Wednesday, September 25, 2013
MURDER BY SYLLABUB, Kathleen Delaney
This is an Ellen McKenzie mystery set at an estate just outside Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Ellen has traveled across the country with her Aunt Mary because Mary's good friend, Elizabeth has called and ask for help. Elizabeth has seen a ghost in her house and someone, perhaps the ghost, has tried to kill her. Since Mary never goes anywhere, let alone fly that far changing planes, etc., Ellen and her new husband decide she needs to go along.
From the time they arrive, they are confused. They keep getting half stories and being interrupted by people they don't know. Elizabeth is newly widowed and now the owner of an estate which has a main house connected by passageways to guest houses on either side of it. She lives in one of the guest houses which she and her husband had completely remodeled, and she plans to fix up the main house in eighteenth century style to use as a place to give teachers an authentic experience which hopefully will enhance their teaching. It's a great idea, but apparently Elizabeth's ghost is determined it won't happen.
Meanwhile, her late husband's stepson is trying to lay claim to the estate so he can sell it off to developers. There is also the matter of Noah and his mother Mildred who have always lived in a house there but have no deed. They are descended from slaves owned by the original owner. Elizabeth had promised to give them title to their house but has apparently forgotten. If she loses the lawsuit, they will lose everything.
The story is a cozy mystery and occasionally drags just a bit as Delaney describes colonial furnishings and cooking. That feature of the book is very interesting, especially to a history buff like me, but someone else might not enjoy it so much. The characters are either endearing or outrageously funny. No one goes foolishly down into the cellar or out in the darkness alone, or anything other than what normal people would do in the situation. It's hilarious when Elizabeth, her sister-in-law, Ellen and Aunt Mary go to the main house to find the ghost. The four of them are scared to death and armed only with a cane and a flashlight - great scene that made me laugh out loud.
I really enjoyed this book. It was perfect after finishing a long nonfiction book and when I wasn't in the mood for more serious reading material.
Source: Publisher, through Partners in Crime Book Tours