The Golden Hour

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

The Golden Hour is the fourth book in the 'Lady Evelyn' mystery series, a cross between a historical fiction and cozy, written by Malia Zaidi. In this latest caper, Lady Evelyn travels to Scotland to keep watch over her aunt who's been acting stranger than usual. Within a few days, a young maid is found murdered in the gardens and an unsolved murder from years ago resurfaces. Both have connections to her family, and Evie (a nickname for Lady Evelyn, by some) won't leave the situation alone. Amidst the staff and a neighboring home for veterans of the war, our culprits also include Evie's aunt, uncle, and maternal cousins. Which one of the entire lot is guilty?

Zaidi achieves a perfect balance of historical details and dialog to transport readers to the setting, both Scotland and the 1920s. Through Lady Evelyn's charm and wit, she easily elicits all the information she needs to decide who is telling her the truth and who is trying to keep her in the dark. Daniel, her sort-of-not-really-yet fiance, remains behind in London until the very end, allowing her to investigate as she sees fit. Even Briony, another paternal cousin, doesn't make the trip to Scotland, so we're introduced to all new characters, including Aunt Agnes, the woman who raised Evie as well as a woman we've known very little about. Now, we do... and there's a striking balance of old schoolmarm and loving aunt mixed about. I love her character the most, I think.

This series is strong. Although it's on the longer side (page count) and has a large amount of description about the times / locations, it's charismatic and engaging. It won't be read in one setting, but you can push through in a few, enjoying each trip to a different aspect of life the main character experiences. Sometimes it's like Downton Abbey, others it's more like an Austen novel in terms of how the story is told. Either way, I'm a huge fan, and I really enjoy learning as much as about this historical setting as I do solving the murders.

In this one, we have lots of little twists to keep us guessing, and in the end, I did figure out the suspect before Lady Evelyn... but only because I've read so many books in these genres, I'm getting good at my educated guessing! LOL Nonetheless, I am sad to wait for the next one, as I'm caught up in this series now... and this book has only been out for a few weeks. Oh well... I'll carry on, but I'll be among the first to get the 5th whenever it's released.
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With realistic family dynamics, The Golden Hour depicts a European family who has dealt with loss and is planning a wedding within the younger generation. Of the three matriarchs, one has died. Our main character lost her mother at a young age and was raised by an aunt, yet feels the other aunt must have been more like her mother. When this aunt shows signs of mental decline, our main character is called in by the bride-to-be for support.
While a bit slow-moving, the book is beautifully written.
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The Golden Hour (Lady Evelyn Mystery #4)
by Malia Zaidi (Goodreads Author)

Paperback, 398 pages
Published March 26th 2019 by BookBaby


Goodreads synopsis:
Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch. Adding to the tension in the house a neighbor has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder? A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park's May Day celebration awakens Evelyn's sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own. With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.

***

4 Stars

This is the fourth book in the Lady Evelyn mystery series set in 1927. This is my first foray into this breathtaking series and I was not disappointed. Loved the lushness of the scenery and how detailed it all was to behold. Just great.

The backdrop waffles between the UK and Scotland and relies on a lot of narrative and description. So, if you don’t like an overly wordy book, this one might not be for you. But the complex detailed mystery surely makes up for the nearly 400 pages of text.

All the characters are fully crafted probably due to the fact this is book 4 in a series. Lady Evelyn was a compelling main character that held the plot together. There were a couple of stretches in logic when connecting points of the mystery near the end but overall a wonderful new author for me. Looking forward to reading other titles from her.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.
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A great cozy with a very independent women protagonist in the 1920's.  It is set in that time period where women are just gaining some independence but the social manners are still being observed.  there are a lot of suspects in this small village and rural area of Scotland after a your servant girl is murdered at a Mayday celebration.  Lots of twists and false clues that really keep you guessing for a surprise ending.
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I received this ARC via Netgalley and BookBaby in return for an honest review.  Although this isn't the first in this series, I had no trouble following the storyline.  Lady Evelyn is contacted by her cousin, Gemma, and asked to come to Scotland as quickly as possible.  Gemma's mother, the sister to Lady Evelyn's deceased mother, had been in varying levels of depression since Evelyn's parents were killed while Evelyn was very young, along with the death of Gemma's brother, Hamish.  Since Gemma is engaged to be married, she's seeking Evelyn's help to ensure all goes well.  Evelyn, escorted by the rather dour third sister, Aunt Agnes, who raised her after her parent's death, heads north right away.  But, upon arrival, her aunt takes her to the neighboring estate that is being used as a retreat to help physically and mentally damaged soldiers from the Great War.  While there, her aunt's depression and lethargy fall away, as it is revealed that she is supporting the rehabilitation work to her family's dismay.  During a garden fete, a young woman is killed and Lady Evelyn seeks to find the killer.  The discussion surrounding war's debilitating impacts and other socially sensitive topics at the end of the Great War are integral parts of this story.  I wouldn't classify this as a traditional cosy as it's a bit too dark for my tastes.   The story is well written and the author does well rounded characterizations.
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April 1927 and Lady Evelyn Carlisle receives a call to urgently travel to Malma Manor, near Falkland as her cousin Gemma is concerned about her own mother. But things are not what they seem, and which are made worse by one of their neighbours at Elderbrooke Park making his home into a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. At an opening day, a body is discovered by Lady Evelyn and she is determined to help catch the guilty party.
Another slow placed, well-written mystery. An entertaining read with its varied and well-developed characters..
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3.5 stars
This is a darker mystery than the cozy read that I expected.  This is my first Lady Evelyn mystery but I had no problems keeping up with it. It's set in Scotland with Evelyn's aunt and cousins so it makes a nice setting. It started slowly for me but once it got going, the action moved right along.  A nice mystery that kept me guessing.

