Monday, September 22, 2014

Murder at the Brightwell

Author:  Ashley Weaver
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars
Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who questions her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancĂ©, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the luxurious Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim.
Amory Ames is young, wealthy, and married - to a man who would rather travel the globe than spend time with her (or so it seems).  After five years together, she is beginning to question why she married him in the first place - especially after her former fiance, Gil Trent, shows up at her home asking for her help.  He wants her to accompany him to the Brightwell Hotel in order to help convince his sister that her forthcoming marriage to a rogue similar to her husband, Rupert Howe, is a mistake and must be avoided at all costs.
Not sure if she has made the right decision in agreeing, her encounter with her recently-returned husband convinces her otherwise.  She agrees to do it, and lets her husband know in no uncertain terms, that what-is-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-gander.  While she has no illusions about her marriage, she also has no intention of having an affair with Gil, taking her marriage vows seriously even if her husband doesn't.
But shortly after her arrival, she hears Gil and Rupert arguing below her terrace, and the next morning Rupert is found dead, victim of an apparent murder.  With all the evidence pointing toward Gil, and the sudden appearance of her husband at the Brightwell, Amory is determined to clear him of the charge of murder with or without her husband's help.
This book takes places in England in the 1930s, after World War I but before World War II, and it is a delightful read.  Although not much description is given to the hotel, we do know that it is by the sea, and caters to people wealthy enough to afford it.  The description of clothing during that period is accurate, and the life of the privileged few shines through.  The murder occurs fairly early on in the book, and there are enough characters who are suspect.  Everyone Amory comes in contact with seems to have some sort of secret about them, although the clues are not overt.  The inspector on the case is no bumbler, but appears to be a man used to watching people try and hide the truth, and is quite adept at putting things in perspective.
Amory's relationship with her husband is more complicated, since he is wealthy in his own right, a case of money marrying money as it were.  He appears to travel on a whim and spends more time away from home than not, which not only frustrates her, but keeps her wondering if he is a philanderer or not.
The only thing that bothered me was the ending, which I won't go into detail about, but I don't think that this is the first of a series, just a stand-alone; and as such, I wish I would have been given more of a resolution (don't fret; we do find out the killer). It just sort of makes you wonder if there was going to be one or not.

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