Murder at the Mena House (Jane Wunderly #1) by Erica Ruth Neubauer #CozyMystery #Audiobook #BookReview

Egypt, 1926.Fiercely independent American Jane Wunderly has made up her mind: she won’t be swept off her feet on a trip abroad. Despite her Aunt Millie’s best efforts at meddling with her love life, the young widow would rather gaze at the Great Pyramids of Giza than into the eyes of a dashing stranger. Yet Jane’s plans to remain cool and indifferent become ancient history in the company of Mr. Redvers, a roguish banker she can’t quite figure out . . .

While the Mena House has its share of charming guests, Anna Stainton isn’t one of them. The beautiful socialite makes it clear that she won’t share the spotlight with anyone–especially Jane. But Jane soon becomes the center of attention when she’s the one standing over her unintentional rival’s dead body.

Now, with her innocence at stake in a foreign country, Jane must determine who can be trusted, and who had motive to commit a brutal murder. Between Aunt Millie’s unusual new acquaintances, a smarmy playboy with an off-putting smile, and the enigmatic Mr. Redvers, someone has too many secrets. Can Jane excavate the horrible truth before her future falls to ruin in Cairo . . . and the body count rises like the desert heat?

Murder at the Mena House (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible) (AbeBooks)

I was recommended this fairly new series a few years ago as something fans of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody Emerson series of cozy mysteries set in Edwardian Egypt. Naturally, I had to check it out and see for myself because I sorely miss Elizabeth Peters and her books. While I won’t say Murder at Mena House is an excellent book, it’s a good start to a series that I see with great potential.

Jane is an interesting character with a good backstory of an abusive husband who just so happened to die during the Great War. While Jane is determined to never marry again and has no interest in men, I do think the woman doth protest too much. Her eye is taken by a man named Mr. Redvers, who is introduced as a banker. However, as Jane gets to know him, she realizes his skill set is one that a mere banker could not have had.

After Jane becomes the prime suspect of the murder of a young lady, she uses her wits to try to track down clues to the real murderer, with the help of Redvers. Her character does not have excellent sleuthing skills which is great because sometimes in mysteries the main character is implausible because they have many skills an expert sleuth would have. Redvers, on the other hand, seems to have a special skill set that makes Jane wonder what his real profession is.

Surprisingly, Jane doesn’t get around to touring the Great Pyramids of Giza until chapter 18 despite her hotel being right around the corner. There’s also visits to museum, camel rides, and an intrigue involving antiquities smuggling. The reader really gets a feel for life in 1920’s Egypt, and the descriptions of settings and clothes and such bring a much clearer picture.

The murderer turns out to be somewhat of a surprise to me, so well done, author! I’ve rated the book higher than average due to this, and look forward to catching up with Jane Wunderly in the future.

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