cover image A Deadly Endowment

A Deadly Endowment

Alyssa Maxwell. Kensington, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3490-7

Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in Maxwell’s pleasantly diverting seventh Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery (after 2021’s A Sinister Service). After the depredations of WWI, Lady Phoebe Renshaw’s grandfather, the Earl of Wroxly, is badly in need of cash to maintain Foxwood Hall, the family estate, so to generate income, Lady Phoebe suggests her grandparents open the house to guided tours. Phoebe conducts her first tour for a gaggle of schoolchildren and members of the local historical society, but things go awry when one of the adults, Arvina Bell, wanders off and ends up dead in the library, strangled with a curtain tie. Only one thing is missing—an old family photograph. Does the photo hold a clue to why Mrs. Bell was killed? Phoebe and her lady’s maid, the intrepid Eva Huntford, uncover plots and motives galore among the historical society members. Maxwell brings it all to the table: colorful characters, a charming Cotswold setting, lots of suspects, a dismissive chief inspector and his kind subordinate, plucky ladies who are smarter than the police, a hidden treasure, and a hint of romance. This is an exemplary cozy. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (Jan.)