Cover Image: Death Comes to the Rectory

Death Comes to the Rectory

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Delightful read with characters you come to care about and a well crafted mystery.  It was hard to put down and very easy to make excuses to rush back to finish it.
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This is the last of Catherine Lloyd’s Kurland St. Mary stories. The series comes full circle from Death Comes to the Village (2013) and it’s a pleasure to catch up with familiar personalities and storylines.  Death Comes to the Rectory is a closed village mystery since inclement weather traps everyone in the village of Kurland St. Mary.  

Let’s set the stage. Major Sir Robert Kurland and his wife Lady Lucy are celebrating the christening of their daughter Elizabeth. Coincidentally, Robert’s Aunt Rose announces that she is pregnant. Not everyone is happy about the news, in particular, Rose’s adult daughter Henrietta and her husband, Basil, who both fear for her inheritance. Basil and Henrietta Northam are greedy and unreasonable. Rose has been very generous to her daughter and her son-in-law but for the grasping pair, that’s not enough. The Northams arrive on the Kurland’s doorstep, uninvited and unwelcome, much like a Wicked Fairy upending the christening of a baby princess. Lucy’s father, the Reverend Ambrose Harrington, also seems to be undergoing some financial difficulties. Sir Robert is unsympathetic to his father-in-law’s plight. He has long thought that Harrington’s selfishness and pride contribute to his financial insecurity, sparking an uncomfortable conversation with his wife, Ambrose’s daughter:

“Damnation! If he sold off half the bloodstock in his stables, he could pull himself out of debt in an instant, but that would never occur to him.”

 

Lucy rose and shoved in her chair. “You are in a most disagreeable mood this morning.”

Christenings should be happy occasions, an opportunity for family and friends to toast the new babe and strengthen the ties that bind. Basil and Henrietta’s outbursts put pay to that notion: “Following the christening, Rose’s disagreeable son-in-law Basil Northam threatens to turn afternoon tea in the rectory into an unsightly brawl.”

Basil’s dead body is found in the rector’s study the next morning, stabbed in the chest by Lucy’s father’s letter opener. Later Lucy discovers a damning note in the dead man’s coat: Meet me at the Rectory, or leave the village, and let this matter rest! It is a tribute to her reverence for the law and her respect for her husband’s impartiality (he is the law in the village), that she seeks out Robert immediately.

“Where did you find this?”

 

“In Northam’s coat pocket.”

 

“It suggests that someone asks him to appear at the rectory this morning.” He studied her closely. “What’s the matter?”

 

“That’s my father’s handwriting,” Lucy blurted out. “I would recognize it anywhere.”

Why would anyone want to kill Basil (other than him being thoroughly unpleasant and reprehensible)? Like many mysteries, the prime directive is to follow the money. It transpires that everyone except Robert and Lucy has a connection to a fraudulent money-raising scheme but rather than come clean, they lie, dissemble, and misdirect. Robert is very put out: after all, these people are his relatives, in-laws, and closest friends, including a man he has served with in the Army.  At times, Robert wishes them all to the Devil.  

Lucy and Robert are often at odds in Death Comes to the Rectory. Understandably so since her father is the prime suspect in Basil Northam’s death and Robert is the local justice of the peace. A massive winter storm makes it impossible for anyone to depart. Poor Lucy is running an upscale bed and breakfast albeit with some “guests” treated as prisoners. Yes, she has servants galore, but someone must direct them. Robert is infuriated by the cavalier treatment of his horses—every time he turns around, a guest has commandeered one of his steeds.

Death Comes to the Rectory is an enjoyable coda to a memorable series. When we first met Lucy Harrington she was a downtrodden drudge, in servitude to her selfish father.  Robert Kurland was at death’s door, an almost-casualty to the vicissitudes of war.  Years later they are the lord and lady of the manor, respected by all, and still in alt to have found each other. Let’s give them the last words.

Robert brushed a kiss on his wife’s forehead and stepped back. “I am tired of this, my love. I never want to deal with another dead body again. I want our visitors to leave and our house to get back to normal.”

 

“I can’t argue with any of that.” Lucy smiled back at him. “As far as I am concerned, the sooner they all leave the better!”

Many thanks to Catherine Lloyd for an enjoyable historical mystery series. Time for a re-read!
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January can be such a long month but one bright spot has been the anticipation of a new book in Catherine Lloyd's Kurland St. Mary Mystery series. As you may know, I discovered this series a few years ago when I read book 4 Death Comes to the Fair. I still have book 2 and 3 to read in the series. after reading the author's note at the start of Death Comes to the Rectory, I'm glad I still have those two books to read.

