to help create a little more excitement. That said, this is an interesting look at murder in a country house, from an unusual perspective and I enjoyed the characters and setting enough that I will go back and read the original novella. Rated 3.5

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Robertson

    As always I really do look forward to a new story from Celina Grace. I enjoy her style of writing and the fact she mainly writes novella style books now. This one was the perfect length and subject for a day curled up on the sofa sheltering from the awful winter weather-a feel good, making-the-world-a-better-place mystery. It's compact and easy to follow with a few red herrings scattered along the way. After the awful murders at Asharton Manor in 1929, Joan and Verity have now moved onto a new ho As always I really do look forward to a new story from Celina Grace. I enjoy her style of writing and the fact she mainly writes novella style books now. This one was the perfect length and subject for a day curled up on the sofa sheltering from the awful winter weather-a feel good, making-the-world-a-better-place mystery. It's compact and easy to follow with a few red herrings scattered along the way. After the awful murders at Asharton Manor in 1929, Joan and Verity have now moved onto a new household. Joan is working in the kitchen (lots of chopping involved!) And Verity is a ladies maid. But murder seems to follow our intrepid amateur detectives wherever they go. I loved the first of The Asharton Manor series (there are 4 in total) and I think the reason it was my favourite, was the pairing of Joan and Verity. This novella reads like an old fashioned murder mystery and is a fabulous intro to Celina Grace if you haven't read her books before. I am part of her early reader group and it is always a thrill to get the next copy of her book sent to me as she writes a smooth and interesting plot with characters you like and care about. I hope this isn't the last we see of this crime fighting duo. I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer

    Review: MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE erby Celina Grace (Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate Book 1) Readers of Celina Grace's Asharton Manor Series will delight in her newest series: Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate. In Book 1, MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE, kitchen worker Joan Hart and lady's maid Verily Hunter, enduringly best friends, are reunited in service at Merisham Lodge, after the events at Asharton Manor. Joan, who loves to read and dreams becoming an author, also has a curious and observa Review: MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE erby Celina Grace (Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate Book 1) Readers of Celina Grace's Asharton Manor Series will delight in her newest series: Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate. In Book 1, MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE, kitchen worker Joan Hart and lady's maid Verily Hunter, enduringly best friends, are reunited in service at Merisham Lodge, after the events at Asharton Manor. Joan, who loves to read and dreams becoming an author, also has a curious and observant nature. When a murder occurs, she sets out to discover the culprit, while the police look at likely suspects. Adventure and danger ensue. MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE is a warm historical English cosy mystery, set in the 1930's.

  4. 5 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    Joan Hart is an under cook at Merisham Lodge belonging to Lord Cartwright and his family. She was lucky to get the job after a disaster at her previous place of employment. Joan's more vivacious friend Verity helped her to obtain the post and the friends are happy to room together. All seems to be going OK until Lady Eveline's estranged son Peter shows up looking for money. When Ver finds Lady Eveline dead in the library, she enlists Joan's help. The inspector remembers the pair from a previous Joan Hart is an under cook at Merisham Lodge belonging to Lord Cartwright and his family. She was lucky to get the job after a disaster at her previous place of employment. Joan's more vivacious friend Verity helped her to obtain the post and the friends are happy to room together. All seems to be going OK until Lady Eveline's estranged son Peter shows up looking for money. When Ver finds Lady Eveline dead in the library, she enlists Joan's help. The inspector remembers the pair from a previous investigation and asks for their help finding clues that may seem insignificant. As staff Joan and Verity can gossip with the belowstairs family and as ladies' maid to Lady E's daughter Dorothy, Verity can move around the house and chat with her employer. Will they know the clues when they see them and will the friends have the courage to speak out? This mystery was OK. I liked the country house setting, it reminded me of Downton Abbey. I didn't like the narration style. Joan is very matter of fact and relates the story as it happens. I think a third person perspective would have been better. I would have preferred more warmth and humor in the story as well. I also want to nitpick the titles. Lady Eveline-is she Lord Cartwright's daughter? Why no-she's his wife- so say so! Lady Cartwright is her title. It got very confusing with different people calling her different names. I also needed a family tree to figure out who was related to whom. None of the revelations really surprised me but I wasn't exactly positive who the killer was other than not a random insane person. I liked Verity better than Joan. Verity has a more vivacious personality and she knows how to use her charm to get what she wants. She never crosses a line though. Joan is more nervous and more reserved. She alludes to things that happened at her previous place of employment but not having read that book I was a bit confused as to why she kept bringing that up. There's also a subplot about a maid, Nora, and I felt very very bad for her. These things happened all the time and it upsets me every time I read about it. Upstairs we have Lord Cartwright, a wealthy industrialist who married into the nobility. He is uncouth and has a nasty temper. I don't think anyone would cry if he died. His son and heir has a more biting, caustic tongue, choosing to trade insults with his stepsister instead of bullying her. Lady Eveline isn't in the story much before she winds up dead. Verity says Lady E isn't the kindest of employers but the household is a decent one so she can't be that bad. Her daughter Dorothy manages to be slightly a cut above the average stereotypical debutante but she doesn't really show any character growth. She surprised me a bit so that was nice. The police manage not to be bumbling idiots in this novel. The Inspector is kind and sympathetic. He respects Joan and Verity's intelligence and asks for help. I liked that a lot and his kindness made this story different from the usual country house nobility mystery. I wasn't into this story enough to want to read more though. Kindle freebie at time of purchase

