Cover Image: Murder Most Festive

Murder Most Festive

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff is a stately house romp with lots of characters to love or hate and a taxidermist detective to cheer for.  The dialogue is engaging and keeps one wanting to finish just to find out who done it.  I enjoyed this book and hope to read the rest of the authors books.
Was this review helpful?
Simply boring. As a mystery it was too easy to figure out. As a “cozy” read it was too flat and dull. The characters weren’t really well done, in my opinion, as no one was particularly likable. Finally, the repetitive use of parentheses was off-putting and became downright annoying.
Was this review helpful?
I am trying to read lots of Christmas books this holiday season, and of course assume a bit of corniness or cheesiness with the genre. Unfortunately this was a bit much for me in particular, and I was disappointed as I expected a fun mystery.
Was this review helpful?
A fairly quick read of a whodunnit that takes place during the 1938 Christmas holidays at an English country estate. One of the guests is found dead on Christmas morning and, although it's initially assumed to be suicide, another guest who fancies himself an amateur sleuth takes it upon himself to conduct an investigation. I didn't find Murder Most Festive to be a very compelling read perhaps, in part, because as a teenager I read every Agatha Christie that I could get my hands on and most modern writers of murder mysteries pale in comparison. But mostly the author lost me because I couldn't decide whether this was a parody of so-called golden age detective fiction or whether I was supposed to take it seriously.

2.5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC.
Was this review helpful?
The Westbury family has gathered a few guests to their Sussex house for the Christmas celebrations. The house party is disturbed by the discovery of the body of one of the guests on the grounds of the house on Christmas Eve morning. The local police officer who attends the scene believes the death to be a suicide, but one of the guests suspects, and proceeds to conduct an amateur investigation.

▪	Quintessential English house party mystery. The novel is set in 1938, so like a lot of novels of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction it features the usual characters: older veterans from the First World War, idealistic young people, the inheritors of old family fortunes hiding their financial difficulties, worried servants, etc. It captures the essence of the fiction of that era, adding a bit of a tongue-in-cheek, self-referential note.

▪	 Arch omniscient narrator. The narrator usually sticks close to the amateur detective, but every now and then pulls back to observe the entire household, describing some details of behaviour or movements within the house. This gives a cinematic feeling, as if the narrator was zooming in and out of the different areas of the house. I found the arch tone of the narration fun, but I can see how it could not be to everyone’s taste. It feels at times dangerously close to parodic.

▪	Characters are drawn in broad strokes. My main challenge when reading mysteries with large casts of characters, especially when, like here, a lot of them are related, is to keep track of who is who. Here, that difficulty is soon banished by the fact that the characters are drawn almost as types, or caricatures. There is the young man who drinks too much, the idealistic young socialist, the grumpy killjoy, the joker, etc. While this definitely made keeping the characters apart, some of them became tedious in Theo one-note-ness, especially the drunkard and the joker. 

▪	Well-drawn mystery.  The mystery itself is very satisfying. The pool of suspects is a bit shallow, which made it easier to guess the identity of the killer, but the motives were murky enough that the reveal was still surprising enough.

▪	Christmas setting. I love cosy mysteries, and they feel particularly cosy when they are set in the winter, or at Christmas. This setting also adds to the drama by forcing everyone indoors for the most part, and the seasonal weather can prevent the authorities from intervening, letting the amateur detective do their thing. 

This was a satisfying mystery, with a fun setting (both in terms of historical and seasonal setting), and an odd assortment of characters. The narrative voice adds a bit of bite to the cosyness.
Was this review helpful?
I love a cozy murder mystery, especially one set during the holidays and bonus if it's historical. This one didn't quite hit the mark for me. I was able to figure out the murderer fairly early on, which is always disappointing and it felt unnecessarily long with too much "filler" that did nothing for moving the story along. The setting was wonderful and the writer did a great job of describing the English countryside. I think this one has good bones (which honestly, it's been done many times before), but it just fell flat for me. I ended up skimming a lot of it because I just wasn't invested.
Was this review helpful?
Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff is a wonderful, historical murder mystery set in 1938 with WW2 looming. Based in a large country manor in Sussex with a houseful of suspects, it centres around Hugh Gaveston, a dogged and determined amateur sleuth who is investigating a killing. On Christmas morning David Campbell-Scott has been found lying in the fresh snow, his crimson blood staining the sparkling whiteness all around him. As the plot ticks off all the suspects, offering different motives and opportunities from a range of likelihoods, the case unveils betrayal and fraud. With occasional touches of humour, this is a compelling and engaging Christmas historical crime novel that I enjoyed immensely.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from the publisher via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I don't believe I've read a recent book written in this style but I'm looking forward to reading more from Ada Moncrieff! 