I know a lot of series are set out to be a certain number of books and eventually come to an end. But I read a lot of cozy mystery series that have 20+ books in the series and show no signs of ending. For example, M.C. Beaton died last year but another author is continuing her series. So I was in a bit for a bit of a shock when I read the short author's note at the beginning that announced that Death Comes to the Rectory is the last book in the Kurland St. Mary Mystery series. Did you know the series was ending with this book?

I absolutely love Lucy and Robert, and after so few books (this is book 8), I'm not ready to say goodbye. My favorite cozies involve partner sleuths and these two are just great together. I love all the characters - I've even started to like Lucy's father Ambrose Harrington, the village's rector. I absolutely hated him in book 1, but Rose seems to have softened his sharp edges, or perhaps it is just that Lucy is no longer under his roof and therefore outside of his "control" (for those that don't know this series takes place in the early 1800s).

I tried not to let the sad news dampen my enjoyment of the story. Robert and Lucy are celebrating the christening of their new child Elizabeth. Friends and family have been invited to stay at Kurland Hall for the special occasion. However, unwelcomed guests show up just a few days for the event, and not wanting to be inhospitable to his favorite aunt's daughter, he begrudgingly invites Henrietta and her husband to stay.

Lord and Lady Northam are quite despicable. Even though Rose is in a delicate condition, they demand an audience with her, for they have learned she has changed her will and has cut them out of it. Nevermind that she provided a substantial marriage dowry for her daughter and has continued to fund their extravagant lifestyle, which includes some unsound financial investments.  

As with all well-laid plans in Kurland St. Mary, a death overshadows the celebrations. This may be the most complicated investigation that Robert has had to conduct as the local magistrate as it involves family and friends as suspects. The motive involves many secrets that lead to a tangled mess of the threads for Robert and Lucy to follow. 

This was a really good mystery. While I was pretty sure I knew who did NOT commit the murder, I was just as uncertain as Robert and Lucy as to who did do it. 

I still don't want this series to end but it was a satisfying book if it has to be the last. Thankfully, I don't have to say goodbye to this couple just yet as I still have 2 older titles in the series to read.

My review is published at Girl Who Reads - https://www.girl-who-reads.com/2021/01/death-comes-to-rectory-by-catherine.html
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Death Comes to the Rectory is my first Catherine Lloyd book.  Even though I jumped in the series at Book 8, it stood perfectly fine on its own and I followed along well with no confusion.  It was certainly a different type of story than what I typically read but I enjoyed the experience.  An engaging storyline and well-developed characters drew me in from the start.
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The eighth book in the A Kurland St. Mary Mystery series a well written story with a very good storyline. Lucy and Robert are having a christening for their new daughter but things are not happy with some people. This story has suspense, drama, danger, murder, a villain, a accident, twists, turns, and lies. I enjoyed reading. This is a new Author to me. I received a copy of this book via Net Galley and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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Lady Lucy and Sir Robert Kurland are enjoying what should be a joyous moment in their lives. However events soon devolve into tense, dangerous times.  When murder strikes within the heart of their families it will require all their intrepid skills to ferret out the culprit. The author creates a book with lush description, interesting characters and an intriguing plot.   This  series and author are new to me. I look forward to familiarizing myself with more of her work.  Though I wish I had read this series in chronological order, it didn't detract from my reading pleasure.
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4.5 *
It is always hard to say goodbye to a much-loved series. Catherine Lloyd made it a little bit easier by finishing with an amazingly complex mystery that tested the loyalty and commitment to justice of her fantastic detective duo. 

Death Comes to the Rectory is the 8th and final book in a historical mystery series set during the Regency in England. The story opens with preparations for the christening of Lucy and Robert's daughter Elizabeth. Robert's Aunt Jane is married to Lucy's father, the rector. Jane's daughter and horrible husband, Lord Northam, show up unexpectedly and are not welcomed by anybody. Poor weather however means that Robert and Lucy must extend their hospitality despite an already full house. Lord Northam is found dead in the rectory study on the day of the christening. Lucy's father appears to be guilty. 

This was a complex mystery with plenty of suspects, red herrings, lies, motives, and complicated family connections. I loved watching Lucy and Robert try to solve the case while trying to protect family members (some more worthy of protection than others). The conflicts between Lucy and Robert, Robert and his father-in-law, and all the other various family and close friends gave the story an added level of tension. 

