Friday, May 22, 2015

What I Read in December Part VII . . .

What I Read in December Part VII . . .

Murder at the Brightwell (Amory Ames Mystery, #1)Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver -- Historical  Mystery

Amory Ames married the handsome, charming Milo Ames after a whirlwind courtship. Five years of putting up with his constant flitting about and flirting, Amory isn't sure how she feels about Milo or what to do about it. When her former fiancé, Gil Trent, shows up asking for help, she readily accepts, wondering "what if?" Gil wants Amory to talk to his sister Emmeline and convince her not to marry the roguish Rupert Howe. They head off to the seaside to the Brightwell hotel, where a bunch of acquaintances are gathered for a holiday. They're really not in the same class as Amory and Gil but they all seem to know each other somehow. When Rupert ends up dead, the police are convinced it was murder. Amory starts a little investigation of her own and when Gil is accused of the crime, she's convinced he didn't do it. She KNOWS him and KNOWS he couldn't but what about the mysterious argument she overheard? Who saw Gil on the terrace just before Rupert was killed? Could one of the guests be the killer? Amory is determined to find out. When Milo shows up unexpectedly, Amory has mixed feelings. She enjoys his kisses and lovemaking but she's hurt by his actions. When he turns up in all the places she's investigating, she has no choice but to allow him to help solve the mystery. Unless he's the killer...?

Mystery-wise this plot is pretty good. It moves slowly though and doesn't get to the unputdownable part until late in the story. There are any number of suspects and no real motive. I figured out the identity of the murderer really early in the story. It seemed fairly obvious, even without a known motive, because it's a novel and the murderer is always someone no one will ever suspect. There are some humorous reflections on what happens in mystery novels and how this is real life for Amory, not a novel. That's about all that's funny in this book. The period description is limited to fashion and a reference to the stock market crash once and then later another period reference. I kept forgetting this was supposed to be the 1930s and set in Britain. It could have been Los Angeles or any seaside resort. The story also lacks the witty verbal banter of the Thin Man movies to which this novel is compared. Miles has some charming bon mots but that's about it.

I didn't much like any of the characters in this book. The secondary characters are boring and forgettable. I felt sorry for Mrs. Hamilton and cared about her slightly but not a whole lot. I found Amory a little annoying. She couldn't make up her mind about Miles and she was willing to pretend to be having an affair with Gil just to pay him back. She always assumes things about him but admits she doesn't really know him. Her investigations aren't as amusing or interesting as Georgie's in the Her Royal Spyness series, which this book is also compared to. Amory lacks Georgie's ditzy but earnest personality. She's older and more hardened to the realities of life. Miles is a charming rogue and I expect he has hidden depths but nothing is ever fully explained. The couple has chemistry and enjoy making out and connubial bliss (All is fade to black/implied) but don't talk about anything.

If there is a sequel I would probably read it but I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped.

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