Stevie Carroll's Reviews > Lady Takes the Case

Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey
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it was ok
bookshelves: reviewed-elsewhere

Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

I have a great fondness for stories set immediately prior to the First World War, with all the ongoing and upcoming upheaval that the setting involves. If there’s a mystery at the heart of the story, so much the better. Having said all that, I also like a story that has a proper feel for the times and the people, and an acknowledgement that these aren’t just modern people inhabiting period costumes. A proper sense of place is also high on my list of requirements. This story started off so well, with a suitably cinematic prologue. Sadly things went rapidly downhill from there…

Danby Hall, the seat of the Earl of Avebury, is splendidly described at the beginning of the book, although we soon learn that the Earl is struggling to maintain the house and family in a suitably grand manner. We also learn that the story is set somewhere near Leeds, which doesn’t really fit with the naming of the earldom, but hey ho, there are notable exceptions to that rule. I’m not entirely sure that the family of an ancient Earldom would have the surname Bates, either. All that said, the story proper begins some days before our exciting prologue, as Lady Cecilia and the rest of the household await the arrival of the American heiress, whom they all assume will save the family finances by falling for and marrying Cecilia’s rather unworldly brother.

The family have planned an elaborate dinner party to show off, and show off to, their guest and have invited a number of local personalities, along with a famous explorer. When the explorer drops dead – poisoned – during the meal, Cecilia finds herself investigating the crime, since the police seem determined to make her brother, with his ‘suspicious’ botanical experiments, their chief suspect. Cecilia is aided in her endeavours by the heiress’ relatively new maid, and also by the maid’s pet cat – acquired on their voyage from the US.

This could have been a good story, even if the cat was a trifle too dog-like for my liking (my kittens are terribly unhelpful at pretty much everything), but it lacked both a proper feel for the manners of the age and any sort of understanding of the geography of the region and of Yorkshire villages in general. If it had been set in the Home Counties, I might have given it a little more leeway, but the idea of sending a servant from Leeds to London for last-minute supplies just made me boggle (not to mention the idea that a village near Leeds would have raspberries out of season, whether in insufficient numbers or not).

I think I’ll avoid the next in the series, even if some of the descriptions were pleasingly vivid.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 5, 2019 – Shelved
December 5, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed-elsewhere
December 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

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