A financial scheme plays a big part in the plot and I had a bit of a hard time with the money/numbers but it never overshadowed my enjoyment of the story as a whole. I really enjoyed this book and plan to re-read the series in the very near future.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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It's hard for a reader to say goodbye to a favorite series but here we are, time to say those words. Because of that and the fact that the ending didn't wrap up the threads as I felt it should have, this gets only 4 stars. Having said that, the mystery itself was excellent The victim was disliked by everyone. The main event was a happy occasion - the christening of Lady Lucy and Sir Robert's daughter Elizabeth. The setting of the Rectory and Kurland Hall becoming rather a locked room due to snow adds to the suspense. The list of possible motives and killer is long but it's a shock when the victim, Basil Northam, stabbed in the heart, in the rectory study with an antique letter opener owned by Lucy's father - well that just cannot be...or can it? Lucy can't believe her father, the rector, capable of murder and Robert, as the investigator, knows it may very well be possible. Not the way to mark such a happy event.
I have enjoyed every book in in this series, spending time with Lady Lucy and Sir Robert. Each mystery engaged me and kept me guessing to the final reveal. That's the mark of a well crafted mystery series.
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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Intricate & Delightful Who-Dunnit!!!

The scene: early 1800’s.  The event: A christening.  Family and friends gather, so does an uninvited, and rather unwelcome guest.  

When said guest is found murdered it appears everyone has a motive – but who has the opportunity?
Complicated by a snowstorm, timelines are traced, horses are borrowed and misdeeds are revealed.

A fabulous read.  It was engaging and you either liked (or liked disliked) the characters appropriately. My first read by this author, but I’m eager for more!

**I am voluntarily leaving my honest review of this book**
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This is the eighth and final book in the Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series. This is a historical mystery set in the English countryside. This was a great mystery with a surprise ending. I enjoy a mystery where I can’t figure out the culprit until the author reveals them to me and this book did that. The characters where great and the pace was wonderful. Though this is the eight book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone book.
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1826 At Kurland St. Mary it is time for the christening of Elizabeth, second child to Sir Robert and Lady Lucy Kurland. The guests have started to arrive, invited and otherwise but soon one of the guests is discovered dead. Will there be more deaths and what could the motive be, Robert and Lucy investigate.
Unfortunately the last in the series of this delightful historical mystery series with its wonderful characters and well-written mysteries.
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I wasn't aware that this was the last book in this series when I requested to read it.  I also had not read any of the previous books in the series.  I had no trouble following along with this.  I enjoyed the mystery and the characters were well drawn.  I would have liked more of an epilogue with it being the end to the series.  That said it was a good read regardless.  
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher and voluntarily chose to review it.
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A scintillating murder mystery. I had my suspicions as to who dun it from the very beginning. But Catherine Lloyd kept dashing all my hopes of figuring this out!  The ending will shock you. 
5 stars!!!
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I typically don’t like mysteries, and this is definitely an exception for me.  This was a great book, full of vivid intrigue that keeps the story moving along briskly, right down to the last page.  The characters are well-written—rich and full of period detail that helps build the story in so many ways.  The plot takes many twists and turns as we all try to work out the “who done it” of the murder, keeping the reader guessing to the very end.  I can usually see the path down which the author is leading us, and this time, I was simply following along trying to figure it out.  I loved the grand finish in the parlor of the rectory (sounds like something from “Clue, doesn’t it?) in the style of Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.  This is a great story, don’t miss it.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my freely given, honest review.
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Death Comes to the Rectory by Catherine Lloyd
Kurland St. Mary Mystery #8

Coming in on the last book of a series is probably not the wisest way to read a series but this book did manage to stand alone, introduce the characters easily and give enough background to follow the story without difficulty. 

What I liked: 
* The story felt of the time period
* There were plenty of potential murderers
* I didn’t mind that the person who died was killed because he was reprehensible
* The relationship between Robert and Lucy seemed well established and healthy
* That the rector and his new bride seemed to care about one another – and were expecting a baby though older
* The twists and turns
* The way the clues were eked out
* That the murderer and motivation were eventually determined

What I didn’t like: 
* Many of the characters: Northam, Henrietta, the Earl…and others
* Not sure it is a dislike but I am curious enough to find out what the sentence would be for the person who admitted to murder to see if google might tell me. 

