Murder by Candlelight
by Faith Martin
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Pub Date 04 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 28 Dec 2023
HQ, HQ Digital
‘The perfect village mystery. A golden-age world with an energy that is totally contemporary’ J.M. Hall, author of A Spoonful of Murder
‘All the ingredients of a classic mystery… enormous fun’ Orlando Murrin, author of Knife Skills for Beginners
The Cotswolds, 1924. At the Old Forge in the quiet village of Maybury-in-the-Marsh a cry of anguish rings out: lady of the house Amy Phelps has been discovered dead. But with all the windows and doors to her room locked from inside, how – and by whom – was she killed?
Arbuthnot ‘Arbie’ Swift finds himself in the unlikely position of detective. The celebrated author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Ghost-Hunting is staying at the Old Forge to investigate a suspected spectre, but now the more pressing matter of Amy’s murder falls to him too.
With old friend Val, he soon uncovers a sorry tale of altered wills, secret love affairs and tragic losses – and plenty of motives for murder. When events take another sinister turn, Arbie must find the killer, fast. And to do so will mean cracking a most perfectly plotted crime…
Perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club, The Appeal and The Marlow Murder Club, don’t miss this stunning new series from the multi-million bestselling author!Readers LOVE Murder by Candlelight!
‘I absolutely loved this… The story grabbed me from the beginning and I devoured it.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘A beautifully constructed puzzle… I so hope this will be the start of a series.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Very entertaining… Full of red herrings, plot twists and turns. I thought I knew who was the killer but I was wrong.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘What an utterly delightful and clever mystery… I highly recommend this book.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Terrifically good, and just great fun!… All of the clues are provided, but so are a number of very good red herrings… I can’t wait to see more of Arbie and Val.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘WOW. I loved this book.’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Absolutely perfect! This is the book I have been craving since I last read the Thursday Murder Club series!’ NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 191 members
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Faith Martin has done it again! This cozy detective story set in the 1920’s Cotswolds has everything that an die-hard Agatha Christie fan would appreciate: a locked room murder, a wealthy victim, multiple suspects, an eccentric uncle, and a gossipy village. Arbie Swift, who has recently written the much lauded A Gentleman's Guide to Ghost Hunting, reluctantly agrees investigate a ghost threatening the village’s wealthiest ramrod spinster. Along the way Val, the Vicar’s eldest and no-nonsense daughter joins in on the investigation and hijinks ensue.
Reading this book was fun — the characters were developed and the crime and its solution are very clever. If a sleuthing reader wants to solve the mystery themselves, they will have a full command of the necessary clues. While I was ultimately able to guess the murderer correctly, I couldn’t determine how the crime was committed. I’m hopeful that Arbie and Val will be back in a full fledged series after this installment.
A word of advice to fans of Faith Martin’s other series like Ryder & Loveday or Hillary Martin: read this! You’ll enjoy it!
Murder Most Foul In Maybury..
The first in a new series, Cotswolds set 1924. and the usually peaceful, serene and idyllic village of Maybury-in-the-Marsh is about to experience a very nasty dose indeed of murder most foul. Locked rooms, ghost hunters, detectives, motives and suspects abound as things get more complicated by the minute. A tremendously enjoyable mystery in traditional vein with a deliciously eccentric and eclectic cast of characters and a plot laced with red herrings aplenty. The next in series is eagerly anticipated.
Celebrated ghost-hunter Arbie Swift finds himself having to solve a locked room murder in a sleepy Cotswold village with his friend sassy Val.. Twists and turns abound and there's no shortage of suspects. If you're a fan of Agatha Christie or Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club books, you'll enjoy this.
historical-novel, Cotswolds, new-series, first-in-series, amateur-sleuth, 1924, author, friends, friendship, relatives, friction, gossip, ghosts, ghost-hunting, murder, murder-investigation, local-law-enforcement, locked-room-mystery, poisons, inheritance, suspense, situational-humor, sly-humor, village*****
Hoist on his own petard.
