Book #1: ‘The Asharton Manor Mysteries’
1929: Joan has just accepted a new job as a member of the staff serving at Asharton Manor. Having been a servant for the entirety of her adult life, she knows what is & isn’t expected of her. Following the lead of the rest of the crew, she learns quickly that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill household.
Madam is always sick. Never appearing totally well, she only makes an appearance to approve menu selections. Master Denford, Madam’s husband, is never home & when he is, he’s rarely seen. Miss Cleo is Madam’s best friend & has apparently taken up residence at the Manor. Mr. Manfield, Madam’s brother, has recently returned from Africa & is now staying at the manor indefinitely. Mrs. Carter-Knox is Master Denford’s aging aunt who is obsessed with gardening & cares about little else. Along with the scores of help, they make up the residents of Asharton Manor.
One fateful night, Joan encounters Madam, delusional & frightened, outside her room. Believing it to be a part of her sickness, Joan dismisses any concern. But, the next morning, when Madam is found dead, Joan realizes that she may have seen more than she’d thought she did. Those living within the manor are folks of power & privilege. Who would risk everything to kill the lady of the house? What’s really going on in the manor?
Joan is a likable character who is content with who she is while still holding on to her hopes & dreams of a better life. The plot is definitely tricky to try & solve ahead of time. For a novella, there are a good number of twists & turns. There are definitely some surprises.
My main complaint was that the first 50 plus pages were filled with too much unnecessary background information. More clues & plot could have easily been included instead. I almost stopped reading, waiting for the mystery part to begin.
As it’s part of a series, I will continue on & hopefully, the following installments will be a little more mystery & a little less filler. Regardless, I did find it to be a good read & give it 3 stars.