Cover Image: Murder at the Mena House

Murder at the Mena House

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A great adventure mystery that I really enjoyed reading. The mystery itself kept me quessing, though I wish the book had been longer
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Jane Wunderly is Not Like The Other Girls. Other girls dress up in ridiculously revealing dresses to impress men like whores. Jane has no interest in men.

Except for Mr. Redvers. I mean he doesn’t even tell her his first name, quite obviously lies to her or at least evades her questions but that doesn’t stop Jane from swooning about him while still insisting that she doesn’t need no men. Can we just stop with that? Either give me a character who says she has no interest in relationships and then sticks to it or one who says “Yeah. I want to marry (again) but I don’t want the first guy my overenthusiastic relatives who all think a woman without a man is worthless throw at me. I want to marry someone I actually care about.” In historicals that would still be unusual enough and would not give us the moral of “Actually, everyone wants a relationship and all those who say they don’t, just haven’t realized it, yet.”

So, no, I wasn’t a fan of the setup of the blossoming romance. Especially since, as mentioned, I saw no reason why she should even trust him…And if possible I was even less a fan of the mystery. I admit I’m already not the biggest fan of “Sleuth starts sleuthing because they/someone close to them is a suspect” but that wasn’t even a particularly well-done variety of that trope. It never feels like the inspector is really serious about his suspicions. He barely plays a part in the novel and the most threatening thing he does is ask her not to leave the hotel for a while. That leaves us with the “Sleuth starts sleuthing because they totally know better than the stupid police” trope, except that you could even argue that it’s not Jane doing the sleuthing but her mouth. Without her agreement. Yes, the phrase “And before I could stop myself I found myself saying X” gets overused in this book. Oh and what she finds herself saying is usually stuff she strictly speaking shouldn’t know and occasionally she does it while being alone with the suspect. Yes, Jane is one of the people you find pictured in the dictionary next to “Too Stupid Too Live”. But she still somehow survives…and solves everything thanks to a string of ridiculous coincidences. Because that what sleuths in bad cozy mysteries always do.

ARC received from NetGalley
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This mystery combines two of my great loves-- the 1920s and Egypt. American Jane Wunderly accompanies her wealthy Aunt Millie on a trip to Cairo. Aunt Millie is a trial and is thrilled that she now has access to quality liquor rather than the bathtub rotgut produced in America. They've settled at the Mena House and soon meet their fellow hotel guests.  Included in the cast of characters is Colonel Stainton and his prickly, but beautiful, daughter, Anna, and newlyweds, Charlie and Deanna. A handsome banker named Redvers soon has his eye on Jane, and filling out the cast is the slightly oily and mysterious Amon. 

Jane isn't interested in romance despite attention from Redvers and Amon. A widow whose own marriage proved not to be the fairy tale she had believed it would be, Jane will entertain a mild flirtation, but nothing more.  She is a single, independent woman trying to enjoy a trip abroad.  

Murder disrupts Jane's plans when she finds Anna murdered in her hotel room. The local police believe Jane may have played a part in Anna's demise, and she is now confined to the hotel. Unable to tour the much-anticipated pyramids, Jane vows to clear her name. As she picks away at Anna's life, she discovers that no one is who they say they are.  It appears everyone has a secret, including dear old Aunt Millie. 

Redvers, handsome and roguish, becomes the unofficial aide due camp in Jane's investigation. She's decided to trust her gut when it comes to Redvers, and her gut says he's trustworthy even if he's lying about being a banker. Soon, another body is found and the heat inside the Mena House matches the broiling temperatures of Egypt. With threats against her own life around every corner, Jane needs to find the killer before they find success in checking her out of the Mena House permanently.

With hints of Agatha Christie mixed with a dash of Elizabeth Peters, this was a roaring success. Jane is determined and fearless, yet not lacking in common sense like so many amateur sleuths. She has a past and is no shrinking violet. Even though it is set in the 1920s, Neubauer has not tried to make Jane a flapper. As Jane herself admits, she is too old to have learned flapper speak. The author has managed to create a thoroughly believable main character.
I'm eagerly waiting (and hoping) there is another book planned with Jane Wunderly. I recommend this book for fans of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear and the Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal.
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I suppose I just have to come to terms with the fact that although I like the idea of the cosy mysteries, most cosy mysteries are not written for me.

