England, 1920. Lady Eleanor Swift, adventurer extraordinaire and reluctant amateur detective, is taking a break from sleuthing. She’s got much bigger problems: Eleanor has two left feet, nothing to wear and she’s expected at the masked ball at the local manor. Her new beau Lance Langham is the host, so she needs to dazzle.
Surrounded by partygoers with painted faces, pirates, priests and enough feathers to drown an ostrich, Eleanor searches for a familiar face. As she follows a familiar pair of long legs up a grand staircase, she’s sure she’s on Lance’s trail. But she opens the door on a dreadful scene: Lance standing over a dead Colonel Puddifoot, brandishing a silver candlestick, the family safe wide open and empty.
Moments later, the police burst in and arrest Lance for murder, diamond theft and a spate of similar burglaries. But Eleanor is convinced her love didn’t do it, and with him locked up in prison, she knows she needs to clear his name.
Something Lance lets slip about his pals convinces Eleanor the answer lies close to home. Accompanied by her faithful sidekick Gladstone the bulldog, she begins with Lance’s friends – a set of fast driving, even faster drinking, high-society types with a taste for mischief. But after they start getting picked off in circumstances that look a lot like murder, Eleanor is in a race against time to clear Lance’s name and avoid another brush with death…
Death at the Dance (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible)
After falling in love with Eleanor Swift with book 12, and then book 13 (see here for reviews), I decided to go to the back catalogue of titles and catch up with all of Eleanor’s cases. Death at the Dance is the second volume in the series.
Eleanor is an unconventional Lady of the manor, having lived a rather bohemian existence prior to her uncle’s death, which led to her coming back to England in 1920 to take over the running of Henley Hall. Of course, she really doesn’t have to do anything to keep the house running because she has Clifford, her uncle’s valet, butler, and friend, who is rather Sherlock Holmes-like in his abilities.
While the mysteries in the Eleanor Swift books are fun to solve, it’s the backstory of Eleanor that dribbles out in these books that make them a must read. The characterization of the principals is also rather good. The secondary characters are also fully fleshed out, and getting to know them in another volume is great. Even though I know the trajectory of the relationship from reading the most recent volumes, it’s nice to read the beginnings of Eleanor and DCI Seldon’s relationship.
If you haven’t tried this series yet and you love cozy historical mysteries, I urge you to give them a try. They’re reasonably-priced on Kindle, which also makes them Bargain Sleuth-approved!
For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
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