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Angela Marchmont Mystery #8

The Trouble at Wakeley Court

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When the Grand Duke of Morania learns of a plot to assassinate him, he sends his daughter Princess Irina to school in England, out of harm’s way. British Intelligence scent trouble and ask Angela Marchmont to investigate. But dark forces are at work, and when the Princess disappears in mysterious circumstances Angela must race against time to find her, before the throne falls and Morania is plunged into revolution—or war.

254 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 30, 2015

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About the author

Clara Benson

31 books289 followers
Clara Benson is the author of the Angela Marchmont Mysteries and Freddy Pilkington-Soames Adventures - traditional English whodunits in authentic style set in the 1920s and 30s. One day she would like to drink cocktails and solve mysteries in a sequinned dress and evening gloves. In the meantime she lives in the north of England with her family and doesn't do any of those things.

If you want to be the first to hear about new releases, and to receive a free, exclusive short story, sign up to her mailing list at clarabenson.com/newsletter.

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5 stars
274 (33%)
4 stars
331 (40%)
3 stars
181 (22%)
2 stars
22 (2%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Susan.
2,640 reviews598 followers
May 8, 2021
There is a history of mysteries from the Golden Age set in girl's schools, such as Agatha Christie's, Cat Among the Pigeons and Josephine Tey's Miss Pym Disposes. Although this is a modern mystery, the series is set between the wars and, as such, has a period flavour.

This is the eighth in the series and so the reader should be familiar with the character of Angela Marchmont who, when we meet her, is visiting her god-daughter, Barbara's, school, Wakeley Court. It appears that Barbara has been in trouble and is in danger of being expelled, which throws Angela into something of a panic. Angela has a busy social life and is due to go abroad; something she is not keen to do with a fourteen year old in tow and the thought of finding another school, willing to take Barbara, holds little appeal. When the Headmistress offers her a lifeline of allowing Barbara a second chance, if Angela funds a maths scholarship, she is grateful enough to ignore the expense and take the offer gratefully.

Later, Angela is invited to spend a weekend at the school and takes up the suggestion as her acquaintances from British Intelligence ask her to use her links to the school to investigate what is going on there. A foreign princess, whose life is in danger, has been enrolled at the school and there are fears she may be in danger. By chance, the Princess Irina is one of Barbara's friends and, of course, the plot against her unfolds once Angela arrives.

I like the characters of these books far more than the plots, which tend to be quite weak. Still, Angela is always fun to spend time with and this is an enjoyable addition to the series; although not one of the best. Rated 3.5.
Profile Image for Susan in NC.
878 reviews
April 17, 2021
3-3.5 stars - Another fun, cozy outing with Angela Marchmont, this time set at a girl’s school in Norfolk.

Angela is visiting her rambunctious goddaughter Barbara at the school, and trying to keep the headmistress from kicking her out for her various infractions. She’s a good girl, and bright, but high-spirited, and has been caught, among other things, running a betting book, and dropping eggs from the school roof onto passersby on the quad. The clever headmistress ropes Angela into funding a scholarship for a very good, but poor student, in exchange for keeping Barbara at the school.

Angela’s visit also allows her to help out British Intelligence, by checking on another student, a princess from a European country called Morania. The grand Duke who rules there is an enlightened leader, and his only child, Irina, will take over when he dies. There have been threats against the royal family, so there is concern for Irina’s safety - Angela is to help the undercover agent placed on the scene keep an eye on the girl while visiting her goddaughter. Sure enough, the grand Duke is shot in Morania, Irina is kidnapped, and the search is on...

This was fun, and pretty well done, as far as the international intrigue and betrayals, but seemed rather unbelievable that Angela, the amateur detective, figured out the big plot twist and saved the day. Also, several of the scenes felt more like a children’s school novel from the 1930s because of the “happy hockey sticks” schoolgirl vibe - especially noticeable as I listened to the audiobook, so the scenes with Barbara and her friends really felt almost YA. But it was fun and entertaining, and fast-moving, easy to listen to while knitting without losing the plot or dropping a stitch!