Take this one. It is a nice read. I did read the entire book, and it was a pleasant experience. It reads very easy, it kept me good company.
I chose it because of the unusual setting, 1920s Cairo and I have to admit the author did her best to give us a glimpse of the city at the time. Though I have to say that what characterised the town felt a bit pressed onto the story. For example, there’s a chapter about an excursion at the pyramids. Though I did enjoy reading it because it gave me an impression of what the pyramids looked like almost a century ago, I don’t see what it did for the story, since there wasn’t advancement neither in the romance nor in the mystery.

My problem with cosy mysteries, I’m coming to realise, at least most of the historically set that I’ve read recently, is that they are basically romances with an attempt at some mystery.
This was the same. The romance was really the main plot of the story, and though I can hardly judge since I’m not a romance reader, it seemed a bit confused to me. I did like the two characters, they are both nice and sympathetic, there’s good chemistry between them, but it seems like the author created unlikely complications for their relationship. I mean, even I know that romances need complications, but I think that if they had been a bit more substantial, I might have sympathised with the romance a little more.

he mystery was a total mess. It was totally unlikely. There was no reason why Jane and Redverse should start investigating the murder, and the investigation was chancy at best, based on non-existent clues and deduction. I dragged in the middle, as the romance took centre stage, and the end was illogical and felt a lot like an afterthought.
But again, this is probably more my problem than the story, since I took up this cosy mystery thinking it was a ‘mystery’.

It is a nicely-written story, with spank and an intriguing cast of characters. It’s probably a good one for romance readers, but mystery readers may end up finding it not really what they expected.
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Danger, Death And Dubious Dealings.....
1926 Egypt, the luxury Mena House Hotel, socialites, gaiety and charm but amidst this setting lurks danger, death and dubious dealings. The first in a series featuring Jane Wunderly, American abroad and would be amateur sleuth. Entertaining mystery with a glorious setting, a likeable protagonist and a colourful cast of supporting characters and, whilst I was aching for more in the way of ambience given the setting potential, this was still an enjoyable, fun read and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.
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I received this book through NetGalley and found it fun.  Jane Wunderly, who is vacationing at the Mena House along with her aunt, feels compelled to investigate a murder when the police look at her as a possible suspect.  She is joined by Mr. Redvers on her investigation.  She can't quite figure him out, but is drawn to him none the less.  He has something to hide, but then so do a lot of other people staying there -- even Jane herself.  

I enjoyed the mystery although many times I kept worrying about all the trouble Jane was getting herself into -- poking her nose into other people's affairs, breaking into rooms, etc.  This book would be nice to curl up with on a cold snowy day for some adventure in a hot climate.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
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Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer takes place in the early 1920s in Egypt.  Jane Wunderly, a young widow and her sometimes offensive, aunt Millie travel to Egypt to escape Prohibition so Millie can drink other hearts content.  While enjoying their stay at the Mena House, soaking up the sun, visiting the pyramids, a murder is committed and somehow Jane finds herself in the middle of it.

The author’s detailed writing makes it very easy to imagine any place or event that is taking place.  The images of the hotel and the clothing the characters wore were perfect.  However, the character development needed to be drawn out more.  I couldn’t connect with any of them.  The story flowed at a steady pace.  The events and mystery happened in the right places in the story.  Nothing was rushed.

Murder at the Mena is an enjoyable, debut mystery.  

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington for an advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review.A
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It’s the mid-1920s and the awfulness of World War I is behind humanity, but there is plenty of danger and adventure to be found at the Mena House Hotel in Cairo. It’s an upscale destination for travellers from around the world, and Jane Wunderly is there as a guest of her late husband’s Aunt Millie, who is determined to find a new romance for Jane. Jane is resolute to avoid any entanglements, enjoy the holiday and check out the pyramids. But when she meets the enigmatic banker Redvers, Jane can’t help but be intrigued. 

The Mena House Hotel is filled with a wide range of characters--a socialite who demands the spotlight, her retired military father, a creepy playboy who courts wealthy women, a young couple who befriend Jane, and hotel staff and local villagers…and everyone has his or her own secrets. 