  Thanks to Net Galley and the author, Malia Zaidi, for a copy of this enjoyable read.
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A good book, entertaining and engaging.
I loved the plot, the well written cast of characters and the setting.
The plot is somehow darker than the usual cozy mystery but this makes the book more interesting.
Even if its the 4th in a series I had no problems in understanding the plot and the characters.
I will surely look for other books in this series.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I must confess that even though this is book number four in the series, it is my first time tagging along with Lady Evelyn Carlisle on her adventures. This puts me at an obvious disadvantage, having to play catch up with characters who have been developed in three other books. However, Zaidi’s writing immediately allayed my worries.

She consistently feeds context on relationships and bridges the gap for new readers. Zaidi is meticulous when it comes to painting the backdrop in her novel, with rich descriptions of “inky blue” skies and fields of “fragrant wildflowers” – it all sounds so pretty. Most of the time I find myself swept away in the imagery that her words conjure, then I remember the mystery at the heart of this, which needs more of my attention.

Her chosen first person narrative also makes it easier for her to build context, as it comes across as sharing rather than telling. It was a bit difficult to submerge myself in Evelyn’s narrative initially because she is so posh and formal sounding. As I grew accustomed to her style, I admired her vivid mind and independent streak – but that is as far as her relatability travels. If I were to be critical, I would say her life seems a bit too perfect, with her tragic backstory of losing her parents when young as the only blight in her otherwise fabulous life. She is also lacking in faults, always pondering a moral lens and petting herself on the back for her do-gooder ways.

It all begins when Evelyn gets a call from her cousin Gemma, requesting her assistance with Gemma’s mother, known to Evelyn as Aunt Iris. Gemma is concerned about her mother’s sudden shift in behaviour, where she seems despondent and forgetful most of the time. Evelyn, with her Aunt Agnes in tow, travels all the way to Falkland, Scotland to check in on Iris. We are shown the very different relationships Evelyn has with both aunts. With her mom gone, her mom’s sisters (Agnes and Iris) stepped in to fill her shoes. Evelyn gets along more with her aunt Iris, which is a sore point for Agnes, since she is the aunt who raised her. It is nice to see Evelyn’s opinion of Agnes change a little during their journey, recognising that while they may be very different people, Agnes is the closest thing she has to a mother.

After their arrival in Scotland, Evelyn goes about her task of finding out what ails her aunt Iris. Though we discover the reason behind her erratic behaviour, things still don’t seem right. Evelyn has her suspicions about Randolph Tallis, owner of Elderbrooke Park and a benefactor of sorts to war veterans. Are his actions truly benevolent or is there more to the story than meets the eye? Adding on to that is Evelyn stumbling, quite literally, upon a dead body.

Usually with these mystery type novels, the action moves faster. Zaidi’s novel exists in opposition to this. It is slow and meandering, delving deeper into the family drama more than the murder mystery hand. Evelyn has a curious mind, but she cannot appear too overt in her investigation, so we are exposed to a kind of Austen set-up, where characters are adept at visiting and drinking tea in company. For all the placid and pleasant surface that is Falkland, underneath lies dark truths. The murder of a young woman at Elderbrooke park is not the first murder to occur around these parts, elevating what initially seemed isolated to something infinitely more sinister.

“Who could it be?” I ask myself as the pages spun in my hand. We are given the usual buffet of possible suspects with the requisite fake-out attached to most. Even Evelyn’s relatives are not spared from the suspect pool. It is near impossible to know who did it, or maybe I am not the most skilled detective, so I follow along, drawn in more by the peeled-back relationships than the mystery at hand. The premise of the series, which is the lead protagonist happening upon dead bodies and deciding to follow up with the case, reminds me of Dorothy Howell’s Haley Randolph series – though the latter is campy and lighthearted.

There are aspects that I am curious to know more of, namely Evelyn’s acquaintance with her beau Daniel. Their relationship has piqued my interest, so I might drop in on one of the earlier books to see how it all panned out. Zaidi has done a commendable job with her supporting characters, developing them to be more than their surface – Gemma is more than her frivolous self, Teddy (Gemma’s brother) is more than the heartbreaker ladies’ man. I guess I just wish I felt a bit more for the heroine.
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The Golden Hour by Malia Zaidi is the fourth book in Lady Evelyn Mystery series but can be read as a standalone.
This is the first book I have read in the series and I had no problem following the story, as all previous references were clearly explained. 

As soon as Lady Evelyn returns to London she is immediately summoned to Scotland by her cousin Gemma, who  is not only getting married very soon but has problems with her mother's state of mind.
Arriving with her aunt Agnes they find the situation very peculiar. Not only are some members acting funny, but her aunt appears not to be depressed at all. She has found the new purpose in life, to jointly support and run a retreat for artistic veterans with the next door neighbor. Needless to say this doesn't sit well with the rest of the family. Also it seems that Gemma's fiance is too good to be true. But when the accident happens on the day of the celebration, Evelyn will try to discover the truth. However she will find out more than she has bargained for.

The characters are well developed and realistic. The setting is beautiful and the atmosphere is so well depicted that you can feel the gloominess that takes over the house and its residents. 
I found it very depressing and dark, that undercurrent of mental issues and feeling that something really dark is lurking under the surface waiting to come out. 
I liked the main character very much, her strength, her sharp mind and cheerful nature. 
The mystery was cleverly plotted and executed. I will continue to follow this series and will go back and read the previous installments.
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