31-year-old Tess Morgan has bought Kilfenora House and Gardens in Ireland, restoring the beautiful Tudor manor and after 2 ½ years of hard work, it will soon be open to the public again.
We meet many of her friends and the people who live in the community. These include Tess’s best friend, Genevieve Fortune, who owns an Irish country antique shop called Fortune Finds. Her mother Clarissa Westmacott (a former actor) is in her seventies. Gen’s son Malachi is 8.
There are also the three O’Riordan sisters – Laetitia, Megan and Ally – and the actor Aidan Gaunt, who is putting on a play for free in the ballroom – Doctor Faustus. Only something happens during rehearsals and their star is hospitalised. This is followed by even worse news. Can the opening of Kilfenora House still go ahead?
The novel is set in the present day and I enjoyed the mentions of the pandemic and how it had changed things for the characters, although it’s never talked about at length. The writing style is very accessible and I got into the story straight away, enjoying getting to know everyone and rooting for Tess.
It is quite a slow pace though, the build-up takes a bit longer than I would have liked, plus there’s too much description of the scenery – but I loved the setting and the characters. I love Tess, Clarissa, Genevieve and Mark especially – but I also adored Merlin the cat! In fact, he’s possibly the best-observed, and most realistic cat I have encountered in fiction.
It did remind me of a modern Agatha Christie with its beautiful setting and array of characters, who all may be suspects… Around page 300 (not the actual page number), I suddenly thought I’d got it sussed and knew who the murderer was. I’m not usually good at finding the clues and working things out, but yes, I got it right!!
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The characters were great and the story comes together very well without any loose ends.
Murder is easy … when it doesn’t look like murder.
Tess Morgan has finally made her dream of restoring beautiful Kilfenora House and Gardens into a reality.
But during rehearsals for the play that forms the opening weekend’s flagship event, her dream turns into a nightmare when a devastating accident looks set to ruin her carefully laid plans.
There are rumours that Kilfenora House is cursed, but this feels personal, and becomes increasingly terrifying when more than one body is discovered. Could someone be closing in on Tess herself?
Clarissa Westmacott, ex-star of stage and screen, certainly believes so, particularly when she learns that purple-flowered aconite has been picked from the Poison Garden. And Clarissa will stop at nothing to protect the friend she has come to see as a daughter…