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ubah Khasimuddin

    Its a cute easy read, like a Downton Abbey extension but includes a murder and perhaps less upstairs intrigue. The story is told from cook's assistant Joan Hart point of view, when a murder occurs at the manor she works in; she and her best friend, lady's maid Verity, set about, albeit accidentally, to solve the mystery. I did have my suspicions of who was the killer and I got it about 1/2 right. The mystery is about 50% of the story the other half is more consumed with life as a servant in the Its a cute easy read, like a Downton Abbey extension but includes a murder and perhaps less upstairs intrigue. The story is told from cook's assistant Joan Hart point of view, when a murder occurs at the manor she works in; she and her best friend, lady's maid Verity, set about, albeit accidentally, to solve the mystery. I did have my suspicions of who was the killer and I got it about 1/2 right. The mystery is about 50% of the story the other half is more consumed with life as a servant in the 1930's. I have to give props to the writer in that she does a good job of dialogue and keeping the scenes authentic, as I imagine (I'm no subject matter expert on it), she could easily have written for Downton Abbey. I would recommend for anyone, not taxing on the brain, not depressing, great for a plane ride, on the beach, vacation. Also clean so older teen's can dig in as well.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chaitra

    Again something I enjoyed at the time of reading but can barely recall a month later to write this review. I admit that even reading the blurb and some other reviews, it brought nothing back to me at all, so I'm considering revising my rating. (Initially rated 3, now 2). Joan and Verity aren't the most engaging of characters either.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This is a very readable, immensely enjoyable, cozy mystery set in a great English country house between the Wars. The main characters are women in service, Joan Hart and Verity Hunter. Joan is a Kitchen maid / undercook and Verity is a ladies maid to the daughter of the Manor. The women have known one another since childhood when they were placed in the same orphanage, They have different skill sets and while Verity seems more educated it seems that Joan is actually more clever. The author does This is a very readable, immensely enjoyable, cozy mystery set in a great English country house between the Wars. The main characters are women in service, Joan Hart and Verity Hunter. Joan is a Kitchen maid / undercook and Verity is a ladies maid to the daughter of the Manor. The women have known one another since childhood when they were placed in the same orphanage, They have different skill sets and while Verity seems more educated it seems that Joan is actually more clever. The author does an excellent job of showing how hard life was for people in service even in the 20th century and the vast difference between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. When the first murder occurs an Investigator from Scotland Yard is dispatched. And of course there are several red herrings before the real murderer is discovered. As other reviewers have noted while this is described as the first book in the series there is reference to another murder that took place in a different series. Death at the Manor (The Asharton Manor Mysteries #1) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... Which will explain that story, I assume since I haven't read it. I think the Asharton Manor series is more of a gothic series so the spin off makes sense.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    This book reminds me of sitting by the fire, tea cup in hand, relaxing, and reading. It is a cozy read, indeed. There is murder, several in fact, but you never feel our two ladies are in real danger, to the end. There is a mansion, or huge country lodge, and both Jean, and Verily work there, as the help. The murder of the lady of the house, brings in the detective, and our girls start snooping. The second body appears, and the action picks up a bit. It all unravels very nicely, until Joan figure This book reminds me of sitting by the fire, tea cup in hand, relaxing, and reading. It is a cozy read, indeed. There is murder, several in fact, but you never feel our two ladies are in real danger, to the end. There is a mansion, or huge country lodge, and both Jean, and Verily work there, as the help. The murder of the lady of the house, brings in the detective, and our girls start snooping. The second body appears, and the action picks up a bit. It all unravels very nicely, until Joan figures it out. Nice , and sweet story , about two friends ,who just can't help sticking their ears to the door. They actually get a lot of investigating done, considering, they work from Sun up, to Sun down. we all know ,no one notices the help, in these mysteries. This is a pleasant read, but your heart won't go racing. There is no thrilling, edge of your seat murder mystery. The characters were well thought out, as well as the story. No sex at all, just referred to, very proper , in the telling.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    A very enjoyable mystery. I delighted in the viewpoint narration of cookmaid Joan Hart and her friendship with Verity Hunter. Their detection work is very realistically handled, carried on around exhausting workdays above and below stairs, and with hardly any privacy except when they are dropping with sleep. The solution is not as straightforward as it seems. I read it in one day and went right on to buy DEATH AT THE MANOR, a novella with the same characters. My favorite Historical Mystery New Re A very enjoyable mystery. I delighted in the viewpoint narration of cookmaid Joan Hart and her friendship with Verity Hunter. Their detection work is very realistically handled, carried on around exhausting workdays above and below stairs, and with hardly any privacy except when they are dropping with sleep. The solution is not as straightforward as it seems. I read it in one day and went right on to buy DEATH AT THE MANOR, a novella with the same characters. My favorite Historical Mystery New Read of 2018