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I have enjoyed it more if I had read the entire series? Probably
Would I read more books by this author? Yes



Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

3-4 Stars
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My first time reading this author. I'm sorry to see that it is the last in the series. I really enjoyed it. This is an historical murder mystery with a large cast of characters but they soon sort themselves out. I was surprised at who ended up being the murderer.
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Murder casts a dark shadow over the christening of Lady Lucy and Major Sir Robert Kurland's daughter Elizabeth—even more so when Lucy's own father, the rector, falls under suspicion for the crime. Lucy and Robert’s joy in christening their new daughter, surrounded by extended family and loved ones who have gathered in the village of Kurland St. Mary, is only enhanced when Robert’s aunt Rose—now the second wife of Lucy’s father Ambrose—announces that she is with child. However, not everyone is happy about the news, in particular Rose's adult daughter Henrietta and her husband, who fear for their inheritance. Following the christening, Rose’s disagreeable son-in-law Basil Northam threatens to turn afternoon tea in the rectory into an unsightly brawl. The next morning, he is found in the rector’s study, stabbed through the heart with an antique letter opener, clutching a note that appears to implicate the rector himself. As the local justice of the peace, Robert has an obligation to remain unbiased in his investigation of the ghastly crime, even though his prime suspect is a man of the cloth and his wife’s father. But Lucy is under no such obligation. As snow traps the members of the christening party in Kurland St. Mary, she vows to clear her father’s name and bring the cold-blooded culprit to justice. Someone had better start saying their prayers
This is the eighth & final book in this brilliant series & I'm sad to see it end especially as I felt there were lots of loose ends, I would have loved an epilogue. However as always the book is well written & the mystery engrossing. I wasn’t sure who the murderer was until nearly the end. Strong characters & a fast paced plot plus plenty of red herrings & twists & turns held my interest all the way through
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
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I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Death Comes to the Rectory is the eighth and last book in the A Kurland St. Mary Mystery series by Catherine Lloyd. I’m sorry to see this come to an end, although, to be honest, I was beginning to wonder how on earth this couple could continue to have their important life events interrupted by the murders of friends, family, employees, and acquaintances. 

In this book, Lady Lucy Harrington and her ex-military husband, local magistrate Sir Robert Kurland, are entertaining family for the christening of their new daughter Elizabeth. While the relationship between the couple remains loving, respectful, and somewhat subdued, there is little left to develop as far as plot arc goes. In this novel, the most likely murderer is Lucy’s father, a rather unpleasant man who has never treated Lucy fairly, but whom she loves nevertheless. She’s in a quandary because it is Robert’s duty to investigate the murder and, if necessary, see her father imprisoned and tried. For once, she doesn’t want him to be impartial. And this leads to some old-married couple bickering which is not as much fun to read as the earlier fraught romance.

The victim is Lord Northam, who is married to Robert’s exceedingly nasty cousin, Henrietta. Henrietta’s mother (Robert’s aunt) has recently married Lucy’s long-widowed father (the most likely murderer.) It’s quite a tangle. Because of the christening, numerous other relatives are there, including Lucy’s uncle and his wife and their son. Her uncle is an earl and is supercilious and entitled. The son is a wastrel. That aunt is aloof but generally respectable. They are tangled up in the mess too, since the son owed a huge gambling debt to the dead man. And then there is Robert’s old military friend, Captain Coles, who has been named godfather to the baby. For some reason, he is present at all the wrong places at all the wrong times and can’t keep his stories straight.

As usual, the mystery makes for fun reading as the sleuthing couple digs around and tries pulling apart the threads of an increasingly knotted mystery. Rather than no suspects, there are far too many. The reader is pulled along to grow suspicious of first one, then another, until the murderer becomes apparent and is revealed.

This is a lovely cozy historical mystery series from beginning to end. I recommend starting with book one: Death Comes to the Village.
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I was disappointed to learn this is the final book in this series. It was an excellent mystery but had some continuity issues from the previous book. Some of the conflict between Robert and Lucy felt a touch forced but overall their interactions were what I've come to expect. It also brought the entire extended family together so it was a nice way to wrap up the series.
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I have always enjoyed this series, with the ever grumpy but loving Robert, and his wife Lucy.  Set in the late 1800’s, Lucy is not the quiet submissive wife you would expect, but a very insightful and strong wife.  When the couple is in the midst of their daughter’s christening, a murder victim brings death to Lucy’s family’s home.  Her father, the Rector, is the major suspect as her husband investigates with Lucy’s help.  As usual, there are many red herrings, and the solution is not easily predicted.  I recommend reading this series in order since the books do have a progression to them.  Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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