cover image Murder at Keyhaven Castle: A Stella and Lyndy Mystery

Murder at Keyhaven Castle: A Stella and Lyndy Mystery

Clara McKenna. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-1779-5

Set in 1905 Hampshire, McKenna’s uneven third Stella and Lyndy mystery (after 2020’s Murder at Blackwater Bend) finds Kentucky heiress Stella Kendrick just days away from her wedding to Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst at Morrington Hall, the Lyndhurst family estate. The receipt of an anonymous wedding present and the arrival of Stella’s vulgar, braggart father creates tension, as does the failure of a champion racehorse, a part of Stella’s dowry, to win an important race. During a trip to Southampton, Stella witnesses a cab accident that kills a man, who oddly turns out to have a newspaper clipping about the upcoming wedding. A murder at a historic castle follows that implicates a member of Lyndy’s family. The two appealing leads are fully fleshed out, but secondary characters, like Stella’s father and Lyndy’s haughty mother and sister, amount to caricatures. Repetitive descriptions and recounting of past events at times pad the narrative, though the pace is brisk enough to hold readers’ interest until the deus ex machina ending. This is not the place to start for newcomers. Agent: John Talbot, Talbot Fortune. (July)