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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Lady Rose Summer is getting annoyed because her fiancé Harry Cathcart who is working as a private detective appears to be taking a more than professional interest in the glamorous Dolores. Then Dolores is murdered and Rose is found standing over the body. This compromising situation leads to a fast paced plot which involves more murders, more dangers for Rose and her companion, Daisy, and a trip to France.

I enjoyed the way the characters interact and how the relationship between Harry and Rose has grown and developed over the four books. Rose is confined by her role in society and her life is reduced to changing her clothes six times a day and eating large meals she doesn't really want. It seems to her that Harry is much freer to do what her wants as is Daisy. Her frustration leads her into many dangers and awkward social situations.

The book is well written and the historical background is interesting without overwhelming the story. This is a good light read if you like your crime stories without too much violence and with an unusual background. The four books can be read in any order as they will stand alone though a reader starting with this book might be a little confused over the on-off engagement between Rose and Harry.
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This is the fourth in a series of murder mysteries set in Britain and France in the first decade of the 20th century featuring Captain Harry Cathcart and Lady Rose Summer.

To date there are four books in the series, which are

Snobbery with Violence
Hasty Death
Sick of Shadows
Our Lady of Pain

The author writes romantic fiction, mostly humorous Regency romances plus some set in the Edwardian period, under the name Marion Chesney, and mystery/detective stories such as the Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth series under the name M.C. Beaton.

This Edwardian series is a something of a cross-over between the two - part romance and part murder mystery - and the books often have both names on the cover (usually something like "M.C. Beaton writing as Marion Chesney.)

The main characters in the series are:

Captain Harry Cathcart, younger son of a Baron, has left the army after being injured in the Boer war. At the start of the first book in the series he carried out a service for Lady Rose's father for which he gained a reputation as a fixer, and by the time of this fourth book he is successfully running a business as the Edwardian equivalent of a Private Investigator - though this makes some members of "Society" look down on him as being "in trade."

Lady Rose Summer, Harry's fiance and the only daughter of the Earl and Countess of Hadfield. Slightly notorious as having briefly been involved with suffragettes. Chafes at the fact that society will not allow her a useful role, and constantly looking for something more challenging to do -from working as a typist or secretary to helping the police solve murders.

Beckett - Harry's "personal gentleman" - in love with Daisy.

Daisy - Lady Rose's companion. A former chorus girl, but when Captain Cathcart recruited her to play the role of a maid with a contagious disease as one of the escapades in the first book, Lady Rose recruited her to do the job for real. Later Lady Rose promoted her from Maid to Companion. In love with Becket and wants to marry him.

Detective Superintendent Kerridge - a senior policeman of humble origins and carefully supressed radical views, reinforced by the fact that whenever he has to interview an aristocrat they always threaten to report him to the Prime Minister. In the first three books, he played Inspector Slack to Lady Rose's Miss Marple. By this one his main role is releasing Harry or Lady Rose from arrest on the frequent occasions one of them is wrongly accused of murder.

At the start of this fourth book, Lady Rose Summer is engaged to Captain Harry Cathcart for the second time. They originally agreed an engagement at the end of the second book to prevent Lady Rose's parents shipping her out to India to find a husband. The engagement was broken off and then re-established in the third book.

Although you would think that their propensity for breaking up and re-contracting engagements was a dead give-away, neither has ever admitted that they actually have feelings for each other. Lady Rose "would have sworn on a stack of bibles that she was not a jealous woman." Then a gorgeous courtesan from Paris, Mademoiselle Dolores Duval, hires Harry in his capacity as an investigator.

When Harry accompanies Dolores to the theatre, Lady Rose completely loses her temper, and the book loses any claim to authenticity as a picture of Edwardian Society. She snaps at Mademoiselle Duval an insult which a titled lady of that time would never have heard of and the threat to "leave my fiance alone ... or I'll kill you."

Unfortunately the following morning Lady Rose discovers Dolores Duval's murdered body - and is then arrested for the murder when the cleaning lady finds Rose standing over the body with a gun in her hand.

