Genre: cozy mystery
Meet Grace Wheaton, lover of history and mystery – both of which can be found in her hometown’s palatial Marshfield Manor…
Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, and letters are coming in daily from those claiming to be poor relations. The elderly, reclusive heir trusts no one but his aged curator, Abe. But when Abe is killed in a case of mistaken identity, the tide changes…
Although shaken by the murder, Grace Wheaton, whose lifelong dream has been to work at the manor, steps up to the challenge of assuming Abe’s job. But now some of the letters arriving for Bennett have taken a nasty turn, demanding millions – or else. When an uninvited stalker shows up at the manor and at Grace’s home, she and handsome groundskeeper Jack Embers must protect their dear old Marshfield. But to do this, they’ll have to investigate a botched Ponzi scheme, some torrid Wheaton family secrets – and sour grapes out for revenge …
Wow, I am glad I did not read this blurb before reading the book, as it really does no justice to the book. After devouring her White House Chef series, I needed more Julie Hyzy, so I am now diving into her “Grace” series. And this first book was a really nice start.
When her mother got ill, Grace moved back home to Emberstowne to take care of her. Now her mother has died, and left her with the giant house and a wash list of necessary repairs. When her fiancée found out that was all she got as an inheritance, he left. But did he leave with her wastrel of a younger sister? Grace decides she does not really want to know. Grace had no choice but to rent out some of the rooms, and she really lucked out there, with a nice gay couple who operate a local upscale wine shop.
She also found a job as assistant curator at the Marshfield Manor, a huge manor estate filled with art and other treasures collected by the owner and his ancestors. Bennett Marshfield still lives in the house, but part of it is opened as a museum. It also employs a lot of people.
Grace is one of the people trying to modernize the Manor, and how it is run, but Abe and Bennett are really old fashioned and rusted in their ways. But they did hire Grace, and they did hire a new security expert to upgrade the Manor. They sure have their work cut out for them.
While some big stranger is causing trouble in the tearoom, the Birdcage, Grace hurries downstairs to mediate. But while they are dealing with Kevin, someone else shoots Abe, who is waiting in Bennett’s office to talk to him. The local police is not used to dealing with murder, and they think this is just a robbery gone wrong. But nothing seems to be taken, and why kill Abe when the whole mansion is filled with valuables?
And who is sending Bennett those threatening letters? Is it someone who has suffered a big loss from the Ponzi scheme her exposed to the police lately? Grace is determined to help the police find out what has happened, and to earn her new place as the head curator now that her boss is dead. She still has to learn a great deal as she had just started working here.
I really enjoy Julie Hyzy’s writing style, so I was happy to dive into this second series. I was certainly not disappointed; I liked Grace from the start. She works hard, she loves her work, and the Manor has always been important to her family. As she will find out, more important than she could have thought. And now she has to deal with the police, who don’t seem to be all that competent, a lot of old timers who don’t want anything to change around the Manor, and to step into Abe’s shoes. Add to that a wannabe private investigator who keeps popping up, wanting to be hired by the Manor and being a total nuisance, life is not easy for Grace. Making a lot of decisions and getting to know all the members of the staff. Luckily, the chief of security is behind her, and Bennett is slowly starting to trust her. Until her gossip of a secretary spills the beans about what Grace just discovered in a very nasty way.
The murderer was a big surprise for me, I did not see that coming, and now I am very curious for the next book. I wonder about the relationship between Grace and Bennett Marshfield, if it will change drastically.
I also liked Grace at home, how she is dealing with the house and her new roomies. They are fun together. And perhaps there will be a love interest on the horizon, who knows. And the little bit I have learned so far, is that her ex fiancée and her sister deserve each other. I sure hope they won’t bother Grace too much in the future.
© 2014 Reviews by Aurian