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erth

    now i am hooked. This was such a great, easy and creative book. i was hooked after the first page. The characters were easy to fall in love with and follow, along with the story. the author made the mental visions so easy and vivid of the surroundings and the characters actions felt so real. i would highly recommend this author and this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    I like the style this book is written in, as a narrative from one of the main characters, Joan Hart, the 2nd cook in a 1930's manor, where several of 'them upstairs ' get murdered. Joan and her friend Verity, a ladies maid, seem attracted to crime having previously been witnesses to a murder in another book by the same author, so I guess that's the theme. This book is extremely light writing and has nothing to tax the readers brain, which suited me as I read it whilst being home from work ill.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This is a rather delightful murder mystery set in the 1930s and told through the eyes, ears and gossip of one of the servants. There isn't necessarily anything unexpected or standout about this book but the writing is pleasant and easy to read, flowing well without too much detail or excessive descriptions of who did what and when. This kind of put me in mind of those cosy Sunday afternoons watching Miss Marple and Midsomer Summer Murders.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    There just wasn't enough character development for me to care about what was happening.

  14. 4 out of 5

    ShanDizzy

    Interesting concept - crime solving duo of two maids. Not a bad way to pass a holiday off work. Though at times I found myself thinking "I'm ready to be done with this story." I'm not sure that I cared enough about the characters to read the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    A very enjoyable read set around the 1930's, a good plot and set at a decent pace, great holiday reading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Hammons

    Greed and money This is a stand alone book, but reading the first book may be helpful, as there are several references to it. I thought this was a pretty good story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    Nothing new The book is pleasant but nothing new in the mystery genre. If I am putting in the time to read a book I want to feel okay something g new. Or maybe the main characters are interesting, if the story is weak, sorry they are not.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josue

