Books, Review

Book Review: Murder at Mondial Castle


So! Reviews are coming back. I make no promises. I hadn’t been reading much at all for a long time, and I can’t and won’t read in genres I am currently writing in. Which leaves out large swathes of SFF. Besides which, my comfort reads are, and always have been, mysteries. Specifically Brit Myst, which likely stems from my early love affair with Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham. They say you never forget your first love. 

I was binging Agatha Christie. I had trouble relating to Miss Marple when I was young and first exploring the literary world. Now? I find myself enjoying her gentle insights. Poirot amuses me. Knowing that Christie, like myself, was a chemist also adds to my appreciation. There is a reason she is the Grand Dame of mystery. But I say this, to explain how I came across The Murder at Mondial Castle. I was looking for more Christie in KU. With a tight reading budget, the ten bucks a month for all-you-can-read is a blessing. I’d run out, so I was squinting suspiciously at the recommendations Amazon clutters up your search results with. Most of these, following Sturgeon’s Law, are not even worth a free download. 

Something about this one caught my eye. Maybe it was the blurb, but more likely it was the unusual pairing of a husband and wife team, and an older couple, at that. I like the regency era (Georgette Heyer is another of my all time comfort read favorites) and Victorian is close enough. Besides which, as I started to read this, it really is unusual. In a very good way. 

What’s even more rare? The First Reader came to me after I started reading Book 2. “What happened to that historical mystery?” 

“Wait, you were reading that? I never thought you’d like it, so I returned it!” 

Needless to say, we are both reading through the series and enjoying it. He identifies strongly with Theodore, the detective Earl who has trouble empathizing with people. It’s great fun to talk to him about the book we are both reading! This is very, I emphasize, rare for us. We do share some tastes – that’s where Pixie Noir came from! – but recently he’s had all the time on his hands to do nothing but read. I have been having trouble reading fiction, 2020 was the year of non-fiction for me. 

So what else do I say? I’m not going to spoil the plot! I hate reviews that do that. The unlikely detective pair are an Earl who was a medical doctor before unfortunate family deaths squashed his career, and his matchmaking wife who honed her skills on their seven daughters. She has all the people skills, while he has a gift of perception. They can move through upper society in a way no policeman of the era can. 

Speaking of that – the author is a scholar of the Victorian era, and it shows nicely. Not in a heavy-handed pedantic way, but in little details and well-thought-out period correct settings. I’m very much enjoying that she does not attempt to moralize. Well, not in the modern lens, anyway. Victorians did enough moralizing without another layer! 

And with that, I’ve hit the upper level of ‘how long should a review be?’ so I will merely suggest you go explore the book for yourself. 

Note: Links from this blog to Amazon are affiliate links. I make a tiny bit when you make a purchase after following them. It costs you nothing, and helps me keep the blog alive. Thanks! 


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Murder at Mondial Castle

  1. Wondering if you ever read Ellis Peters Detective Felse series? Pretty solid post-WWII mysteries with my favorite being “Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Heart”.
    Peters is obviously more famous for her Brother Cadfael series but I don’t recommend those as highly. They can be entertaining but formulaic and as a Catholic I detest the subtle digs and misrepresentations of the faith in her books though it is a minor part.

  2. LOL! Sayers, Allingham, Christie and Heyer? We are on the same page. Add Ngaio Marsh, Patricia Wentworth and Doris Disney–but none on KU. I’ve read a lot on KU that isn’t worth it but these series aren’t bad:

    Old Soldiers Never Die (Village Mysteries Book 1)

    Folly (Alex Duggins Book 1)

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