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A STUDY IN MURDER by Callie Hutton


by Callie Hutton

Pub Date: May 12th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64385-302-4
Publisher: Crooked Lane

Romance author Hutton (His Rebellious Lass, 2019, etc.) turns to mystery in this tale of dark doings among the haute ton of Bath.

Lady Amy Lovell is perfectly content to occupy 1890 with visits to the other gentle ladies of her class, lively debates at the local book club, her friendship with William, Viscount Wethington, and, of course, her secret life writing mystery novels under the pen name E.D. Burton. She’s not quite sure why she allowed her father to press her into an engagement with shipping magnate Ronald St. Vincent. But once she receives an anonymous letter alleging that her fiance is involved in the opium trade, he swiftly becomes her ex-fiance, an appellation she insists on heatedly and repeatedly once he’s found in her garden with a knife in his chest. Like all mystery writers, Lady Amy believes firmly that no one is better equipped to solve the case than she is, and like all police officers, detectives Edwin Marsh and Ralph Carson of the Bath constabulary invite her with increasing urgency to butt out. The friction between professional and amateur sleuths leads to a series of repetitive confrontations between Lady Amy and the law, interspersed with a series of equally pedestrian encounters with suspects. Hutton, who writes spicy Regency romances, keeps the temperature between Lady Amy and Wethington well below a simmer as the two dutifully rehash each conversation and ponder their next move. Although there’s plenty of bad behavior, the two build so little momentum that the big reveal is a letdown since the culprit could be pretty much anyone.

A quicker pace and more careful cluing would help.