    Thoroughly enjoyed this read. I've been waiting for this story since the first of the Asharton novellas was published and I am very glad to see more of Joan and Verity. I think they are a great mystery team. Smart and active, but in a believable way. You don't ever wonder how they could do what they do within the confines of their social roles and their "real" jobs are never thrown to the side. This sometimes stretches believability in similarly set mysteries. But they seem real and down to eart Thoroughly enjoyed this read. I've been waiting for this story since the first of the Asharton novellas was published and I am very glad to see more of Joan and Verity. I think they are a great mystery team. Smart and active, but in a believable way. You don't ever wonder how they could do what they do within the confines of their social roles and their "real" jobs are never thrown to the side. This sometimes stretches believability in similarly set mysteries. But they seem real and down to earth. I also love Grace's writing style. Even though this is a historical mystery, the action moves with a very modern clip to it. You are drawn into action, it doesn't meander. I don't mind meandering historicals, in fact, I've made a study of reading them. But this is a fresh style and really makes for an exciting read, while still getting your upstairs downstairs fix. Highly recommend to anyone who likes country house, upstairs downstairs, or historical mysteries in general. I very much look forward to more in this series. This definitely had some potential in set up for giving us a cast of regulars and establishing an interesting arc. There is an Easter egg in one (or more?) of the Asharton stories about what happens later in Joan's life and career and I look forward to see how she evolves into that.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Sorry to say that this novel put into this genre with the voices it had, it just didn't work for me. There is cozy mystery, sure. And some of them are excellent when highly imaginative (like the de Luce girl chemist) but to me those people within cozy who-dun-its just have to seem real to make that entire world work. In this book the two protagonists didn't seem like humans in any reality of their thoughts and conversations. Flat, one dimensional women who were just basically their jobs (with so Sorry to say that this novel put into this genre with the voices it had, it just didn't work for me. There is cozy mystery, sure. And some of them are excellent when highly imaginative (like the de Luce girl chemist) but to me those people within cozy who-dun-its just have to seem real to make that entire world work. In this book the two protagonists didn't seem like humans in any reality of their thoughts and conversations. Flat, one dimensional women who were just basically their jobs (with some possible advance in position ideas stuck in) and they also used language that was ultimately and constantly repetitive. And the plot was not unique or original enough to sustain all of those lacks. It would have been a 3 star if the writing skill had been better. It wasn't. It's clear but it uses the same phrases, expressions and descriptive words over and over and over again. I wanted to buy her a synonym book by the middle of the read. This is not for me. I'm too spoiled on the quirky and original wit cozy stuff that is out there.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ginny

    A nice cozy mystery and quick read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kacper Nedza

    As always, Celina Grace's work is top notch. Murder at Merisham Lodge has an engaging mystery, deft plotting, and memorable characters. Of especial note is her empathetic, nuanced portrayal of life below stairs - whereas period shows like Downton Abbey can gloss over how tough life was for servants, Grace really portrays the drudgery and grueling work in a poweful way. The heart of this novel is with the servants, not with the glamorous upper classes. Highly recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Dale Keck

