Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.
Reviewed by Mark Lardas
July 17, 2022
“Murder at the Masked Ball,” by Magda Alexander, Hearts Afire Publishing, 2022, 300 pages, $12.99 (paperback), $3.99 (Ebook)
Kitty Worthington is back for her third adventure in solving crime. In her first, she prevented her brother from being convicted of murder. In the second, she saved her sister’s fiancé from a murder charge. Now she had a new challenge.
“Murder at the Masked Ball,” by Magda Alexander, follows the same template as the first two books. It is the 1920s, and Kitty Worthingtion, the youngest child in her wealthy family is trying to avoid her mother’s attempts at matchmaking. But she stumbles into a murder, one of her friends and relations seems to be the guilty party, and it is up to Kitty and her crew to prove otherwise by finding the actual culprit.
In this case, the accused is her good friend Lord Newcastle. He has carried a torch for Lady Wakefield since before World War I. He even proposed marriage to her, only to be turned down by her family. (He was not then Lord Newcastle, only inheriting the title and fortune due to the death of other heirs during World War I.) Rather than allowing Lady Wakefield to marry a penniless love, they forced her to marry the wealthy Lord Wakefield. He turned out to be as cruel as he was wealthy, regularly beating his wife for failing to produce an heir.
Lord Wakefield gets murdered at the Duchess of Brightwell’s masked ball which Kitty, her sister, and mother were attending. Newcastle was there also, as was Lady Wakefield. Newcastle had a confrontation with Lord Wakefield shortly before the murder. Lord Wakefield had struck his wife hard enough to bruise her face before the ball, outraging Newcastle. Worse, Newcastle was seen holding the murder weapon, a heavy ceramic vase, when Lord Wakefield’s body was discovered.
Kitty’s romantic interest, Inspector Crawford is sent to investigate. Even he thinks Newcastle did it. Things are made worse when Newcastle confesses to protect Lady Wakefield.
Kitty remains unconvinced. Crawford is more interested in catching a killer than closing a case. He does not interfere as she pursues an independent investigation to find the real killer. In the process, she puts herself in real danger.
“Murder at the Masked Ball” proves another delightful addition to this series. It explores the mores and manners of the English upper class and upper middle class during the 1920s. It offers a humorous and fast-paced adventure in a clever plot with an equally clever solution.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.