Author: Ashley Weaver
Setting: Rural England, 1934
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published: September 9th, 2020 by Minotaur Books
Summary: A Deception at Thornecrest is the sixth full-length novel in the Amory Ames cozy murder mysteries. The series follows a level-headed British socialite and her handsome husband, a pair who find themselves in the midst of murder a lot. The setting here is the Ames family seat, Thornecrest, and the plot involves horse racing, jilted lovers, surprise relatives, and village secrets.
I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a candid review. This review does not contain spoilers.
The first book of the Amory Ames series, Murder at the Brightwell (2014) was my foray into the contemporary cozy mystery genre. I read the book in one gulp while traveling and was transported, gleefully, into the glamorous world of an RKO picture. My delight with the series has, sadly, dimmed with each installment as the atmospheric touches and witticisms have become scarce in favor of sparer and simpler prose.
Like most, I’m drawn to cozy mysteries by three things—charming characters, clever puzzles, and immersive atmosphere. Amory and Milo are charming, together more than apart. There are some fun exchanges between the two, as well as a particularly touching scene that shows the couple’s devotion.
But with each book, Amory’s characterization and her ability to solve mysteries become less clear to me. She focuses on intuition born of semblance and sometimes she’s right and sometimes she’s wrong. Fallible characters are great, but when the mystery comes together, I’m left with no satisfying character-driven reason for Amory to have solved it.
I do like that this book featured a pregnant woman as the protagonist, since so often series wrap up when motherhood knocks or gloss over the pregnancy like it never happened. It’s also fun to see Amory use her perceived weaknesses as advantages.