Its 1932 and Amory Ames is having marriage troubles. Her playboy husband, Milo, has recently returned to their English country home from a trip to Italy and the rumours of his illicit adventures there have preceded him. When Amory’s old flame, Gil Trent, unexpectedly asks her to accompany him on a trip to the seaside for a week, Amory has the perfect excuse to give Milo a taste of his own medicine. Gil’s kid sister, Emmeline, has taken up with a suspiciously charming young man, Rupert Howe, that Gil suspects is a golddigger with a wandering eye- he hopes Amory can pass along some advice to Emmeline about the lessons of making a marriage with charming scoundrels. Not long after they arrive at the hotel, along with a small party of friends and acquaintances, but Milo decides he should join them as well. The love triangle tension between Amory, Gil and Milo takes a turn into a different kind of tension when one of their party is murdered. Which one of them is a killer?
Murder at the Brightwell is an Agatha Christie style murder mystery and Weaver does a good job of capturing the feeling- a group of upper crust socialites trapped in a locked room style murder at a fancy seaside hotel. Ames is a winning heroine- smart, skilled and determined to solve the mystery for her own understandable reasons, she is also a little distracted by her own love problems.
I ended up reading an actual Agatha Christie immediately after this one, and there are some modernizations that Weaver has made, such as being less euphemistic about affairs and sex (she still isn’t blunt, but she’s blunter than Christie). I also liked the duality of Amory and Milo, a tag team of unofficial detectives, which I haven’t seen as much in Christie (Poirot or Marple, not both together).
If you like the occasional Agatha Christie, this series is worth a try. Counting this one as the New Series in the cbr13bingo book bingo.