The English ancestral manor of Cherrywood Hall is ready to compete for selection in an upcoming British TV period drama series: the grounds are manicured, the mansion is polished, and the servants are poised. American heiress Gemma Lancaster Phillips has crossed the pond to help her cousin defeat the three other stately homes vying for the prize.
What Gemma doesn’t realize is that this competition is life or death, and someone is taking that challenge literally. The occupants of one home are killed in an automobile accident, and murder becomes a frequent occurrence at the other locations. Who is behind the mayhem? Selection would be a major coup for both the estate and the community. At first the other contestants seem to be likely suspects, but no one is quite certain as the tragedies continue. Could it even be Emma’s beloved cousin Evan, the surviving heir to the Lancaster fortune, or Kyle, his best friend and estate manager? With the Royal family in attendance at each event, the puzzle becomes a crucial one for Scotland Yard, and they enlist Gemma’s help to solve the mystery.
When the competition’s winner is announced on New Year’s Eve, will Gemma’s future be forever tied to her ancestral past?
I can’t say much more without giving a spoiler, so let me say this about Barton’s writing. Her writing is marvelous! She handles the intricacies of first person POV so well. The story is told from the point of view of Dr. Gemma Phillips. This thoroughly American woman has studied the family history for her PhD. and has an eye for so much of the many decades of culture of British manors and estates. The scene-setting leaves little to be desired, the dialogue, action, and characterizations are simply wonderful in the small village and the stately manor, known as Cherrywood Hall. The clothing and foods of the past get some interesting exposure in this story. I was in suspense most of the time, and quite shocked at some of the plot twists! I have never been very good at guessing who the perp is, in a well-written story. You are going to get a great deal of reading pleasure from this book.
I award The Crown for Castlewood Manor a score of 4.9 stars; the score would have been higher, except for the small handful of spelling errors, I stumbled upon.
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Tags: mystery, suspense, Traditional detective, cosy, castle