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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

‘Dancing with Death’ by Amy Myers

Published by Severn House,
30 January 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8685-9

It is 1925 and Nell Drury is thoroughly enjoying her job as chef at Wychbourne Court, the stately home of Lord and Lady Ansley. She feels loyalty and affection for the Ansley family and for her fellow servants, even the difficult housekeeper, Mrs Fielding, who feels threatened by Nell’s position and tries to undermine her.

Lord and Lady Ansley’s son, Richard, and their daughter, Helen, are part of a fashionable set of Bright Young things. When Richard and Helen’s friends come down from London and descend upon Wychbourne Court for an extravagant party, Nell knows she is destined for a busy weekend. However, she had not anticipated being detailed to lead some of the guests in a ghost hunt, organised by Lady Clarice Ansley, Lord Ansley’s spinster sister. Lady Clarice takes her family ghosts very seriously. Unfortunately, her nephew, Richard and nieces Helen and Sophy are less sincere and with the aid of a guest, Charles Parkyn-Wright, they plan a rather more amusing ghost hunt than Lady Clarice intended. Charles Parkyn-Wright has always been a close friend of Richard, and Helen is in love with Charles, so neither of them are happy when he pays marked attentions to Elise Harlington, the lady whom Richard wishes to marry, and dances with her for much of the early part of the ball. In the meantime, Sophy, their rebellious younger sister, has her own mischievous game to play.

Nell knows that she will have a very busy evening, torn between supervising the food preparation and assisting Lady Clarice with her ghost hunt, and she is further distracted by an unexpected encounter with a former lover, Guy Ellimore, who is the leader of the band playing at the ball.

Nell is alert for mischief during the ghost hunt but nothing can prepare her for the discovery of a murder victim. Lady Ansley begs Nell to try and find out who killed the victim and how deeply her family is involved and Nell agrees to do her best, despite the disapproval of Detective Inspector Alexander Melbray of Scotland Yard.

Dancing with Death is the first in the Nell Drury series. The author’s knowledge of the food of the period in masterly and Nell is a thoroughly appealing heroine, a strong but generous woman with her own career and confidence in her own abilities. I particularly enjoyed the food related exclamations that Nell makes, often to herself, such as ‘But pottering pancakes, where on earth was this leading?’ Despite the lightness of the dialogue there is an underlying thread that reinforces the fact that, although the First World War has been over for seven years, some scars, physical and emotional, will never heal. Dancing with Death is a thoroughly enjoyable read and, hopefully, will be the first book of another great series for Amy Myers.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Amy Myers worked as a director in a London publishing firm, before realising her dream to become a writer. Her first series featured detective, August Didier, a half French, half English master chef in late Victorian and Edwardian times. She writes a series with her American husband James Myers, featuring Jack Colby, car detective, there are 5 books in the series. Her most recent series is set post WW1 and the first book is  Dancing With Death, published January 2017.  Amy also writes historical novels and suspense under the name Harriet Hudson.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.

Read a review of Carol’s latest book
The Fragility of Poppies

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