A Very English Murder: A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
An absolutely gripping cozy murder mystery
Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady…daring detective?
England, 1920. Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic 45-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities - she’s now a Lady.
Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing....
But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights....
If you enjoy witty dialogue, glamorous intrigue, and the very best of Golden Age mysteries, then you will adore Verity Bright’s whodunit, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey, and Downton Abbey!
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 56 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||April 07, 2020|
|Publisher||Hachette UK - Bookouture|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #5,839 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#32 in Cozy Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
#58 in Historical Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
#302 in Historical Mystery
Top reviews from the United States
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I did find the heroine, Lady Eleanor Swift, to be genuinely endearing . . . eventually. At first, I wasn't sure about her. I find it rather irritating how the author bent over backwards to establish the fact that Eleanor was definitely, absolutely, positively not only an independent woman, but the MOST thoroughly independent, self-sustaining woman who ever walked (and bicycled, motorcycled, hiked, trekked, flew, fought, and explored) the planet. And the topic kept recurring throughout the book, as Ellie was constantly being asked to recount her exotic solo adventures. I certainly don't expect fiction to be entirely realistic, but Eleanor's backstory was just a tad too unrealistic for me. However, once I got past that, I did really come to love her personality. I love that she was kind-hearted and inquisitive and klutzy. She was a fun mix of bright and not-so-bright. Smart and vulnerable. Lovable and curious.
The second protagonist, Clifford the butler, was also a fun character. I liked him a lot, and I enjoyed the dialogue between Clifford and Eleanor.
Other than those two and some household servants, there were a large number of secondary characters who were not very well-developed and who sometimes blurred together in my mind, including the murder victims. This overabundance of vague characters made some of the plot elements difficult for me to follow.
The story was enjoyable, but it wasn't a gripping page-turner. I had no problem stopping at the end of a chapter and picking it up again several days later.
I found the writing to be uneven in general. The author is talented, and some of the witty musings, insights, and banter were most enjoyable to read. But sometimes I would come across phrases or entire sentences that made me cringe, as they were overly cloying or precious. The descriptions of Eleanor's love interest, Lancelot, were so annoying that I could not even enjoy the romantic aspect of the book. He was constantly being described in terms such as having a "chiseled jaw" (that was when we first met him - in case we had any doubts that this was going to be the love interest), rippling muscles, sun-kissed arms, etc. Whenever we got to the Lancelot parts, I felt as if I was suddenly reading a romance novel - and not even a grown-up romance novel, but something along the lines of "Twilight" adolescent melodrama. I actually kept hoping Eleanor would fall for the detective, who seemed to have an interest in her, instead of Lancelot.
Again, this book had moments of genuine brilliance and absolute enjoyment. Other moments were dull or distracting. I'm not sure I will be reading the next book in the series, but this book provided me with a light and pleasant read, and for that I am appreciative.
Anyone shot with a shotgun at close range would have a sizable hole in their body, scattering flesh and blood around the enclosure. The victim is then transported to another location and set up to look as if he had accidently shot himself there, leaving no spattering of remains spread around. The Police then accept that Mr. Atkins committed Suicide. I don.t think so.
This is a ludicrous idea that shows the authors know nothing about gun shots, nor did they bother to do any research on this or almost any aspect of the book. The heroine supposedly survived two commercial airline crashes while flying out of Southern Africa shortly prior to 1920, ( setting of the book). This is VERY remarkable as there were NO commercial airlines anywhere in Africa until 1929.
It appears to me that the authors are just trying to cash in on a spate of light mysteries with wealthy or titled female heroines set in the is era. There at least a dozen other authors writing about the same type of plot.
I can accept some small plotting errors in this type of light mystery reading. But not outright stupid concepts.
All of these things are easily checkable on google, so the authors seem to have just typed words with absolutely NO research into their subjects. Pitiful.
There are a number of other Authors who do not play this loose with the laws of Physics and Nature as these two, try them.
Save your money on Verity Bright books. I am not certain if they are Verity, but I assure you they are not Bright!
The characters came to life and there were plenty of nail-biting moments. I thought it was a great idea to cast Lady Swift as a trail-blazing young women stuck in a traditional setting. What a fantastic first novel. Congratulations!