    kindle unlimited, first came to notice in The Asharton Manor Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1 - 4) but except for these {prequel in this set} the rest were so so or worse, as rated them as 4 set not really individually so individually was less than 3 really. Was giving the ones from this set a 3, but for different reasons; kept waiting for things to happen, and they either never did or were solved for the stupidest 'coincidences' or guesses or just put in as if someone had actually detected when had kindle unlimited, first came to notice in The Asharton Manor Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1 - 4) but except for these {prequel in this set} the rest were so so or worse, as rated them as 4 set not really individually so individually was less than 3 really. Was giving the ones from this set a 3, but for different reasons; kept waiting for things to happen, and they either never did or were solved for the stupidest 'coincidences' or guesses or just put in as if someone had actually detected when had NOT. Didn't help any, review wise, to have figured it ALL out, anyway, long before the ending, which in this case was #3 about the same way of 'fluff and filler' to actual page count AND THIS was by far the WORST of the WORST, writer needs dictionary, thesuarus, spell check, just to possibly use the right spelling of the right word and/or synonym and not use words that only sound like the right one but actually are and have the same meaning...some actual plot, to keep up with what was said/done in actual plot so not contradictory, had said in previous books that was giving a 3 because eh, but should have been a 2, nope, should have read them all then gave them all the 1 deserved. This is the first volume of the Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate historical mystery series, set in the 1930s. This boxed set features the servant sleuths Joan and Verity in the following three, full length stories and one 'prequel' novella, which introduces the characters: MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE (BOOK 1) A mansion, a title and marriage to a wealthy Lord – Lady Eveline Cartwright has it all. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent her being bludgeoned to death one night in the study of Merisham Lodge, the family’s country estate in Derbyshire. Suspicion quickly falls on her ne’er-do-well son, Peter, but not everyone in the household is convinced of his guilt. Head kitchen maid Joan Hart and lady’s maid, Verity Hunter, know that when it comes to a crime, all is not always as it seems. With suspicions and motives thick on the ground, Joan and Verity must use all the wit and courage they possess to expose a deadly murderer who will stop at nothing to achieve their aim… DEATH AT THE MANOR (PREQUEL NOVELLA) {also found as first of 4 set in Asharton Manor Mysteries Boxed 4 set} MURDER AT MERISHAM LODGE (BOOK 1) DEATH AT THE THEATRE (BOOK TWO) Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate: Volume 1 THE HIDDEN HOUSE MURDERS (BOOK 3) Death at the Manor (The Asharton Manor Mysteries Book 1) A Prescription for Death (The Asharton Manor Mysteries Book 2) The Rhythm of Murder (The Asharton Manor Mysteries Book 3) Number Thirteen, Manor Close (The Asharton Manor Mysteries Book 4) The Asharton Manor Mysteries Boxed Set (Books 1 - 4)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    In a hybrid of classic country manor mysteries, Upstairs, Downstairs-style class consciousness, and, since the story is told through the eyes of a servant girl, a cozy mystery, Murder at Merisham Lodge: Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate is a change of pace for my mystery reading. I’m not sure it’s a “flavor” which would keep me coming back frequently, but it’s a delightful snack. If the atmosphere wasn’t so serious, I’d almost expect Jeeves and Wooster to show up. But Fenwick is no Jeeves a In a hybrid of classic country manor mysteries, Upstairs, Downstairs-style class consciousness, and, since the story is told through the eyes of a servant girl, a cozy mystery, Murder at Merisham Lodge: Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate is a change of pace for my mystery reading. I’m not sure it’s a “flavor” which would keep me coming back frequently, but it’s a delightful snack. If the atmosphere wasn’t so serious, I’d almost expect Jeeves and Wooster to show up. But Fenwick is no Jeeves and Lord Cartwright, replete with stentorian voice and stern visage, is no Bertie. If one is looking for humor in this novel, one will have to be satisfied with the fact that one of the female servant-detectives is named Miss Verity Hunter. If “Truth Hunter” isn’t a cute name for a sleuth (however informal an investigator she is), I don’t know what would be. The mystery itself is rather pedestrian until a not-altogether unexpected wrinkle at the end, but the “cozy” aspect of the novel seems very enlightening. At least, a lot of it illuminated aspects of domestic service that I had not previously considered. I liked the description of “…her face in the neutral expression every good servant learns to wear. That expression masked a lot. Outwardly, the face says, ‘of course, sir,’ but inwardly boils a sea of rage and hate.” (Location 674) On another occasion, the narrator was observing her boss, the cook of the manor, and had a frightening thought. “I saw myself, twenty years from now, doing the same thing. I would be ‘Mrs Hart’ but I would not be married.” (Location 1325) I appreciated the servants’ perspectives in Murder at Merisham Lodge: Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate If there is a moral to the story, it may be when Miss Hart and Miss Hunter compare their lives with the wealthy, leisure class: “People aren’t designed to do nothing all day, are they? It does something to your mind, I think, to know that you’re absolutely useless, that you can’t even take care of yourself. No, it’s much better to have work than not have it. Really.” (Location 1166) This series is unlikely to become my standard fare in mysteries. Then again, I’m not really her target audience, am I?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    REALLY 3.5 FOR ME Joan and Verity have been friends since they were children in an orphanage. Now, Verity is a ladies maid for Lady Dorothy and Joan works in the kitchen as second in command in the same home. When the Lady of the House is murdered, Joan and Verity are reminded of a previous house where they were both involved in a murder investigation. This is the first book in a series, but there are many references to a past story which involved a murder investigated by both Joan and Verity. I enjo REALLY 3.5 FOR ME Joan and Verity have been friends since they were children in an orphanage. Now, Verity is a ladies maid for Lady Dorothy and Joan works in the kitchen as second in command in the same home. When the Lady of the House is murdered, Joan and Verity are reminded of a previous house where they were both involved in a murder investigation. This is the first book in a series, but there are many references to a past story which involved a murder investigated by both Joan and Verity. I enjoyed the story. There were not really many surprises for me, but the plot is well done. Joan and Verity are interesting young ladies. They are both intelligent and observant. Those qualities serve them well when they are looking for a murderer. As they go through the days doing their jobs, they are also asking questions and watching the other people in the house. What I did not enjoy. Maybe because of the time period, or maybe it is just the way Joan is, she dislikes the people for whom she works. She dislikes them very much. I do understand that the class system at the time in England was not something which made sense. It was based on the presumption that because of family background you automatically deserve respect. Yes, I get it really ridiculous, but after a time I felt ready for it to be over. I would have enjoyed the story more if there were fewer times when Joan internalized about the worthless people who had money. But, overall this is a fun mystery. The working conditions and situations for everyone in a long ago time are described well. I learned about food and cooking and what was involved in preparing meals on a daily basis. Ms Grace has created a time and place and atmosphere. She also has created a mystery which was entertaining.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    With 'Murder at Merisham Lodge' Celina Grace combines detailed information on life 'below stairs' (including delicious accounts of the meals for those 'above stairs') a murder mystery, two unlikely sleuths and a police inspector who accepts their help, with some elements of respect for their persistence and perceptive approach. Miss Hart works below stairs as assistant cook; Miss hunter is a lady's maid. For those familiar with Downton Abbey this novel relives some of those familiar scenes and r With 'Murder at Merisham Lodge' Celina Grace combines detailed information on life 'below stairs' (including delicious accounts of the meals for those 'above stairs') a murder mystery, two unlikely sleuths and a police inspector who accepts their help, with some elements of respect for their persistence and perceptive approach. Miss Hart works below stairs as assistant cook; Miss hunter is a lady's maid. For those familiar with Downton Abbey this novel relives some of those familiar scenes and relationships. Miss Hart recognises that by remaining in her position she can look forward only to being an unmarried 'Mrs Hart'; the butler's concerns about the two maintaining their positions is familiar territory; the relationship between lady and lady's maid is recognisable. perhaps it is the familiarity with these aspects of the novel that helps in accepting that Miss Hart and Miss Hunter could well take the roles they do in the investigation. At the same time, Grace depicts the women as moving outside their accepted roles in a society that, through class and gender is designed to keep them in their place - one well away from the work they do to bring the investigation to a successful close. The women are active investigators, while maintaining a semblance of servitude: their room is small and cold, they are tired from their long working hours; they are not free to talk and ruminate on their investigation at their will. Grace cleverly ensures that her protagonists' language and behaviour fits well into their accepted role and the depiction of them as investigators. This is a promising beginning to the series and I shall look for further investigations by Miss Hart and Miss Hunter.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Silvia Molinari

