Sunday, April 30, 2017

Grounds for Murder: Review

Grounds for Murder (1995) by Kate Kingsbury is the sixth book in the Pennyfoot Hotel series which features Cecily Sinclair, innkeeper and sometime amateur detective, and is set in the Edwardian era. This particular episode finds the hotel full of rumors of gypsies living in the woods near Badgers End (home of the Pennyfoot). Cecily is pretty busy--organizing the annual Guy Fawkes Ball held in the ballroom of the hotel and preparing for an influx of new guests. Belowstairs is pretty hectic as well. Gertie, one of the maids, is expecting a child any day now and is trying with intermittent success to train a new tweeny to help out. Doris is an odd girl--shy, clumsy and frail one minute and mouthy and strong the next. No one knows what to maker of her. And as soon as Doris assigned the job of chopping sticks, the Pennyfoot's shiny axe starts disappearing and reappearing like a regular jack-in-the-box.

Meanwhile, a gypsy girl is found murdered...beheaded with an axe. And another murder soon follows. Doris may be behaving strangely, but at least she hasn't expressed any prejudices against gypsies...unlike most of the current Pennyfoot guests. Cecily vows to stay out of this particular murder mystery--to the relief of her manager and right-hand man Baxter. But such vows are meant to be broken, especially when the innkeeper begins receiving anonymous notes begging her to stop "George" from killing any more gypsies. The only problem...nobody knows who George is. Cecily convinces a reluctant Baxter to help and then gathers enough clues to spot the killer's next target. But will they be in time to save a life?

Definitely not meant to be a fair-play, intricate mystery, this book (and the series) is firmly in the cozy camp. The recurring characters are, for the most part, likeable and the on-going story lines could certainly make for compulsive reading. Good reading for a rainy afternoon (which we've had plenty of lately) with a mystery that is solvable and not too taxing for armchair detectives.  ★★★

[Finished on 4/26/17]

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