Once he published his book (rather under protest) he became the go-to person for a local wealthy spinster who believed that the family ghost might be afoot. Or not. His long time friend (and occasional nemesis), Val, joins in the fun and aggravation. Alas, a murder does occur and then he is pushed into becoming an amateur sleuth while the whole village has a gossip feast. Great fun and full of tongue-in-cheek humor. Loved it!
I requested and received an EARC from HQ Digital via NetGalley. Thank you!
This was such a fun read, and I’m happy to have discovered this new-to-me author! Dare I say, I hope this is the start of a new series?!
There were three elements that I enjoyed most about this historical mystery…writing, characters, and plot. The writing itself was lovely with lots of wonderful detail, accurate historical tidbits, and humorous sly wit. The characters, especially the protagonists, Arbuthnot (Arbie) Lancelot Swift and Valentina (Val) Olivia Charlotte Coulton-James, were well and delightfully drawn, quirky and with just the right amount of muddling to keep them lovable but not annoying. I liked that they shared a history of growing up together and how they knew each other so well under the surface. The plot was engaging, from the ghostly doings to the secrets discovered and the final denouement...it was entertaining and mostly believable. My favorite takeaway however were Arbie’s and Val’s personalities. Arbie’s put-upon reactions to his accidental fame were a riot, and Val’s strong, no-nonsense demeanor (especially in dealing with Arbie) was both refreshing and endearing.
I do plan to check out this author's backlist as I thoroughly enjoyed this light-hearted, locked-door mystery and do hope that this is not the last we’ll see of this dynamic duo.
My thanks to the author, NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing the free early arc of Murder by Candlelight for review. The opinions are strictly my own.
Found on netgalley. Drawn to it by the blurb.
Kinda gave off some feelings of Nancy drew a bit but I also liked how the story was. Abostly enjoyed reading this book. Will be checking out this authors other books. 5 star book.
Kept me pulled into it. Couldn't put it down at all. Told a few people that they need to read this book and hopefully they do.
Enjoyable and fast read. I really loved reading this book over some tea and visualizing all that Martin has to offer.
I received an ARC and the review posted is honest.
Thoroughly enjoyable in the classic whodunnit in the English tradition. Loads of low-key humour and some fine irony. Writing style rhyming well to the 1920s setting, with well brought-to-life comedic set scenes.
The young (22) sleuthing couple, Arbuthnot Lancelot Swift and Valentina Olivia Charlotte Coulton-James (to give their full and very proper names) aka Arbie and Val, are a rather good creation. The novel's storyline makes them join forces to answer Miss Phelps' (the grand dame of Maybury-in-the-Marsh (!)) call for help. Their childhood friendship and this sudden partnerships makes from some entertaining parring; their story could (and should!) be developed in further.
The plot of this fine entertainment revolves around ghosts... and murder, of course. The clues are clear; the characters, well defined; the ways and means, described without cheating. Red herrings are supplied in adequate doses. The police counterpart, Inspector Bernard Gorring, is a benign authority figure, in a polite an intelligent vein. All the characters, be them of criminal interest or just background colour, are brought to life succinctly but convincingly.
I enjoyed this divertimento a lot and can recommend it without hesitation if what is desired is to spend some hours in a quirky, fun and charming world. I definitely will be seeking to read the next in the series!
This cozy English murder mystery is absolutely perfect! This is The book I have been craving since I last read the Thursday Murder Clumub Series!
I just reviewed Murder By Candlelight by Faith Martin. #MurderByCandlelight #NetGalley
WOW. I loved this book. Firstly it is not my normal choice but I have read other books by this author so I thought I would give it a try. I loved the characters and the story flowed well. I also loved the setting, which is not overdone, like some books, where it is all about the town / countryside. It is well written and the characters are thoughtfully planned. ( and i could not anticipate the name of the boat, great choice!) I cant wait for the next installment.
Do ghostly goings-on account for the sudden death of Miss Amy Phelps after hosting a dinner party at her home, the Old Forge? Arbie Swift and his friend Val Coulton-James don’t think so after they conduct some overnight ghost-watches, and turn their attentions to everyone’s motivations. I really enjoyed the nuanced period details of life in the village and at the country house, and that the resolution was thoroughly grounded in the clues. This captivating locked-room mystery evokes the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, and should appeal to fans of Agatha Christie, Ngoako Marsh, and also P.G. Wodehouse. Will we read more exploits involving Arbie and Val? I certainly hope so.
