A medieval house, a dead body and some rather suspicious chocolate fudge? Call for Lady Swift!
Autumn, 1920. Lady Eleanor Swift, accidental amateur detective and retired explorer, is determined to take a break from investigating murders. So when a local politician dies suddenly at an elegant dinner party at Farrington Manor, she tries her hardest not to listen to the raft of rumours around the village that he might have been poisoned by the fudge. It’s the anniversary of the disappearance of her beloved parents and she’s promised herself not to get mixed up with any more mysteries. She isn’t sure they’d have approved.
But when she arrives home to discover that Mrs Pitkin, the kindly cook from Farrington Manor, has been dismissed without wage or reference because the police consider her a suspect, Eleanor knows she needs to act. If there was a murder, then she needs to track down the culprit and clear Mrs Pitkin’s name.
Accompanied by her faithful partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog, who has the best nose for sniffing out bones in the country, Eleanor sets out to find the killer. And when another body turns up and she finds poisoned fudge in the victim’s house, Eleanor knows she’s on the right track. But can she sort the truth from the lies before she becomes a witness to another murder – this time rather closer to home?
A Witness to Murder (Amazon US) (Audible) (Amazon UK) (AbeBooks Used Book Marketplace)
I’ve been making my way through the Eleanor Swift books since discovering them late last year. I’m currently up to volume 3 (see my other reviews here), A Witness to Murder. The great thing about the Eleanor Swift series is that it’s much like my beloved Nancy Drew mysteries: you do not have to have read any of the other books in order to enjoy the mystery. Each book is a standalone novel.
There are constants with the books, though. The ever-faithful bulldog, Gladstone, up in years, but not in the ability to sniff out clues, and the just as faithful former valet and butler of Eleanor’s uncle, now her butler, Clifford. The household staff is also very protective of Eleanor, and these minor characters add charm to this cozy mystery series.
This time around, a local politician dies at nearby Farrington Manor, and the cook, Mrs. Pitkin, is the prime suspect. When Eleanor finds out she’s been dismissed without wages or reference, she knows she needs to help solve the murder. Somehow Eleanor also finds herself running for MP on the stance of women’s rights. I had to laugh at this wrinkle, for if there’s anything I know about Eleanor Swift, it’s that she’s not malleable enough to be a politician.
I just love the British dry sense of humor that Eleanor and Clifford have, and the careful plotting by the authors. There’s always a chance in the books to ruminate over the clues, which helps the reader and Eleanor solve the mystery.
I’m not a fan of Lancelot Fenwick-Langham as the subject of Eleanor’s romantic interest, mainly because I’ve read the most recent books so I know how their relationship turns out, although neither do I think she’s worthy of D.I. Seldon, who at least has some maturity and seems a more sensible partner. Quite frankly, knowing Eleanor’s background and current situation, it seems she could do a lot better than either of the two men.
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Hi Jennifer – thanks so much for the review! Most readers share your views on Lancelot (which is why he had to go) but not on Seldon 🙂 Who do you think she should team up with?
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Who says an independent woman has to team up with a man to help solve mysteries? Clifford is of great help, but I don’t necessarily think Eleanor needs another man aiding in investigating. Why can’t her sidekick be another woman? I don’t think readers come to the Eleanor Swift books for the romantic entanglements but for the intricate mysteries. Food for thought.
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Actually, her side kick was originally another woman! Her maid, who knew martial arts and… and then another well-known cozy writer bought out a series rather similar and the maid in the Lady Swift series had to morph into a butler 🙂
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Interesting! I have not stumbled upon the “other” mysteries and am happy to content myself with Eleanor’s back catalog and future mysteries. 🙂
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