This starts a madcap series of scrapes which range from London to Oxford to Paris to Scotland, and include several more murders, Lady Rose and Daisy spending some time under the supervision of a group of Anglican Benedictine nuns who are as ascetic and severe as the strictest Catholic ones, and with romances, engagements and marriages made, sundered, and on again.

Despite my previous comparison with Miss Marple, this is not in the same league as Agatha Christie as a detective story, and neither is it in the same league as Jane Austen as a romance. Nor, indeed, is it one of the author's best books. When she is really on form, M.C. Beaton/Marion Chesney is capable of good characterisation and flashes of delightful humour. However apart from the absurd parody of convent life, and the ironic trick by which Lady Rose's parents are persuaded to allow her to leave the convent, there isn't as much good humour in this book as the author usually manages to include. There is a lot of non-stop action with many twists and turns but it never stops for long enough for the reader to really care much about what's happening.

Worth reading if you enjoyed the other books in the series and want to know what happens next, or if you are looking for a mildly entertaining light read. Otherwise, give it a miss.
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2011
Loved this series of books which I bought for my Kindle. My only criticism is that I wish on the Kindle they would put the books in order for when you purchase them as I bought all four and ended up starting to read them in the wrong order. It would be helpful if this could be sorted out.
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on 28 May 2013
I have now read all four books in the Edwardian Murder Mystery series. This series were written some time ago & like all of M C Beaton’s books they are easy reading probably what would be called holiday reading or a good travelling companion. If you liked the books written by Georgette Heyer these should appeal even though Georgette Heyer’s books were set in the Regency period & these are set in the Edwardian period.
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I really enjoy all of MC Beaton's books. Having gone through all the Hamish Macbeth (on Audible as well!) and Agatha Raisin I decided to start on her Regency and Edwardian novels. Yes, there are quite a few typos but nothing to detract from the storyline. I like a bit of escapism and these books fit the bill.
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This is the fourth book in the author's Edwardian murder mystery series of books. While I have enjoyed them all in varying degrees, this one is the weakest of the lot. Although it features Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart with their off again, on again engagement, the story has a difficult time getting totally off the ground and engaging the reader.

Once again, Lady Rose gets herself in trouble when, in a fit of jealousy, she threatens to kill one of Captains Cathcart's clients, the beguiling Parisian temptress Dolores Duval. When Madame Duval turns up dead, Lady Rose becomes the number one suspect. Of course, Captain Cathcart does his utmost to clear his intended's name, while Lady Rose finds herself under attack by person or person's unknown.

All in all, it is a somewhat choppy affair that could have used some better editing, as the book goes hither and thither. Moreover, there a back story involving Lady Rose's companion, Daisy, and Captain Cathcart's manservant, Becker, that takes up a bit of the story. While it is a light and frothy little mystery, the characters were somewhat annoying this time around and not as enjoyable as in the earlier books. Still, fans of the author will derive a modicum of enjoyment from the book.
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on 7 September 2011
I have just come across this series of books which has introduced me to a new heroine and hero (of sorts! If you read the book you will know what I mean.) I thoroughly enjoyed the book- but be sure you get them in the correct order- so that you know the background of the characters-things could be a bit puzzling if you don't! I can't wait for more new titles in this series.

I love MC Beaton- and I am sure you will too!
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on 19 September 2011
Another great book from this brilliant authour a must read for all M C Beaton's fans. If you havent yet read any of these Edwardian titles then you should but make sure you start with the first one and read in sequence, they are just as good as the Agatha Raisin or Hamish MacBeth books. Highly recommended.
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on 28 January 2013
I really enjoyed the Hamish Macbeth omnibus which I read over Christmas and anticipated this would be similar but it was so predictable and once or twice I wondered who it was aimed at. overall a pretty disappointing read I was pleased to get to the end of
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on 3 September 2011
Full of murder, mystery and upper class humour - full marks! In fact, I bought all the four books in the series after reading this one. No swearing and very little sex, it was a delight from the norm. Fantastic!!!
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