A Deadly Endowment
A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery Book 7
Dec 28th, 2021
A Deadly Endowment by Alyssa Maxwell begins with Lady Phoebe having persuaded her grandparents, the Earl and Lady of Wroxly, to open their home, Foxwood Hall, to the public for scheduled tours of the property for a small fee. She had to convince her family that this enterprise was necessary to bring in additional income. Even though they are hesitant, they agree if the guests are always supervised. Unfortunately, their first scheduled tour turns into a huge disaster. Lady Phoebe and her maid Eva are unable to keep track of everyone, and one of the guests disappears and is later found murdered in the library.
“The series came from an idea from my editor. They recommended I write something with a Downton Abbey mystery twist. I thought it out with the characters and the setting. In this story I wanted to bring them back to the Renshaw estate where they lived. I came up with the idea to open this house to tourists because many of the estates were in financial problems after WWI. Members of a historical society came to the house and were from all walks of life.”
In fact, WWI opened society. “They called WWI The Great Equalizer. Officers and enlisted men fought together and did activities together. People began to realize how they were much more alike than different. On the home front women collected supplies and worked together in hospitals. The Aristocrats and common people all worked together. Everybody pulled their weight.”
This first tour group consists of members of the Historical Society, a magazine writer, and a flock of students. It’s a large group for Phoebe, her sister Amelia, and Eva to manage, and when a member of the society the widow Arvina Bell goes missing, Eva goes in search of her, only to find her in the library, strangled with a silken drapery cord. Now Eva and Phoebe must once again team up to find out who murdered Bell.
A maid and a Lady worked together. “Phoebe and the maid Eva working together allows me to have the sleuth in two places at once. Phoebe can move through society. But she could not question the servants who would freeze up. But she knows Eva has relationships with her peers. She can investigate below stairs. After WWI class lines were blurred. Phoebe and her maid were on much friendly terms than the average Lady and her maid. Much less employer and servant and much more friends.”
Not only is this an appealing mystery but readers get a glimpse of how World War I impacted society and the Aristocrats finances.