Genre: cozy mystery
Civil War re-enactors have set up camp on the grounds of Marshfield Manor. The group is very believable, especially when the unrest spills out of the barracks and into the sumptuous mansion. Grace manages to settle a minor squabble, but loses the war when actor Zachary Kincade is found stabbed to death.
Jack Embers, the groundskeeper, falls under suspicion when he’s linked to the death of Zachary’s brother years ago. But there were others out for Zachary, actors who can be very convincing when the coveted role of “general” is on the line. Grace feels responsible for finding the murderer… and for the sweet tuxedo kitten, Bootsie, found on her doorstep. Can she come to the rescue of her friends without putting herself in danger’s way?
Grace’s predecessor Abe was a huge fan of re-enactment, and so he rented out a big part of the southern grounds to a Civil War re-enactment group. They haven’t even set up yet, when trouble arrives at the manor. Two ladies are determined to visit the grounds, although they have been told repeatedly that part of the park is off limits. But they are bent on visiting Zachary Kincade and make him pay for standing up their friend at the altar, in a very nasty way.
While Grace and her security team are still trying to get red of the ladies in a friendly manner, the man in question, and the General in charge of the re-enactment group arrives, only making matters worse, when on of the ladies tries to taser Zachary. The man laughs it all off, and tries to charm Grace, with no effect but giving her the creeps. And then Zachary spots Grace’s almost boyfriend Jack Embers and his younger brother Davey, and attacks Davey, yelling about him murdering his little brother. But it was Jack he was really after, he just got confused as Jack has changed in time, and Davey now looks exactly like his brother then. Grace wants to know the truth, but Jack does not want to tell her the old story, and walks out on her.
The evening gets only worse for Grace when she arrives home in a downpour, and gets even wetter while rescuing a kitten that has taken refuge underneath her car. Her two housemates arrive a little bit later, when Grace tries to coach little Bootsie from underneath the sofa with some cheese. They both fall for the kitten immediately, making plans on keeping her. But Grave wants to try and find her owners first, being sure they must be worried and missing her.
Early the next morning Grace is called by Marshfield security. Zachary Kincade has been murdered that night, and they need her to handle the press and the police. After last years struggle with Abe’s murder, the Emberstown police force has gotten reinforcements from an experienced female homicide detective from the big city, who likes to be called Tank. They still immediately try to jump to the conclusion that Jack must have been the killer ...
When no real progress is made by the police, Grace has no choice but to “help” investigate, she even sends her secretary out undercover with the re-enactment group. Frances is a born gossip, so if anyone can get to the truth about the undercurrents in the re-enactment group, it is her. But Grace really misses her on the job, now she has to take every call herself, solving the little problems that Frances keeps away from her so she can do her own job, managing the estate.
It seems that a relationship between Grace and Jack is cursed from the start, every time they make an appointment for that first date, something gets between it. And especially now, that Jack is not willing to share what happened with Grace, or to open up to her, I think she should just look elsewhere and forget about him. Not that I thought for a minute he is the murderer, but he just walks away from Grace and the help she can offer him.
Grace is also under a bit of pressure from Bennett, her boss and the owner of Marshfield Mansion, and probably her great-uncle, to come and live in Abe’s former cottage on the estate so he can look after her. In return, he will buy her old Victorian house from her, and renovate it. She just can’t keep up with all the repairs needed on her own, even though he gives her a generous salary. But Grace is not ready to give up her independence, or her two housemates who are dear friends. She knows that Bennett is probably lonely, but living with him and on his expenses, is not a solution she can live with. But how can she tell him without hurting his feelings?
The murder victim sure made a lot of enemies, so there are enough suspects to investigate. The real killer though, was a bit of a surprise, and the ending was suspenseful and very well written.
I like Grace as the main character, she is a really nice person, I love how she fell for the little kitten even though she is allergic, and how she interacts with her two gay housemates. They are very nice secondary characters, and they look after her, especially in a fashion sense that was fun.
I look forward to reading more of this series soon, and I am glad that I have two more books on my shelves, and the third will be released soon.
© 2014 Reviews by Aurian