    Imagine a grand and rich mansion, an aristocratic family’s estate in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside. There is a sort of mystery in it, and it’s immediately clear to the young and witty head kitchen maid, Joan Hart, once she has her first glimpse of it. Life seems the one expected at that time for a young girl from an orphanage: a good but still very hard job in the kitchen, cooking and chopping, mostly imagining the life of those in the upper floors through quick encounters on the stai Imagine a grand and rich mansion, an aristocratic family’s estate in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside. There is a sort of mystery in it, and it’s immediately clear to the young and witty head kitchen maid, Joan Hart, once she has her first glimpse of it. Life seems the one expected at that time for a young girl from an orphanage: a good but still very hard job in the kitchen, cooking and chopping, mostly imagining the life of those in the upper floors through quick encounters on the stairs or while serving refreshments and tea. The unexpected murder of Lady Eveline Cartwrigh, which is apparently related to a stranger to the house, triggers in Joan and her friend, Verity, a lady’s maid, their natural instinct to investigation. The police, mainly in the person of Inspector Marks, is somehow driven to charge the scoundrel son, Peter, with the murder of the noble woman. But despite the obvious evidence, Verity can prove his innocence. The two girls, supposed to be blind and weak-minded just for being maids – become precious witnesses of the real intrigues of the family. Joan Hart will show a brave attitude and an aspiration for becoming a real detective, a talent which will become soon very clear to Inspector Marks and, more dangerously, to the murderer. An intriguing, well written mystery set in the 1930s which will keep you glued until the last page!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Colin Rochford

