Alyssa Maxwell continues her strong post-World War I cozy
mystery series with a terrific second installment in PINCH
OF POISON. Lady Phoebe Renshaw organized a luncheon to
benefit and collect donations for wounded war veterans. She
enlists the help of girls at the Haverleigh School for
Young Ladies, the event's sponsor and where the lunch takes
Unfortunately not everyone has charity in mind as the
school's headmistress ends up dead from poison. Was it one
of the girls helping in the kitchen? Was it the
headmistress's assistant who seems to covet her position?
Or was it the school's nurse, clearly still shell-shocked
from her work on the front lines? Phoebe and her lady's
maid, Eva, plan to find out.
Many of the young ladies come from rich families, so it
makes sense for Phoebe, who holds a similar position in
society, to question them while Eva can best handle the
servants. As with the first book in the series, Murder Most
Malicious, Maxwell gives the reader numerous suspects, and
I, for one, changed my mind many times and still didn't get
it right. As Phoebe uncovers clues, the suspect list grows
longer, not shorter.
Maxwell manages to mix in a bit of romance albeit chaste,
but it's still compelling and adds flair to the characters.
PINCH of POISON certainly can stand on its own, but I
personally can't read series out of order and recommend
starting with the first book. As with most series, the
characters grow as the series progresses, so while
unnecessary, reading in order gives a foundation and future
books just enhance the experience. I can't wait for book three.
In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her
lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, encounter an uncharitable killer
at a charity luncheon sponsored by a posh school for girls .
Good deeds build good character, and good character is what
the Haverleigh School for Young Ladies is all about. Lady
Phoebe—with the tireless assistance of Eva—has organized a
luncheon at the school to benefit wounded veterans of the
Great War, encouraging the students to participate in the
cooking and the baking. But too many cooks do more than
spoil the broth—they add up to a recipe for disaster when
the school’s headmistress, Miss Finch, is poisoned.
The girls at Haverleigh all come from highly respected
families, none of whom will countenance their darling
daughters being harassed like common criminals by the local
police. So Lady Phoebe steps in to handle the wealthy young
debutantes with tact and discretion, while Eva cozies up to
the staff. Did one of the girls resent the headmistress
enough to do her in? Did a teacher bear a grudge? What about
the school nurse, clearly shell shocked from her service in
the war? No one is above suspicion, not even members of the
school’s governing body, some of whom objected to Miss
Finch’s “modern” methods.
But Lady Phoebe and Eva will have to sleuth with great
stealth—or the cornered killer may try to teach someone else
a lethal lesson.