Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney

MURDER
Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney
An Ellen McKenzie Mystery
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (300 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

A ghost in Colonial dress has been wreaking havoc at an old plantation house in Virginia. The house is owned by Elizabeth Smithwood, the best friend of Ellen’s Aunt Mary. Mary is determined to fly to the rescue, and Ellen McKenzie has no choice but to leave her real estate business and new husband to accompany her. Who else will keep the old girl out of trouble? When Ellen and Aunt Mary arrive, they find that Elizabeth’s “house” comprises three sprawling buildings containing all manner of secret entrances and passages, not to mention slave cabins. But who owns what and who owned whom? After Monty—the so-called ghost and stepson of Elizabeth’s dead husband—turns up dead in Elizabeth’s house, suspicion falls on her. Especially when the cause of death is a poisoned glass of syllabub taken from a batch of the sweet, creamy after-dinner drink sitting in Elizabeth’s refrigerator. Monty had enemies to spare. Why was he roaming the old house? What was he searching for? To find the truth, Ellen and her Aunt Mary will have to do much more than rummage through stacks of old crates; they will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas. The spirits they disturb are far deadlier than the one who brought them to Virginia.

Ellen McKenzie and her Aunt Mary rush off to Virginia to help out an old friend who is being attacked by a colonial gentleman’s ghost. On their first night in Virginia, after a long day travelling on several different flights and before they can even have dinner, the “ghost” is found murdered on the dining room carpet.

I was hooked from the opening of this wonderful cozy mystery. The characters are very real and I wanted to help them. Aunt Mary’s friend Elizabeth is still coping with the loss of her husband, who died from a stroke a few months earlier. The thought that Elizabeth would have poisoned anyone with her syllabub is ludicrous, but unfortunately the head of the homicide division in the small town is at best, incompetent, and at the worst, a murder suspect. Elizabeth’s sister-in-law is a crotchety lady with a very sharp tongue, but also a firm belief in Elizabeth’s innocence. There are many more delightful characters all working to help Elizabeth, and I enjoyed them all.

The story takes place on an old plantation in Virginia, and the past history becomes yet another character. Kathleen Delaney has done her research and her readers are the richer for it. Among other things, I learned all about syllabub, a desert drink, and also sippets, spoons made from stale bread. One of the characters teaches Colonial cooking and it was fascinating to learn about baking and how it was done in the eighteenth century. Everything is described with a richness of language that draws the reader back into the early history of the South.

And if that weren’t enough, the action is fast-paced, full of drama and mystery. The plot twists and turns in myriad ways. An old murder is uncovered, along with family feuds, contested wills, and the aftermath of slavery. Delaney keeps her readers guessing right up to the end, and I found that I couldn’t put this book down.

I am very pleased to have found a delightful detective and even more pleased to learn that this is the fifth in a series. It stands alone just fine, but I am now eager to read the first four as I really enjoy Ellen McKenzie. If you are looking for a cozy mystery which is filled with history and intrigue, look no further than Murder by Syllabub.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 4 1/2 stars: “I was hooked from the opening of this wonderful cozy mystery. The characters are very real and I wanted to help them…. The story takes place on an old plantation in Virginia, and the past history becomes yet another character. Kathleen Delaney has done her research and her readers are the richer for it. Among other things, I learned all about syllabub, a desert drink, and also sippets, spoons made from stale bread. One of the characters teaches Colonial cooking and it was fascinating to learn about baking and how it was done in the eighteenth century. Everything is described with a richness of language that draws the reader back into the early history of the South. And if that weren’t enough, the action is fast-paced, full of drama and mystery. The plot twists and turns in myriad ways. An old murder is uncovered, along with family feuds, contested wills, and the aftermath of slavery. Delaney keeps her readers guessing right up to the end, and I found that I couldn’t put this book down. If you are looking for a cozy mystery which is filled with history and intrigue, look no further than Murder by Syllabub.”  Read more …. […]

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