The Cotswolds, 1924. At the Old Forge in the quiet village of Maybury-in-the-Marsh a cry of anguish rings lady of the house Amy Phelps has been discovered dead. But with all the windows and doors to her room locked from inside, how – and by whom – was she killed? Arbuthnot ‘Arbie’ Swift finds himself in the unlikely position of detective. The celebrated author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Ghost-Hunting is staying at the Old Forge to investigate a suspected spectre, but now the more pressing matter of Amy’s murder falls to him too. With old friend Val, he soon uncovers a sorry tale of altered wills, secret love affairs and tragic losses – and plenty of motives for murder. When events take another sinister turn, Arbie must find the killer, fast. And to do so will mean cracking a most perfectly plotted crime…
If you’re in the mood for a cosy murder mystery, with plenty of humour and likeable characters, then Murder by Candlelight is a good choice! The book transports us to the Cotswold, where reluctant ‘author’ Arbie and his sort-of-friend Val are asked to help a local woman who is worried that her home, the Old Forge, is haunted. Soon, ghosts aren’t the problem – murder is…
I liked the characters in this book. Arbie is great fun, as is his friend Val, and their interactions together were very entertaining. I also warmed to the cast of characters around them, many of which were also fun to read about – though I did feel Arbie said ‘old bean’ a bit too much!
I found the story a bit slow to get going, as it took a while for the titular murder to take place. The solution, when it came, felt well-constructed and easy to follow – I just felt that the middle chunk of the book dragged a little, and I started to lose interest. However, it really picks up again towards the end, when the solution is revealed (it was clearly explained and felt cleverly constructed – often the solutions can feel a bit of a letdown, but not this one!). I enjoyed reading about Arbie, Val and the local police force trying to piece together the clues to work out who the culprit was. Together with the great characters, this made Murder by Candlelight a book that’s well worth a read.
My rating: 3/5
Murder by Candlelight is released in the UK on 4 January 2024.
Many thanks to the publisher, HQ, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.