Murder in the Mystery Suite
I think I’ve found my favorite of Ellery Adams’ series. Murder in the Mystery Suite is what I was looking for in a clever murder mystery novel. There is no magic and the romance aspect takes a backseat to the solving of the murder. It’s all more realistic than her other books, in that it theoretically could happen in an only slightly alternate universe. The way the narrator pronounces certain words can be a bit irksome,
Jane Steward is the hotel manager of Storyton Hall, a resort for readers. It’s a place to go and unplug and read and enjoy beautiful landscapes and eat all of the delicious food. It sounds like an awesome place, and I totally want to go. You know, except for the murders and all that, but you have to take some risks in life!
Jane is the single mother of twin 6-year-old boys, as well as the manager of the hotel. She has a lot of help in raising the boys, though. Her great aunt and uncle who own the resort are still in residence, and Aunt Octavia spoils the boys. Butterworth the butler, Sterling the head chauffeur, Sinclair the librarian, Mrs. Hubbard the head cook, and other members of the staff help make up the family that support and help Jane. She also has friends in the Cover Girls, her book club that she hosts at her house.
In order to book out the hotel, Jane decides to host a theme week. The first one is around Halloween, and is the Murder and Mayhem week, for lovers of murder mysteries. There are themed meals and games and parties. Everything seems to be going well until one of the guests winds up dead, and the rare book he had won as a prize is stolen. But not is all that it seems. The book that was given out as a prize was the wrong one, and Aunt Octavia is desperate to get her copy back. It turns out that Storyton Hall, some of the staff, and the Steward family have been hiding a very big secret that Jane finally learns.
Murder in the Paperback Parlor
It’s time for another themed week at Storyton Hall, and this one is centered around romance for Valentine’s Day. Well, romance novels, that is. It’s the Romancing the Reader event, and four romance authors are at Storyton Hall to interact with their readers. Rosamund York is the biggest celebrity author there, famous for her character of Venus Dares, a Regency era woman who lives her life and helps the lives of others without depending on a man. She is an inspirational character to many, including Maria Stone, a young feminist. Nigel Poindexter is also at the event as a reporter. And Rosamund also has her publicist, who cannot seem to stick to the “no technology in public areas” rule that is strictly enforced at Storyton Hall. At one of the first events of the week, a charity auction, Rosamund York reveals the first book in her new series. There is a lot of excitement, but that turn to anger after the fans get a chance to read the book. The new protagonist of Eros, a billionaire matchmaker who appears to look down on women, is not what the lovers of the Venus Dares novels are expecting. Hmm, I wonder who’s going to wind up dead…
One of the biggest events during the week is the male cover model contest, which would be a glorious thing to see. (The description of said event is the best.) And then there’s a Regency ball afterword, and the contestants of said contest are available to be dance partners! Sign me up!
Murder in the Secret Garden
The Medieval Herbalists are at Storyton Hall for a meeting, so you can be sure there will be poison about!
The description on the back of the book does not seem very accurate. It describes a walled garden full of poisonous plants bordering the grounds of the resort, but that’s not where it is. It’s quite far away. And the first murder victim is not found there, and they may have never even been in the secret garden at all! And the second victim (at this point everyone knows there are going to be at least two victims) is also not found in the secret garden. The motive for the first victim was also not clear to me. I mean, the one they figured out made sense, but I thought that they might have had another tie to the murderer. Maybe that’s just my wanting everything to be tied up nicely.
So, for a bit I was kind of hoping the second murderer was someone else. I mean, it makes more sense with who it actually was, but I was kind of hoping for (*kind-of spoiler alert* the mother-in-law. I thought it would have been interesting if she had tried to murder Hannah but ended up murdering the actual victim by accident.) And I do like how when one character has a solid alibi earlier in the book, quite a few people are disappointed!
I do like how Jane talks about interacting with her sons. She talks about how they listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks together as a family, because some parts might scare or confuse the boys and she wants to be there for them. There is also a discussion about allowances and jobs for the boys, and what is appropriate and what is not.
Murder in the Locked Library
So this one starts off with the discovery of a body, only this one isn’t as fresh as the other ones. The twins discover a skeleton while watching the earth-mover work on the new spa for Storyton Hall.
Not long after that, there is a rare book convention takes place at Storyton Hall. Which is convenient, as there is a badly damaged book discovered with the skeleton that the group is invited to help identify.
One of the events described seems super fun, and I would totally play. It’s a word game and a costume game together. The participants are dressed in cocktail attire, but they can add up to 5 items of flair to create a book pun. (For example, one gentleman wears a fake beard and carries around a clay pot. Harry Potter!)
When we get to the actual murder part, I got kind of mad at the characters. The person dies violently in Jane and the Finn’s presence, and no one attempts CPR on the person after they die. One of the Finns just checks for a pulse and after not finding one, shakes his head that the person is dead. No, man! Still attempt CPR! Maybe the victim could have been saved if you tried to keep their heart beating! Shame! And we got to know this character a bit, so their murder made me kind of sad.
Oh, man. Shit gets real at the end. And we learn something about Edwin Alcott, Jane’s boyfriend, that I was kind of suspecting, but then I still have questions. The next book will be focusing on him a bit.