This is the first book in a new historical cozy and it's an excellent start as I was hooked since the beginning.
There's an echo of Woodhouse, The Importance of Being Earnest, and some of the lighter golden age mysteries.
Arby and Val are an intriguing couple and I loved them: he's a well plotted character with a an interesting background and a ghost expert by chance. Val is a strong and clever women that knows what she wants.
The cast of characters is well developed and they could have been written by a Sayers or a Allingham.
A solid mystery, lot of humour, a cast of interesting characters.
I hope there's going to be a lot of books in this series, this one is compelling and highly entertaining.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
What a delightfully clever and witty story. I loved the setting and the author style of writting.
This book is a murder mystery with a ghostly feel. It would seem that a ghost is harassing the owner of the Old Forge and therefore the protagonist of the book, having some experience with this, due to his published book, "The Gentleman's guide to good ghost hunting", is asked to stay overnight to investigate. But the owner of the house, Amy Phelps, is found dead. Soon it is revealed that she was murder.
I love this book it was very entertaining. I liked the setting, and the language used was very funny. The authors style of writting is very precise in her description of the town and its people. I was completely submerged in the story and could not put it down wanting to know who done it and why.
When all was said and done the revelation was a surprise to me because the whole time I thought it was someone else.
Mrs. Faith Martin is a fantastic writer. This book was
Well done and I highly recommend it.
Oh, hello, Mr Swift, might I just have a quick word with you about my ghost?’
Arbuthnot Lancelot Swift—known to all as Arbie—would rather be indulging in a spot of fishing. But as the author of the bestselling book The Gentleman’s Guide to Good Ghost Hunting he can’t ignore this request, especially when it comes from the usually very imperious Miss Amy Phelps. And so, he soon finds himself promising to investigate her ghostly difficulties—with the help of his childhood friend Val. But his hopes of this being nothing more than the wind blowing or a tree twig scratching are dashed when Miss Phelps is found dead in her locked bedroom. Now instead of investigating a ghost, it falls to Arbie to solve a murder.
Having read Martin’s police procedurals (the DI Hillary Greene and Ryder & Loveday series) I was really surprised by this new series concept. But let me just say that this is terrifically good, and just great fun!
Martin has tapped into the Golden Age of Detective Fiction vibe quite nicely. She’s given us an ingeniously plotted mystery, with a dysfunctional family and old family friends that make for a deep well of suspects. All of the clues are provided, but so are a number of very good red herrings, making it difficult for the reader to figure out who the murderer is. I waffled back and forth right up to the end.
And I absolutely loved these characters. No one expects much of Arbie, not even Arbie, who is well known for his sense of self-preservation and ability “to do the bare minimum required and then make a graceful exit.” But Martin supplies him with a sense of responsibility, the ability to see what others do not, to read situations, and Valentina Olivia Charlotte Coulton-James. Val knows Arbie well enough to know he’d rather not be involved, so makes it her job to assure that he will (with her help of course) find the murderer.
Such a fun and entertaining read. Likable characters, excellent storytelling, and an interesting murder mystery to keep one guessing till the end. I hope this is the start of a new series because I can’t wait to see more of Arbie and Val.
A Golden Age style locked room mystery, this was very entertaining. It features a n appealing amateur detective, several twists, some good humor,and a satisfying solution. Highly recommended!
What an utterly delightful and clever mystery we have here. Allow me to set the scene.
The year is 1924 and we find ourselves in Maybury-in-the-Marsh in the middle of the Cotswolds. Mr. Arbuthnot (Arbi) Lancelot Swift is a young man of independent means who has been raised by his eccentric uncle and has recently acquired a minor form of celebrity after writing and publishing a book titled A Gentleman’s Guide to Ghost-Hunting. As far as Arbi is concerned, the book and its subject are mostly a joke, but he isn’t overly surprised when he’s approached by Miss Amy Phelps, a local spinster who asks him to inspect the Old Forge, her manor house. She has been plagued by mysterious noises and occurrences lately and wants to get to the bottom of what is going on.
