cover image A Trace of Poison: A Phyllida Bright Mystery

A Trace of Poison: A Phyllida Bright Mystery

Colleen Cambridge. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3247-7

The Murder Fete, a gathering of amateur and professional mystery writers in the English village of Listleigh, provides the backdrop for Cambridge’s delightful sequel to 2021’s Murder at Mallowan Hall. When a Catholic priest is poisoned during the festival, Phyllida Bright, Agatha Christie’s fictional housekeeper, quickly determines that the intended victim may have been the loathsome Alastair Whittlesby, president of the local writers’ club. Whittlesby has been considered the front-runner to win a writing contest with a prize of a publishing contract, and he believes that one of the other amateur writers wanted him out of the way. Cambridge weaves in just the right amount of historical detail and references to classic Christie novels while placing Phyllida and her intelligent sleuthing skills front and center. That the judges for the contest include Christie and other members of the real-life Detection Club, including Anthony Berkeley, G.K. Chesterton, and Dorothy L. Sayers, only adds to the fun. Fans of traditional mysteries will appreciate the author’s sometimes tongue-in-cheek adherence to the conventions of the genre, particularly the denouement where all is revealed. Dame Agatha would be proud. Agent: Maura Kye-Casella, Don Congdon Assoc. (Nov.)