Moncrieff writes in the third person, which is refreshing. The viewpoint switches at times and the reader gets referred to as the viewer or observer. This reads a lot like an earlier Agatha Christie novel would, and it was fun to read in that style and setting again. 

I really enjoyed following Hugh and his process. I did have the murderer pegged from the start, just not the motive and backstory. Having Hugh do the large Poirot-style reveal at the end was a wonderful nod to Christie as well.
Was this review helpful?
Murder Most Festive is a charming mystery set in the English countryside in the late 1930s. I enjoyed this light-hearted Christmas cozy mystery where we are never quite sure whodunit. I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters. And I love the setting. I'd love to visit small villages in England, so reading about Little Bourton was really fun. It reminds me of a village that would be in Midsomer Murders. Fans of Agatha Christie will enjoy this light Christmas read.
Was this review helpful?
Christmas 1938. It is meant to be very Christmassy especially since it is a mixed gathering, but there 
seems to be many hidden tensions.

The hosts the Westbury's themselves are a mixed bunch. Lord W is vague and somewhat out of place, Lady W
is the mistress of ceremonies who has to hold things together, Three grown up children all squabbling with
each other - all seemingly having hidden agendas. Then the invitees themselves.

When David one of the guests and a very old friend of the family is found murdered on their doorstep, Hugh
Galveston is called in as an old friend and visitors for Christmas to try to use his detective skills to
solve the murder. The local constable thinks it is an open shut case of suicide and his language is hilarious 
in the description. 

The story of Hugh trying to detect, but avoiding the local police and the family and the other guests from
interfering and upsetting his plans are amusing. It is 1938 and on the cusp of WW but these seem far away
for this family who want to stick to their traditions of what they consider a "proper Christmas". Trying to
keep within these boundaries of what is considered respectable is also a burden as even a post mortem is
considered not quite right for the aristocracy.

Reminiscent of an era long gone, this was a cosy mystery murder set with just few characters but all vastly
different from each other.
Was this review helpful?
1937 Christmas Eve and a house party at Westbury Manor and all the guests have arrived. But by Christmas morning one of them will be dead. Neighbour and guest Hugh Gaveston, reader of mystery novels, is not totally convinced that it is suicide. So he starts his investigation. Can he find the murderer and motive before they all depart on the 27th.
An entertaining and well-written historical mystery with its varied cast of characters, very few actually likeable
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Christmas Eve - 1938

Westbury Manor home of Lord and Lady Westbury in Little Bourton is bustling with Christmas preparations.  Lady Westbury has invited even more guests this year.

Daughter Lydia, 32, is busy arguing with Stephen, her brother and spoiled heir.  Their younger brother, Edward, is always being beaten down by Stephen.  Lydia has decided she prefers being a spinster, as well as a vegetarian.  Stephen works in banking and enjoys sending his nasty verbal volleys at everyone.  Edward also works but is determined to help those who have little in life, earning more sneers from Stephen.

Hugh Gaveston, an old friend of Lydia’s, has arrived.  He enjoys taxidermy  and considers himself an amateur sleuth.  Lydia’s godfather, David Campbell-Scott, is an old friend of the family and Lydia is set to inherit his vast wealth.  Next is Freddie Rampling, a wealthy young man determined to drink himself to death.  Lady Westbury has invited her old friend, Rosalind and husband William Ashwell.  Rosalind is a fluffy woman and her husband is an old stuffed-shirt.  Lady Westbury is excited that MP Anthony de Havilland was able to accept her invitation to join them as well.  He is known for his heroism during the war.

The group has a nice Christmas Eve but the next morning is marred when they wake to find David Campbell-Scott dead in the snow outside with a rifle by his side.  How could this man have committed suicide?  After the constable arrives and removes the body, the group tries to carry on with their Christmas activities wondering if perhaps that had not been suicide, but murder.  Could one of them be next?  That’s when Hugh dons his sleuth hat and tries to solve the murder mystery.  