Arbi, is less than enthusiastic about the prospect since he had other, far more relaxing plans for his days and nights.
‘Whilst it behoved one to help out one’s neighbours when called upon, of course, it was not something a chap actively encouraged.’
He is about to worm his way out of this invitation but finds his escape route blocked by Valentina Olivia Charlotte Coulton-James, the vicar’s daughter who is also a lifelong acquaintance of Arbi’s. Unsurprisingly, her curiosity is piqued as soon as she hears the words ‘ghostly goings on’ and next thing Arbi knows, she’s accepted an invitation to tea at the Old Forge for both of them.
At the Old Forge, Arbi and Valentina meet the other inhabitants of the big house. There is Jane Brockhurst, Miss Phelps’ housekeeper of about 30 years, Mrs. Cora Delaney, Miss Phelps friend, Reggie Bickersworth, another houseguest, Phyllis Thomas, Miss Phelp’s niece and Murray Phelps, her nephew.
While Arbi and Valentina’s initial night-time investigation reveals nothing, a later over-night vigil at the Old Forge ends with Miss Phelps found murdered in her bed. The question of who might have killed her is overshadowed by the mystery as to how it was done since her bedroom was locked…from the inside. Unable to resist temptation, Arbi and Valentina decide to investigate what happened while trying not to get in the way of, or send away by Inspector Bernard Gorringe.
I would love to get into the ins and outs of Arbi and Valentina’s journey to the solution. It’s filled with clues, red herrings, wonderful dialogue, and delicious sniping between our two amateur investigators. But no matter how much fun it would be to share those wonders with you, it would also thoroughly spoil the story, so I’ll reign myself in and stop my summary here.
What I can say is that Murder by Candelight is delightful book. From the very start of this story, I recognised how closely it matches mysteries written during the Golden Age of Mystery by authors such as Agatha Christie. The manor house setting combined with the locked room closed circle set-up took me right back to that era of amazing whodunnits. I smiled widely when Arbi says something similar while referring to ‘that Belgian chap with spats. You know, the one in the books. With his grey cells’. Having said that, Albie and Valentina reminded me of Tommy and Tuppence more than Hercule Poirot.
I do hope that Arbi and Valentina will follow in Tommy and Tuppence’s footsteps and involve themselves in further mysteries. They are wonderful together. I loved the way they snipe at each other, how much the exasperate each other, and how it is obvious to all except the persons in question that their feelings go much deeper than they are willing to acknowledge.
Apart from being an amazing and well plotted mystery, Murder by Candlelight is also very well written, filled with fascinating characters and sparkling dialogue, and a very smooth and hard to put down story. I liked that the point of view changed between players in this story, allowing me to get a better idea of who the participants were and of their motivations, although I can’t say it also helped me figure out the solution before it was presented.
Long review short: Murder by Candlelight is a delightful traditional locked room mystery. The (main) characters are fascinating, the police inspector not as foolish as we sometimes see, and the clues and red herrings kept me on my toes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Golden-Age-of-Mystery-style books.
Really enjoyable well written story. The characters jumped from the pages and were written with an expert attention to detail. I didn’t guess the baddie in this stylish, witty 1920’s mystery. Would totally recommend. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me access to an early copy of this book.
Thank you NetGalley and HQ for the advance early copy for me to read and review.
Arbie Swift, a published author of The Gentleman's Guide to Ghost Hunting, is asked by a neighbour, Amy Phelps, to visit her home The Old Forge to look for a ghost. An old school friend, Valentina, overhears the conversation and decided that she wants to help out as well. One night, Amy is found murdered in her bedroom with the windows and door locked. Then her niece and heir is found murdered too. Arbie and Val investigate with gusto much to the amusement off Inspector Gorringe.
The story is very entertaining to read and is full of red herrings, plot twists and turns. I thought I knew who would the killer but I was wrong. The story ends with a bang!
This story reminded me so much of Agatha Christies' work.