I’m off to read the next novel in the series.
Top reviews from other countries
April, 1920 and Eleanor Swift has just returned to England from South Africa following news of the death of her uncle. She has inherited his fortune, his title, and Henley Hall along with servants and an elderly bulldog named Gladstone. It means that now she is now addressed as Lady, something that she’s not completely comfortable with despite having clearly lived a privilege life.
On her first night she goes out for a walk with Gladstone and witnesses a man being shot in a nearby quarry. When the police investigate they find no body and so they dismiss her account. Yet being a bit of a jolly hockey sticks type, Eleanor resolves to solve the mystery on her own. She does get some assistance from her late uncle’s butler, Clifford.
Clearly this is a historical cosy mystery and draws on tropes of the golden age of detectives, such as a woefully incompetent police force and an amateur sleuth quite confidently riding roughshod over them.
It’s was an entertaining read though only after finishing did I stop and think about its historical setting. It seems everyone has amnesia about the Great War. There is a brief mention of Eleanor’s late husband being killed early on (the circumstances pretty much indicates he was a rotter though she does not disclose this to others). The dowager countess at the dinner party does remark in passing that ‘many were’ (killed) and that’s about it.
While I know that cosies are not going to necessarily reflect the real world in the way a work of straight historical fiction would, it seemed incongruous to incorporate into Eleanor’s background the real problems faced by the first commercial flight between Cape Town and London in February 1920 (they crashed more than once) and then for Eleanor to return to an England seemingly unaffected by the events of the war just eighteen months after the 1918 Armistice.
Also, the fact that Eleanor has spent the past few years travelling the world mapping out routes for rich tourists seemed strange. I expect that it is meant to be a glamorous and adventurous occupation for her backstory. She even mentioned riding her bicycle in Europe. (Was it a case of ‘don’t mention the war’?)
I guess that it’s a departure from having fictional heroines of this period nursing or driving ambulances during the war. Again, she is from an aristocratic family so maybe scouting out luxury holidays was just more her thing. However, it painted a picture for me of an entitled rich woman swanning about the world ‘sorting out the locals’. Maybe that in itself does reflect an aspect of the period and the prevailing class system.
Anyway, aside from my quibbles this was still an entertaining romp and I probably shouldn’t take things so seriously. Yet I doubt that Miss Marple will need to ‘move over’.
There are two more titles in the series coming soon and it will be interesting to see how the characters develop and what further mysteries await them.
On a side note the Art Deco cover art was stunning.
I struggled with rating it, though I recognise that my issues are not going to concern most readers who are seeking escapism in their cosies. Thus, 3.5 stars rounded up.
There are murders to solve, police officers of questionable motives, an unctuous mayor, and a suspiciously evasive farmer – not to mention underworld contacts, and a magnificent young man with a flying machine (and a title too). Great fun.
Bought up by loving parents, rich and secure the little tomboy had the world at her feet then suddenly her parents disappeared.
Her uncle took her in and sent her to boarding school to learn how to be a proper little lady.
She spent holidays in his manor house, Henley Hall, but used to shut herself in her room where the walls plastered with pictures of distant lands and animals fed her hunger for adventure away from the stifling pressures of society.
Now an adult and her uncle dead, Elinor inherits the manor and its servants and the title Lady. Can she now fit into English country society and what about the oh so correct English butler Clifford who frowns on her contempt for correct clothes or meal times or the hallowed distance between staff and employer.
She is not in the hall for a day before taking an evening stroll. She gets lost and sees a shooting. It’s dark and stormy and the local police do not see the point of coming out till the next day by which time body and bloodstains have disappeared. Cue totally disbelieving policemen and from then on Eleanor decides to ride roughshod over them and show them how much better a modern woman can do.
She has two backups, the butler who slowly unbends and becomes a great ally in the hunt and Gladstone surely one of the most lovable and amusing and long-suffering canine characters ever.
This is a great stand-alone book but all through the whole story there are intriguing snippets about her parents and her uncle’s lives and deaths? Obviously more will become clear in the following books and I for one cannot wait.
I also love the fact that the authors obviously have an in-depth knowledge of the customs and places where Eleanor has travelled and it adds another totally believable layer to the book.