Profile Image for Damaskcat.
1,782 reviews4 followers
April 8, 2015
This is the eighth book in the Angela Marchmont series of mysteries. They were written in the 1920s but have only recently seen the light of day because the late author's family decided to publish them. Angela is a bit of a mysterious characters in that she appears to have done a lot and seen a lot of the world. She is well off financially and has a car and a chauffer but the reader knows very little more about her other than she is highly intelligent.

In this latest story she is trying to sort out the vexed issue of her Goddaughter, Barbara's education. Barbara is very much a rebel and is always falling foul of the rules at Wakeley Court and is currently on the point of being expelled in spite of her good academic record. At the same school is a Princess of a central European country and her life is in danger. One of Angela's friends is high up in the intelligence services and asks her to keep her eyes open when she spends a weekend at the school.

This is an entertaining story which might seem a little far fetched to some modern readers though I found it enjoyable. It is well written, the characters are well drawn and while the ploy may seem a little fantastic it is still well constructed.

If you like 1920s mysteries then give this entertaining series a try. They can be read in any order.
Profile Image for ShanDizzy .
1,027 reviews
October 26, 2017
Some of Clara Benson's descriptions of people make me laugh - "Augustus Welland...the English master was tall and handsome, and evidently very pleased with the fact...Within a very few seconds it became clear that Mr. Welland's chief interest in life was Mr. Welland."
Profile Image for Jill.
1,013 reviews
April 16, 2021
I felt this was just not up to standard of the last few books in this series. It read more like a YA book than a real mystery. The stereotype characters just didn't work for me. I had guessed the main plot from very early on, and the journey to the end wasn't thrilling. I will read on, in the hope that this book was just a hiccup in this author's writing.
Profile Image for Debbie.
368 reviews8 followers
August 30, 2019
Another excellent Angela Marchmont mystery! I know I keep saying these books remind me a lot of Agatha Christie's work, and I don't mean that as a plagiaristic or demeaning in any way sort of comment. Agatha Christie is, in fact, one of my favourite authors, and it's one of the highest compliments I could bestow upon any other author, in fact, to compare their work favourably to hers. So,that said, this book did remind me of Christie's Cat Among the Pigeons. There were similarities, that is to say, but also differences. A solid storyline and exciting climax and denouement!
I was excited that the character of Barbara was reintroduced, as I find her very entertaining, and William is also always a welcome addition to the mysteries.
I am anxiously awaiting Book #9, now that I have finished the series thus far!! (Also I peeked at the description of the soon-to-be-released ninth book on the author's website and I'm really eager to read it now!)
Profile Image for Clewis53.
81 reviews9 followers
July 30, 2015
a retread of Agatha Christie's Cat amongst the pigeons
Profile Image for Susan.
1,418 reviews
November 1, 2019
Angela's god-daughter Barbara plays a larger role in book #8 of the series. Wakeley Court is the school she goes to, and Angela is there to visit her. But a foreign princess, Irina, is a pupil at the same school, and they have been notified that she is in danger. When her father is injured in an assassination attempt, British Intel (Foreign Service?) shows up to help keep her safe and Angela is asked to help as well. When the princess disappears, apparently kidnapped, everyone goes into a panic. Then another girl, a friend of Barbara's, also disappears. But all the attention is focused on finding the princess, so Barbara and another of her friends decide to look for her. Things get pretty exciting by the end! This book was rather fun to read, very enjoyable, and had a few interesting twists, one of which I never saw coming. The different setting, the inclusion of Barbara, and meeting yet another Jameson, all added up to avoid the danger of a cookie-cutter plot (which often starts to happen in a long series.)
Profile Image for Scot.
956 reviews29 followers
August 11, 2018
Eighth in the series. Angela's audacious goddaughter Barbara goes to school at Waveley Court, and in this installment we get to see boarding school life for girls in the 1920s. Focus is very much away from Angela, more on power struggle and intrigue associated with a made-up Balkan state, Morania, so that the Grand Duke's daughter, Irina, a student at Waveley and a friend of Barbara's, finds her life threatened in a possible coup, and she disappears. Fans of The Belles of St. Trinian's will enjoy this romp, I suspect.
Profile Image for Jane Shibilski.
359 reviews2 followers
August 30, 2020
It was a worthy read, but a bit transparent. Maybe I’ve read too many mystery novels, but I figured this out about halfway through. To be honest, I figured out the concept, just not the exact persons involved. As the book progressed, it became very obvious who was the princess. The book began slow, but then zipped along in the second half. I’ve found this to be characteristic of almost every book so far in the series, they start slow in developing the plot, but finish up fairly exciting. This wasn’t my favorite Angela Marchmont mystery, but was an entertaining read.
2 reviews
October 18, 2020
Attics, Antics, and Angela

