Of Manners and Murders is the first book in a new series set in the late 1800s in England. Violet has returned with her half-sister, Sephora, from many years in India upon the death of her diplomat father. Having lived in India for years, encouraged by her father to see and learn everything, Violet has managed to avoid the prejudices of the English abroad. She would be called a "bluestocking" in every sense. Sixteen-year-old Sephora, however, is as empty-headed as a young lady was expected to be in Victorian England. The sisters are living with their flamboyant Aunt Adelia, who has suddenly taken off to the Continent with her "gentleman friend." Imagine Violet's surprise when Aunt Adelia discloses that she is Miss Hermione, author of England's most popular advice column. Not only that, she expects Violet to take over the column. Violet is in her twenties, firmly considered "on the shelf," and has no romantic experience other than one unhappy love affair. She feels obliged to act as her Aunt's proxy due to her fondness for Adelia.
Opening the first letter, she finds something far removed from a plea for romantic advice. Ivy Armstong, from a village close to London, is a newly married woman convinced that someone is trying to kill her. She even encloses newspaper clippings with pictures of her suspects circled. Violet feels that the matter is pressing enough to travel to the village of Willingdale to speak with her. Upon her arrival, however, she finds that Ivy's burial service is taking place. Violet presents herself as a friend of Ivy's from boarding school and sets out to find the culprit. Is it the handsome new husband, a jealous curate in love with Ivy, or a woman from the village angling for the new husband herself? What part did the village doctor play? While traveling back and forth from the village, she needs to pay attention to Sephora, who gets herself in massive trouble.
I found Manners and Murder enjoyable, with a couple of exceptions. I don't usually object to multiple POVs, but the breakaways to Sephora were annoying in this case. The reader already knows Sephora is an empty-headed, selfish, and self-involved twit. Her secondary drama was not particularly interesting, at least to me. One of the villains, and there were several, was almost cartoonishly evil. I do, however, like Violet very much and am interested in what may happen between her and the dashing American gentleman. He might be Violet's perfect match.
Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
RATING- 3.5 Stars