When Jane finds herself standing over the body of one of the guests, she’s suddenly defending her innocence as she tries to discover who committed the murder before she loses her freedom. Who can she trust? Who is willing to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit? 

Ms. Neubauer has created a cast of characters who are intriguing and a mystery that has enough twists and turns to keep the reader wondering, as she draws you into the glittering world of the Roaring Twenties.
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3,5 stars 

The American Jane Wunderley is treated to a vacation by her aunt Millie to go to Egypt. Since it's the year 1926 this is a rather long trip from Boston. Jane was married to Millies nephew who died earlier in the Great War. 

During the vacation they're staying at Mena House, a luxury hotel, with guests from all over the world. It's exciting times for Jane, she has dreamt of seeing the pyramids for a long time. But instead of seeing the pyramids, she finds a dead person at the hotel and her vacation is not relaxing any more. 


This is the first book in the new cozy mystery series about Jane Wunderley and I can totally see this being the beginning of a great series. The characters are not just about cozy things, heavier subjects like abuse are a central part of the story. The mystery itself is not the best I’ve read but I didn’t expect it to since it’s a cozy mystery :) 

I recommend this to everyone who likes cozy mysteries!
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The Emersons always stayed at Shepheard’s when they were in Cairo, but I still picked up this book because of my extremely fond memories of Amelia Peabody Emerson and her tribe of family, friends, associates and enemies from her series, which begins in 1884 with Crocodile on the Sandback, and ends with Tomb of the Golden Bird, set in 1922-23 when Amelia would have been 70 or thereabouts. Possibly. She was a bit cagey about her actual age as the numbers rose.

But still, Amelia and her redoubtable husband Radcliffe Emerson were practicing scientific archaeology as well as amateur detecting, through the years when archaeology in Egypt began to shift from treasure hunting to historical fact-finding. An evolution that is still continuing at the time period of Murder at the Mena House.

Jane and Amelia don’t miss each other by much in time – there’s only three years between Amelia’s final bow in 1923 and Jane’s trip to Cairo in 1926 – and they would have enjoyed each other’s company if they had met. Although if they had, Amelia would probably have rescued Jane from her sadistic husband a LOT sooner, instead of waiting for the war to take care of it for her.

While I may have gotten into this because of Amelia, Jane more than carries this story on her own – with able assistance from Mr. Redvers – or the other way around – whatever his name is. It’s fairly obvious to Jane that the handsome Redvers is hiding quite a lot, and not just the question of whether Redvers is his first or last name. Whatever he is, he’s definitely not like any banker that Jane ever met.

But it’s his not-so-well concealed talents that Jane needs when a young woman is murdered at the Mena House – and Jane is the prime suspect.

Jane may have originally come to the Mena House as a companion for her formidable Aunt Millie, but in the wake of that death and the accusation that follows Jane’s mission at the Mena House has multiplied three-fold, if not more.

She needs to clear her name. She wants to figure out who really did murder Anna Stainton, partly to clear herself and partly for the mystery of it. Jane is itching to solve not only that puzzle but all of the other puzzles that ripple out before her, like the identity of the young women that her normally rude and standoffish Aunt has suddenly become so fond of. And then there’s the identify of Mr. Redvers, and his true mission, whatever that might be.

When the murder Jane is accused of tangles itself up with the smugglers that Redvers is trying to catch, the game is definitely afoot. Occasionally camel-foot, but definitely afoot. Also sometimes a-car and a-truck.

Jane is after the murderer, Redvers is after the smuggler, and it begins to look like Jane and Redvers are after each other. If they can get past the many, many lies and half-truths they have told each other in the course of their somewhat impromptu investigation.

If they survive.

Escape Rating B+: Murder at the Mena House is a whole lot of historical cozy mystery fun. And it does a terrific job of opening up this new series. With its meticulous historical details, it also successfully evokes the Golden Age of mystery in which it is set. Poirot would be right at home in the Mena House.

At the same time, this story is written in the 21st century, and like Amelia Peabody written at the end of the 20th, the focus is on its female amateur detective, Jane Wunderly. As a character, Jane makes a good choice for a detective. She’s still relatively young, but as a widow she is less burdened by the restrictions that society placed on young women than she would have been if still unattached.