A good well thought out murder mystery set in the past, Not as gruesome as more modern stories,Set in a family whose fortune is controlled by an elderly woman . just who will benefit from her death and also the subsequent death of her niece who gained control of the wealth after her aunt's demise, How were both deaths done so as to not to appear suspicious.
This was a cozy mystery set in the 1920s in the Cotswolds. I wasn't quite sure if I would enjoy it at the beginning but I actually did. Now Mr Swift can start his new book on The Old Forge and who killed the grand lady Amy Phelps. Very good plot, even I didn't have a clue!
Thank you to Netgalley
I do hope this is the start of a series of books featuring Arbie Swift as a ghost hunter/detective, with the vicars daughter Val as his sidekick.
Set in the Cotswolds, the Old Forge house in a quiet village is the location for a locked room murder.. Arbie thought he was invited to the house for a spot of ghost hunting, but his visit turned out to be much more puzzling, can ghosts commit murder? There are plenty of suspects and motives, old resentments and love affairs are brought to light, along with many red herrings.
This is a delightful mystery, a plot with twists and turns kept me guessing until the end.
This was a modern Agatha Christie which was very well developed and when the bits are gradually revealed I just kept thinking of course and why did i not see it before hand. The characters were wonderfully escribed as was the setting.
It was an interesting read with many funny parts when Faith was describing the reaction of some of the people. Each of the characters were given very distinct personalities that fitted there roles in the story very well.
Loved all the intrigue that surrounded the different characters and made the plot a good read.
Nice and convoluted cosy murder mystery set in the 1920s. Good fun and interesting. Made me laugh out loud at the antics of some of the well drawn cast members. An ingenious plot too.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher I read a free advance review copy of the book. This review is voluntary, honest and my own opinion.
Yep, Ms Martin has done it again. Another cozy murder mystery set 100 years ago (or it will be when it is released next year. Set in a quaint 1920’s Cotswolds, village. This has it all ' a locked room murder, a wealthy victim, eccentric uncles, village gossip, loads of suspects. Arbie Swift, has recently written a popular book- A Gentleman's Guide to Ghost Hunting, is persuaded, reluctantly to investigate a ghost allegedly threatening the village’s wealthiest spinster. He is ably assisted by the vicars, daughter, who doesn't take any nonsense. .
This was an enjoyable and fun read, with brilliant characters. The crime and its solution were very cleverly thought out and explained. Readers will immerse themselves in the .atmosphere of the period as they try to unravel the many clues and identify the red herrings.
I really hope this the start of another wonderful series by Ms Martin
A delicious blend of an Agatha Christie type plot with a Bertie Wooster type character! I loved this.
Set in the 1920's we are introduced to the eminently likeable, and renowned ghost hunter, Arbuthnot Swift and the local vicar's daughter, Valentina Coulton-James. Together they help solve a seemingly impossible closed-setting murder mystery in a small village, with all the style and panache you would expect from a novel set in this period.
This is a page-turning delight with an ending that doesn't disappoint. Highly recommended!
Brilliant!!! Absolutely loved every second of this book, I couldn’t wait to find out who did it.
The hilarious Arbie Swift who just wants to mess around all summer but finds himself bullied by friends and the fantastically terrifying Val into doing what they want and disrupting his lazy plans….
So, after being accosted by yet another terrifying lady, Arbie and Val find themselves sitting waiting for a ghost…then things take a turn for the worse….murder…
Who did it?!!
This is absolutely hilarious, the characters are all fantastic, and it had me turning the pages at a rate of knots.
My thanks to Netgalley and HQ for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Another great read by Faith Martin!
Had I seen the description of this novel by another author I would have been reluctant to read as cosy, historical, detective novels are a hard genre to get right. The main concern for this genre from reading other authors is that you struggle to like the characters and rarely feel that the novels have a flow that makes you want to keep reading. I was right to assume that Faith Martin would be able to handle this and you find yourself liking, being amused and swept along by the characters of Arbie and Val.