    Murder at Merisham Lodge by Celina Grace I really liked this little book. The atmosphere was accurate as far as I can tell having only a little knowledge of the era and conditions of the time. The characters made sense. The imagery was very, very nice.  For example: "I picked up my peeler and slowly begin to divest the potatoes of their jackets.”  There was one mistake that I think I might mention: “I pulled the blankets up to my chin, and laid there staring at nothing.” And we weren’t talking about Murder at Merisham Lodge by Celina Grace I really liked this little book. The atmosphere was accurate as far as I can tell having only a little knowledge of the era and conditions of the time. The characters made sense. The imagery was very, very nice.  For example: "I picked up my peeler and slowly begin to divest the potatoes of their jackets.”  There was one mistake that I think I might mention: “I pulled the blankets up to my chin, and laid there staring at nothing.” And we weren’t talking about eggs or chickens. General usage still tells us correct English would be lay in this case. It was an excellent read and kept me involved with both characters and plot, right up until the denouement, which was done in the Agatha Christie style. For me this was written in a way that might have been better suited to a more visual medium, as I lost some of the specifics of the involvement of a few the characters in the final exposition. I needed to see who was who and what was what. I know. Really?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This murder mystery is written from a totally different perspective. The main sleuths are the under cook and the ladies maid. Both have been together since they were younger. The narrative keeps referring to an early time when they were in service together in another rich household. Apparently the two young ladies Miss Hunt and Miss Hart had helped to solve a murder. Miss Hunter was in service at Merisham Lodge and managed to get Miss Joan Hart a position in the kitchen as second cook. As the st This murder mystery is written from a totally different perspective. The main sleuths are the under cook and the ladies maid. Both have been together since they were younger. The narrative keeps referring to an early time when they were in service together in another rich household. Apparently the two young ladies Miss Hunt and Miss Hart had helped to solve a murder. Miss Hunter was in service at Merisham Lodge and managed to get Miss Joan Hart a position in the kitchen as second cook. As the story proceeds the Lady of the house was murdered. As we go along we find that the former wife of the Master died suddenly in what was an accident when she fell down the stairs. joan would like to be a writer. When has a few moments she works on her writings. It is hard because she works very hard preparing meals for the family and servants under the tutelage of the head cook. But as another body shows up in the root cellar Miss Hunter and Miss Hart begin to do some digging. Miss Hunter remembers some facts that happened at the time of the first Wife's death. Who is killing the family members especially the wives of this gentleman. Will Miss Hunter and Miss Hart be able to help the police solve these murders. Read Murder at Merisham Lodge and find out.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cissa

    I really liked this- both as a well-written mystery, and because of its insights into the lives of servants in the 1930s in Great Britain. I am ever curious about what life was really like for ordinary people in all of the various cultures that have existed now and in the past. This novel had a perspective that, from what I know, nailed it- the introduction of tech like electricity, the loosening of standards because there were so many other employment options in the 1930s rather than going into I really liked this- both as a well-written mystery, and because of its insights into the lives of servants in the 1930s in Great Britain. I am ever curious about what life was really like for ordinary people in all of the various cultures that have existed now and in the past. This novel had a perspective that, from what I know, nailed it- the introduction of tech like electricity, the loosening of standards because there were so many other employment options in the 1930s rather than going into "service", etc. That being said, I think Merisham was understaffed. The mystery was handled well! Hart and Hunter were restricted from many options for sleuthing by their positions, but also took advantage of their positions to proceed. Both Hart and Hunter were realistic and interesting characters. The other characters in the book were also well-drawn, and while there were red herrings, there were also fair clues. I enjoyed this mystery a lot, and will likely read more in the series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Donn Headley

    This interesting but not very memorable detective story centers on two young women who are servants to a wealthy family and how they solve the mystery of multiple murders at the country estate. Both women are perceptive and intelligent, which, of course, the aristocrats never realize until the women start figuring out whodunit. Ironically, in a story where the lead "investigator" is a cook, the plot involves "so many cooks that they spoil the broth." The author describes (with pleasantly good au This interesting but not very memorable detective story centers on two young women who are servants to a wealthy family and how they solve the mystery of multiple murders at the country estate. Both women are perceptive and intelligent, which, of course, the aristocrats never realize until the women start figuring out whodunit. Ironically, in a story where the lead "investigator" is a cook, the plot involves "so many cooks that they spoil the broth." The author describes (with pleasantly good authenticity) the setting of the workplace and workday on the estate; somehow, the two women also find the time to solve the grisly murders. In that tension, the reader gets confused by wading through all the red herrings that pad the story, especially when a perceptive reader figured out the predictable main solution fairly early on. This mystery would have worked well as a novella, even a short story; as a novel it is convoluted and prolix.

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