Tucked away among Devon’s rolling green hills, Mallowan Hall combines the best of English tradition with the modern conveniences of 1930. Housekeeper Phyllida Bright, as efficient as she is personable, manages the large household with an iron fist in her very elegant glove. In one respect, however, Mallowan Hall stands far apart from other picturesque country houses . . .
The manor is home to archaeologist Max Mallowan and his famous wife, Agatha Christie. Phyllida is both loyal to and protective of the crime writer, who is as much friend as employer. An aficionado of detective fiction, Phyllida has yet to find a gentleman in real life half as fascinating as Mrs. Agatha’s Belgian hero, Hercule Poirot. But though accustomed to murder and its methods as frequent topics of conversation, Phyllida is unprepared for the sight of a very real, very dead body on the library floor . . .
A former Army nurse, Phyllida reacts with practical common sense—and a great deal of curiosity. It soon becomes clear that the victim arrived at Mallowan Hall under false pretenses during a weekend party. Now, Phyllida not only has a houseful of demanding guests on her hands—along with a distracted, anxious staff—but hordes of reporters camping outside. When another dead body is discovered—this time, one of her housemaids—Phyllida decides to follow in M. Poirot’s footsteps to determine which of the Mallowans’ guests is the killer. With help from the village’s handsome physician, Dr. Bhatt, Mr. Dobble, the butler, along with other household staff, Phyllida assembles the clues. Yet, she is all too aware that the killer must still be close at hand and poised to strike again. And only Phyllida’s wits will prevent her own story from coming to an abrupt end . . .
Murder at Mallowan Hall by Colleen Cambridge is the debut of A Phyllida Bright Mystery series. Phyllida Bright is the housekeeper at Mallowan Hall which is the home of Agatha Christie and her husband, Max. When a reporter ends up dead in the library, Mrs. Bright doubts the abilities of the detective assigned the case. She decides to some sleuthing on her own to solve the crime so the houseguests can be on their way. Murder at Mallowan Hall opens with the murder of a reporter found by Mrs. Bright in the library at Mallowan Hall. I like the character of Mrs. Bright. There is more to her than meets the eye. I like that she is an efficient housekeeper with attention to detail. Her bright hair is the one thing out of place which bothers the butler. Mrs. Bright has some quirky characteristics. We are introduced to a large cast of characters that include the household servants, Agatha Christie and her husband, Max as well as their houseguests. It can be difficult to keep track of all the characters. The whodunit is a closed room mystery. Someone in the house is the guilty party. Mrs. Bright actively investigates by asking questions and searching for clues. There are multiple suspects and a couple of red herrings. There are good clues to help readers solve the crime. Mrs. Bright’s reveal reminds me of an episode of Murder, She Wrote. I appreciated that the case was completely wrapped up. Murder at Mallowan was easy to get into in the beginning, but it can be slow going at times. The author is extremely detail oriented. A room or individual can be described down the minutest detail. This can be a bit much after a while. There was such a large cast of characters, that we really do not get much detail on the main ones. I am sure we will get to know the household staff better in future books. I think that die-hard fans of Agatha Christie will either love this story or hate it. I did feel the author captured the time when manor houses were still thriving. There is a definite Upstairs/Downstairs feel to the story. I am curious to learn more about Mrs. Bright. She is someone who is definitely keeping some secrets. Murder at Mallowan Hall has curious crime will have you confused unless you pay close attention to the clues.
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