I liked how the book in the fashion of an Agatha Christie novel.  The characters were well-developed and the clues were leaked in a timely manner.  Some humor made this a fun read.  My favorite characters were Lord and Lady Westbury because they are a solid, loving couple.  A fun whodunit.  Enjoy!

Copy provided by the NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A golden-age style Christmas mystery set in an isolated country house with an affable, upper-crust amateur detective is one of my favorite things.  This has all the expected tropes, but they are tropes that I love and make the golden-age mysteries so much fun.  

However, this had a few issues.  The third person narrator was a bit annoying times with comments directing the reader to observe this and that.  It came off as pretentious, to me, instead of clever.  The MP was addressed in an incorrect manner a few times (something obvious that you don’t have to be an expert to know).  Then, to my mind, the most severe issue was that the solving of the crime depended on information that was not given to the reader at the time it was given to the amateur detective.  This would not be considered a fair play mystery.  Now, all of these issues don’t even fill a page in the entire book.  So in the grand scheme of the story, they aren’t something that dominates throughout the book.  It just diminished my pleasure.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I typically enjoy historical mysteries so this one, set in 1938 should have been perfect but I found the writing so bad that I just rushed to complete it without really getting the opportunity to enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?
In MURDER MOST FESTIVE by Ada Moncrieff, a group of well-to-do guests arrives at Westbury Manor for the Christmas in the year 1938 only to be shocked by the sudden death of one of their number. Luckily, Hugh, a young man who's been a longtime friend of the family, has a penchant from crime stories and a keen mind; he's eager to solve the mysterious death. But he's in for a challenge as all of the guests' secrets come to light, and nearly all of them have a motive for murder.

This is a very charming and stylized cozy mystery. It reads like an Agatha Christie novel but with more tongue-in-cheek humor. Thankfully, it's a short read, because the writing style is over-the-top stylized, and the characters are one-dimensional in the way that cozy mystery characters tend to be. Due to these factors, the book was not my cup of tea, but some readers might find it charming and refreshing.

I also want to point out that this book contains some oblique references to queer London, and about half the characters read as queer-coded. Perhaps the author intended to stay authentic to the time period by keeping these identities hush-hush, but in the year of our lord 2021, I wish the narrative, if not the dialogue, would have been more open about it.

This was a mixed bag for me, but if you're looking for a whimsically historical cozy mystery for the holidays, this is a solid choice.
Was this review helpful?
My attention is alway caught with a mystery book blurb that includes a Golden Age time period and a manor house setting. Set in 1938 Sussex at Christmas time Lady Westbury, her husband and three adult children have gathered with some friends at Westbury Manor. It should be a festive time but it all hits a snag when one of their guests is found shot to death. The kicker is he lies in the snow and there is only one set of footprints. A classic locked room mystery, written by many authors over the decades and they are always fun as is this one.
The standard characters are present - the Upper Crust and the rest, the local police (for netter or worse) and the amateur ready to suss out the killer. All good fun with a nice puzzle to get the reader in the holiday mood. I have added A Stage for Death (October 2022) to my very long TBR list.
My thanks to the publisher Poisoned Pen Press and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
What a fun, exciting story! I enjoyed the characters and the story line. The story flowed nicely and it had me reading until the end in a day! I highly recommend this book!

Thank you for letting me review this book
Was this review helpful?
The Golden Age, a secluded estate, a house full of guests for the holidays, and murder...it's the perfect cozy mystery to read while snuggly under the blanket. I enjoyed it very much.


Many thanks to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are my own and without bias or favor or expectation.
Was this review helpful?
This is a perfect cozy read for this Christmas. It mixes all things I love to read about, England, mysteries, the 30’s & everyone stuck in a location due to bad weather. The writing is rich & flows really well & kept my interest. I loved the setting & there’s enough suspects/characters to keep you guessing. It may not be all that original in it’s plotting but I read it for it’s familiar story vibes & I definitely got them. On a cold night, make a tea, grab a blanket & cozy up with this book! Loved it 😊
Was this review helpful?
This is a good mystery that uses a classic set-up of a group of people stuck in a house for Christmas as one of them ends up dead. The author is good at creating believable characters that each have flaws, and the diverse group means it’s not clear who the killer is.

I especially liked the character of Hugh, a kind of bumbling amateur detective who tries to get to the bottom of the killing.

The wintery setting adds to the atmosphere and it’s a great book to curl up with on a cold day.
Was this review helpful?