However, the mystery surrounding her marriage, while easy for the reader to figure out, adds to the depth of her character. She has secrets that, while we may have sussed them out, are not known to her friends and acquaintances, or even her family.

Not that any person in their right mind, as Jane certainly is, would give her Aunt Millie ANY information that could be used later in an attack. Aunt Millie is, frankly, the epitome of an old battle-axe, and the revelations of her own youthful tragedy do not significantly soften her character. Of all of the possible continuing characters for this series, she’s one I hope we don’t see a lot of.

I do hope we see a lot of Redvers, no matter what his name really is. He and Jane form a terrific partnership that contains just the right amount of will they/won’t they. Because Jane has an entire truckload of baggage that she needs to work through in order to be part of a relationship beyond friendship – but she’s getting there.

The mystery in this one, along with the oodles of historical detail, really do sweep the reader back in time and across the ocean to Cairo in the 1920s. In true cozy fashion, there are plenty of red herrings and a ton of misdirection, while at the same time important issues are at least touched on if not dealt with that would not even rate a mention in material actually written at the time this takes place.

And then there’s the antiquities smuggling subplot, which becomes a big part of the main plot. The illicit trade in antiquities – and murder – leads me right back to where I started, with Amelia. She would have been right at home in the Mena House helping Jane investigate this crime spree. I can see the passing of the torch, and I’m so there for it.
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A good historical mystery that I truly enjoyed.
It's well written, the cast of characters is interesting and likeable and the historical background vivid.
The mystery was solid, full of twists and turns, and kept me guessing.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Agatha Christie has been my favorite author since I was 9 years old. So I am definitely a Golden Age Mystery fan. When I first saw the blurb for this book, I was immediately intrigued. Egypt. 1926. Cairo. Fancy Hotel. Murder. Sounds like a setting Agatha would have applauded! So...yep....had to read it! :) 

I'm glad I did! Jane Wunderly and her Aunt Millie are enjoyable characters. The setting and time period made for a great backdrop for a murder mystery. There were plenty of suspects and twists, and the story is well written. Just a very entertaining reading experience for a golden age fan! 

The cover art is very eye-catching! It pulled me right into the story. Awesome artwork! 

Murder at Mena House is the first book in the Jane Wunderly mystery series and is Erica Ruth Neubauer's first book. I'm definitely looking forward to more stories in this series....and more books by this author! I wonder what adventures and travels Jane will be having next? :) 

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Kensington. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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There was nothing wrong with this book but I just don’t think it was for me. The setting in Egypt was great, I liked the characters enough, but after reading the first 20% in one sitting, I just didn’t feel compelled to pick it back up. I’d certainly pick it back up again if the mood struck and I’d certainly recommend it to people looking for a light mystery.
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Murder at the Mena House is a wonderfully conceived story with all the elements that will thrill period mystery lovers - exotic setting - the fabulous and historic Mena House outside of Cairo; a young heroine who is chafing under the constraints of her life; mysterious characters convening in the hotel; and a lushly descriptive landscape - the pyramids of Egypt.  Readers will look forward to more exciting adventures in this promising series.
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Good mystery. Easy pace. Looks to be the start of great new cozy series. 

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me an advance copy of this book.
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A young American war widow is travelling in exotic post WW1 Egypt with her deceased husband's aunt when she becomes a suspect in a bloody murder.   Jane Wunderly and her aunt Millie are staying at the posh Mena House Hotel at Giza, near Cairo, next to the pyramids. Jane crosses paths with Anna Stainton, a young woman who takes an instant dislike to her.  When Anna's body is found in her hotel room, the sinister Inspector Hamadi puts Jane on notice that she is a suspect.  Jane is befriended by a mysterious "banker", Redvers and together they investigate Anna's murder.  Along the way, they visit the pyramids and the Cairo museum and generally partake of the Egyptian local colour doing touristy things.   On the dark side, Jane receives a warning: one day a live scorpion is served with her tea.  Jane's claustrophobic tour of the interior of the great pyramid is realistic.  A second murder occurs, one of the several suspects is found dead in the gambling rooms of the hotel.  By this time in the story, plenty of bad doings have come to light: blackmail, antiquity theft, and even cheating at gambling.  There's an exciting conclusion, following a chase in the native village attached to the hotel, and Anna's killer is unmasked.

