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A first for my blog–two mysteries by the same author reviewed at one time.  I read Murder At The Brightwell a few weeks ago and planned to blog about it; then I read Death Wears A Mask, the second novel in the series, last week.  I have a policy of not writing about two books by the same author within a year, since I want to introduce readers to as many authors as possible, but this time it seems only logical to feature these two books in a single post.

Murder At The Brightwell is a delightful romp through 1930s upper class London society via the person of Amory Ames.  As the novel opens, Amory’s husband, Milo, whom she loves and hates in equal measure, has just returned from two months away with nary a word of explanation.  Unfortunately Amory is used to this behavior, as well as being used to seeing his photo appear with disheartening regularity in the society columns of various tabloids.

Minutes after Milo’s return, the Ames’ butler announces a visitor.  It’s Gil Trent, Amory’s former fiancé. The two had been engaged for a month when Amory met Milo, broke off the engagement, and married Milo.  She hasn’t seen Gil in the five succeeding years, but he has come to ask a favor.

He tells Amory that his younger sister, Emmeline, has gotten engaged to Rupert Howe, whom Gil is certain is no good.  He wants Amory to go to the Brightwell hotel with him and try to convince his sister that her fiancé is not the right man for her.  Amory has met Rupert and knows that his good looks and charm are uncannily similar to Milo’s; perhaps, indeed, she will be able to persuade Emmeline that the man is all surface, no substance.

Deciding that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, Amory refuses to tell Milo where she is going, only that she is leaving the next day on a trip.  Correctly deducing that this somehow involves Gil, Milo offers some advice.  “Leave me if you must, darling.  But don’t go crawling back to Trent, of all people.  Surely you must have some pride.”  And Amory’s sad answer is, “I have been married to you for five years, Milo.  How much pride can I possibly have left?”  So off she goes to do what she can to help her former boyfriend, never thinking that this trip will end with a murder.

In Death Wears A Mask, Serena Barrington, a friend of Amory’s parents, comes to her for help in finding out who has stolen several of her valuable jewels.  A dinner party is arranged for Amory to meet the suspects, but no one there seems likely to be the thief.  A masked ball at the home of one the dinner guests, Viscount Dunmore, a few days later will include these same guests as well as many others members of London society, so a trap is laid by Serena and Amory in an attempt to catch the thief there.  However, everything goes awry when one of the guests at the ball, who was also at the Barrington dinner, is found murdered.

I would use the word frothy to describe Ashley Weaver’s books, but that would be doing them a disservice.  Although they are far from hard core mysteries, each one has a believable plot, witty dialog, and a delightful heroine.  Indeed, I found myself wishing I could be Amory Ames for a while, or at least visit her in one of the three beautiful homes that she and Milo have.  Murder At The Brightwell and Death Wears A Mask are two terrific introductions into a beguiling new series.

You can read more about Ashley Weaver at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.


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