Set in the late 1920s, we are introduced to wealthy Amy Phelps, owner of The Old Forge who has some out of character concerns about ghostly occurrences in the dead of night including the tinkling of a bell. Amy accosts Arbie Swift author of the successful 'The Gentleman's Guide to Ghost-Hunting', who in an attempt to get out of this assignment, involves the passing, irritating Vicar's daughter Val. Contrary to getting Arbie out of his predicament (after all 'The Gentleman's Guide' never actually finds ghost and is more of a travel diary), Val jumps at the chance to do a little ghost-hunting.
Through their midnight antics, Arbie find themselves investigating something much more sinister than ghosts as the tale of what was really happening and why unfolds. The local Police detective likes Arbie and Val and quickly discounts them from being murderers but its now a concerted effort to find out who is really the murderer before the death count rises further.
Lots of twists and turns with quite a few surprises lead to the unmasking of the killer whilst a really quite annoyed, love-struck Val is left out of the final revelations. I hope Arbie gets to make this up to Val and they will team up in a new investigative installment!
The setting of this book is very atmospheric- transporting you right back to the 1920s in fashion, attitude and society.
With an overarching "exorcise my ghost" invitation to the old forge, on the back of a tongue in cheek travel guide to haunted holiday spots, Arbie is a somewhat haphazard hero, aspiring to reach the heights of Holmes perhaps but never quite getting there. Nevertheless in partnership with Val, old friend and pillar of the community, he finds himself investigate a locked room mystery and with twists and revelations aplenty the story carries itself at a gentle but eminently readable pace.
Really enjoyed this book, it could be classed as a cosy murder mystery. Set in the 1920's with great characterisation with language, phrases and references of that time. Very Agatha Christie like with mentions of the great lady in the storyline. It features a locked door mystery with many twists and turns that keeps you page turning to the final outcome.
I would certainly recommend this book and hope to read more of these characters.
Murder by Candlelight is a murder mystery set in 1920's rural England and it beautifully blends the worlds of "Queen of Crime" Agatha Christie with "Comic Genius" P.G.Wodehouse.
A locked room, a despicable murder and a recently changed will all add up to a finely plotted mystery with plenty of suspects and the obligatory red herrings to keep you guessing
The characters are fun, the dialog is perfect for the era and the main sleuth evokes fond memories of Bertie Wooster.
I loved everything about this whodunit and stayed up to the wee hours in order to finish it.
Top Hole! A spiffing read
What a delicious read! An Agatha Christie-type country house murder mystery, set in the Cotswolds in 1924, with a dash of PG Wodehouse evident in the two lead characters, the amateur sleuths Arbuthnot Lancelot Swift and Valentina Charlotte Coulton-James. All the elements one could wish for in the genre are here - a mysterious death, a locked room, a bunch of potential killers, a perhaps-too-obvious main suspect, a doughty policeman, a shoal of red herrings, etc. The elegant writing, the intricate but credible plot and the cast of eccentric characters are all delightfully crafted and wonderfully rewarding. I really hope this is the start of a series featuring the wholly engaging Arbie and Val.
This “locked room” murder mystery is a quick, fun read. All the clues are there, and of course I missed nearly every one of them. The characters are well-drawn, and mostly likeable, and the 1920s Cotswold setting equally well portrayed.
“Murder by Candlelight” is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I hope it will be the first in a series featuring these two very engaging amateur sleuths. Whilst I’m waiting for the next (I hope) in this series I shall catch up on the author’s previous novels.
I loved this book! The main characters are endearing, and the plot is a good one. I found it a real page-turner, and I hope to read more about Arbie and Val
This is a really good murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie which I really enjoyed. The ending was quite unexpected and there were plenty of twists and turns along the way. The title is brilliant given how the plot ends.
I think this will be a popular read.
Really enjoyed this title - felt just like reading a classic detective story from the Golden Age, similar to Margery Allingham or Edmund Crispin. I'd definitely recommend this to fans of the genre and I hope there are more coming from Faith Martin in the future!
Really enjoyed Murder by Candelight as love a good murder mystery particulary if they are written in the traditional sense (probably why I love playing Cludeo).
With a carefully woven plot, intriguing characters, and a relentless pursuit of truth, it successfully delivers the suspense and thrill expected of a great murder mystery. I will be checking out other books by Faith Martin for sure!