There's a variety of interesting characters.  Jane is a standout protagonist attracting readers' sympathy with her back story of a cruel and sadistic husband killed in the Great War. Her aunt Millie is a mystery woman with a skeleton in her closet. The remaining ensemble of supporting characters turn this into an interesting country house mystery.

It's a smooth read, well-paced with an entertaining storyline.  Several red herrings and mysterious characters provide colour too.  The location plays a big part in the storytelling and should appeal to the armchair traveller.  

Recommended as a  well-told intelligent light murder mystery.   The stage is set for a sequel with the further exploits of Jane Wunderly.

I requested and received a complementary advance reading copy from the publisher, Kensington Books, via Netgalley.  The comments about it are my own.  I appreciate the opportunity to review the book.
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I know I have read a five star book when, as I finish the last sentence, I am eager for the next book. That's how much I enjoyed Murder at the Mena House. It got my attention from the title and the setting, 1926 in Cairo, Egypt. The first page sucked me in and never let go.
Jane Wunderly is an American abroad, traveling with her Aunt Millie. While dear Aunt Millie continues her hunt for a suitable man to put another wedding band on widow Jane's ring finger, Jane is having none of it. As a young war widow (with secrets of her own about her husband) Jane just wants to enjoy the pyramids and watch camels and such. Not fend off strange men her aunt sends her way. Well, that may be Jane's intention but things don't go her way. Day one and Jane is parched and enjoying her Gin Rickey at the bar, her mind having a pleasant wander as she checks out her surroundings. Breaking into her musings is a man's voice calling her name. Oh dear, Aunt Millie has struck again and pointed her out to a man. A very handsome and mysterious man who only gives his name as Redvers, just Redvers. Jane may have sworn off men and embraced her widowhood but she might have to rethink that soon. Redvers is a knockout and he attracts the attention of another hotel guest who wants him for her own and sees Jane as her competition. She hates Jane from the get go. When a killer strikes, Jane becomes the prime suspect. She is found standing over the woman's corpse and Jane's missing scarab is found in the woman's room.
This mystery has a bit of everything I enjoy - a well crafted puzzle, an interesting and colorful cast of suspects, a strong female character, a lush foreign setting, a period setting and a touch of romance. The writing style flows smoothly and I was sorry to reach the conclusion and have to bid adieu to Jane and company until I can join her in her next mystery.
My thanks to the publisher Kensington and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This was a new author for me. The plot and storyline were very well done.  the author kept me guessing. Such a wonderful story. I would definitely try another book by This author.
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A fun new historical mystery series set in my favorite period, the 1920s. Jane Wunderly is an intrepid heroine vacationing in Egypt with her aunt. Secrets (and bad guys) abound, and Jane's exploits reminded me of the beloved Amelia Peabody series by Barbara Peters and Indiana Jones.
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Jane Wunderly accompanied her Aunt Millie to Egypt in 1926, looking forward to her holiday and seeing the pyramids as had been her dream. She was recently widowed and determined to never marry again, but Aunt Millie was equally determined to see she did. When the two women encountered Mr Redvers at Mena House, Millie was smug while Jane was wary. As the guests mingled while getting to know one another, Jane could see there were some strange and different people among the guests. The Colonel for example was a lovely man, while his daughter immediately made eyes at all the men. Jane wasn’t the only woman to feel her glare.

But when Jane found a body in one of the guest rooms, she was totally in shock. And when she was declared a suspect by the local police, Jane knew she had to find the killer to clear her name. Could she trust Mr Redvers to help? Between the staff and all the guests, there were many who would fit on Jane’s list of suspects. She needed to eliminate to find the murderer…

Murder at the Mena House is the 1st in the "A Jane Wunderly Mystery" series by Erica Ruth Neubauer and I loved it! Jane is an excellently crafted character, strong and determined and although she did some foolish things, she knew they were but did them anyway. I can’t wait for the next in the series and recommend this one highly.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for my honest review.
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