cover image Murder at Mallowan Hall

Murder at Mallowan Hall

Colleen Cambridge. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3244-6

Set in Devon, England, circa 1930, this solid series launch from Cambridge (the Lincoln’s White House mysteries as C.M. Gleason) introduces Phyllida Bright, the housekeeper at Mallowan Hall, a “modest manor house with fifteen guest rooms” that’s home to Agatha Christie and her second husband, Max Mallowan. Phyllida is an unabashed fan of Hercule Poirot, and one reason she’s currently unwed is “that she had yet to find a man who met the standards set by the proper Belgian detective.” Early one morning, Phyllida goes to draw the curtains in the library and finds one of the Mallowans’ house-party guests lying dead on the rug, a fountain pen protruding from the side of his neck. Another murder follows. The general ineptitude of the local police offends Phyllida, who decides to use her little gray cells to solve the case. That Agatha and Max stay on the periphery of the investigation may disappoint those expecting a more active role for them, and keeping track of the large cast of servants, guests, and hangers-on can be hard. Still, readers will want to see more of the clever Phyllida. Agent: Maura Kye-Casella, Don Congdon Assoc. (Nov.)