The introduction of Angela’s god-daughter into the antics of students at an exclusive girls’ school provide an opportunity for intrigue of a different sort. There are many twists and turns in this fast paced international mystery. Marchmont fans will enjoy it cover to cover.
764 reviews2 followers
April 1, 2019
School girls & international intrigue

Angela travels to Wakely Court to see to her unruly goddaughter Barbara, where she becomes embroiled in a scheme of international intrigue, double agents, kidnappings & murder. A most excellent adventure!
88 reviews
December 2, 2020
A touch of déjà vu but entertaining nonetheless

As other have mentioned all the 'twists' in this book were rather easy to guess partially because one at least was similar to an Agatha Christie. That the book still managed to keep me entertained is no small feat!
Profile Image for Louisa Jones.
482 reviews
December 14, 2021
This was more enjoyable read in the series. Maybe because of the international intrigue. I gave the book a three stars because I had figured out most of the conspirators within the first couple of chapters.
944 reviews5 followers
May 27, 2022
This is my 8th book in this series and I'm enjoying these cozy/not so cozy mysteries with a main character who is a amateur investigator who is just naturally good at solving mysteries and is fearless.
Profile Image for Nicole Shames.
13 reviews
July 9, 2018
Another great story! I love this series! I will be sad when I get to the 10th book, as that is the end... :(
290 reviews
September 23, 2018
Another great, fun murder mystery, with even a princess involved. I am almost done with the Angela Marchmont series.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,347 reviews7 followers
March 7, 2019
Now this was just silly. A foreign princess is sent to school in England, there is an assassination attempt on her father back home, and a kidnapping attempt on the princess. No why believable.
145 reviews1 follower
October 24, 2019
Angela Marchmont

This is the eighth book I have read!!!! I love how the stories flow and how the plot thickens. I am ready for the next one.
Profile Image for Amanda Jane.
1,181 reviews7 followers
July 23, 2020

Unlikely characters and a plot that was neither new nor clever enough to work. Unfortunately it's easy to see who is to blame from very early on.
Profile Image for Valerie.
310 reviews
February 9, 2021
The beginning of this volume in the series seems as though it belongs in another book, but it eventually settles down and was as enjoyable as the others.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
166 reviews
May 10, 2022
Not the best in the series. It was touch and go on whether I could get through the set up chapter to read the rest of it.
1,254 reviews28 followers
September 24, 2016
What would writers in the "Golden Age" of British mysteries have done without the Balkans? When they simply could NOT write another hum-drum English murder and try to whip their readers into a frenzy about which of the dull, stolid Englishmen (or women) actually got up enough energy to kill someone, they could always drag in some people from exotic Eastern Europe - the home of romance, intrigue, and general craziness. No need to try to explain WHY Alexia and Feodor and all their kin are happily engaged in bizarre, endlessly complicated plots. The reader understands that people from the Balkans just DO stuff like that. Something in the water?

This is a lovely period piece - set at a prestigious, expensive girls' boarding school at a time when educating young gentlewomen was serious business. In pre-WWII England, only the "lower classes" sent their children to local schools. The "gentry" scraped together the money for fees and bundled the kids off to boarding schools, where they would be strictly segregated from the opposite sex. The large girls' schools were as venerated as Eton or Harrow, and the head mistresses were celebrities - brilliant women of sublime confidence who were usually unfazed by anything.

And what is our Angela (divorced and happily childless) doing at a girls' school? Remember her God-daughter Barbara from THE TREASURE AT POLDARROW POINT? Well, she's back and just as much trouble as ever. This time she's gotten herself kicked out of Wakeley Court School and Angela has gone around to see if there's any chance of getting her back in. Of course, Angela isn't standing on high moral ground here, having been a real trouble-maker in her own youth. Still, she gives the stately headmistress a "golden handshake" (Brit for a polite bribe) and talks sternly to Barbara, who actually seems to be improving a bit. She's a good natured kid and extends friendship and protection to some girls who are having trouble fitting in, including the rather stiff Princess Irina, who has been sent to England for education and to keep her safe. She's the heiress to the throne of Morania and (naturally) the target of all sorts of plots and machinations.

When Irina is kidnapped despite the best efforts of Angela and a British Intelligence undercover agent, all hell breaks loose. Angela's handsome driver William is pressed into service and at one time or another everyone on the school staff looks like a possible villain. Angela even gets to show off some of her skills from her days as a WWI resistance fighter. Frankly, the Moranian business is stagy and unbelievable, but the mystery itself is well-plotted and the cast of characters is very fine. It's written with Benson's usual sly humor and (while not my favorite book in this series) is still a great read. Benson had a wonderful talent for getting inside the British mind and turning stock characters into real people.
Profile Image for Rosemary.
246 reviews4 followers
July 9, 2015
Another charming entry in Clara Benson's unfolding series about amateur detective Angela Marchmont.

In this installment, Angela is summoned to Wakeley Court, the private girls' school in Norfolk where her god-daughter Barbara is a student. Though no biological relation to Angela, Barbara is cut from the same cloth: she's on the verge of being sent down for running a gambling operation, taking bets on whether she and the other girls can trick their teachers into saying improbable words in class: "Someone…managed to get Miss Finch to say 'fandango,' canoodle,' and 'interfenestration' all in one lesson."

Angela manages to keep Barbara in the school, but finds herself back at Wakeley Court again when British Intelligence asks her to return to keep a discreet eye on another student, the Princess of Morania (a fictional Balkan nation). Morania's temperamental neighbors in Krodovar have hatched an assassination plot against the Princess and her father, the Grand Duke. Although Intelligence already has an agent on the scene, in the guise of the new Latin teacher Mr. Hesketh, as a single man he can't board at the school, so Angela is dispatched to be on site 24/7. When Angela remarks to Hesketh that "Teaching at a girls' school must be a quiet life for an Intelligence man," he replies, "A quiet life, so you call it? I take it you have never taught."

I found this particular book in the series slow to get started, although once Barbara appeared on the scene, things picked up. She's one of my favorite characters, and I was glad to see her reappear, after her introduction in the third book. _The Treasure at Poldarrow Point_.

The plot here also gets a bit ludicrous; even Hesketh grumbles, "Goodness, how these Moranians do like to make things complicated." The denouement relies on a lot of improbable circumstances; without spoiling anything, I'll just say that the Moranians' ideas about security would never work in these days when royals are celebrities and are constantly being badgered by the paparazzi.

Reading _The Trouble at Wakeley Court_, I found myself wondering more and more about the series' author, Benson, who wrote all of these in the 1920s and 30s, but never had them published. Benson's writing is so clever, and her plotting (usually) so good, it's hard to understand why she never wanted to share her creation with the world. This book makes it especially clear how meticulous she was about making connections between the separate entries in the series: developing recurring characters, slowly revealing Angela's backstory, playing with different tropes of the detective genre. These books are painstakingly crafted, and so much fun. I only wish Benson had lived to see how warmly they're being received by appreciative readers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews

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