Of Manners and Murder is the entertaining first book of the Dear Miss Hermione Mystery series by Anastasia Hastings. This is my first foray into this author's work under this name or her many other nom de plumes, and a fun introduction it was. With the exception of one character who I totally detested (more on that later), I really enjoyed the story and will be looking for subsequent volumes of this series.
In London, England in 1885, bluestocking Violet Manville's Aunt Adelia writes a popular Agony Aunt column in a London newspaper and is known as "Miss Hermione". (Imagine a Victorian "Dear Abby".) When Aunt Adelia decides to take off with her latest love, Violet is left holding the bag to write as Miss Hermione. She imagines she will hear from lovelorn misses and the like, but the first letter she receives is from a woman by the name of Ivy Armstrong; Ivy believes someone is trying to murder her. When Violet goes to the village where the letters were posted to see what she could discover, she is shocked to discovery that Ivy is already dead! Violet soon discovers that being the most beloved Agony Aunt in London is not for the faint of heart.
This was a fun introduction to Violet's life writing as Dear Hermione. It wasn't quite what she expected! When she decides to track down Ivy and hear from her what exactly is going on, she discovers the death of Ivy in an extremely awkward situation. She walks by the church and sees a gathering in the graveyard, and discovers that Ivy is the deceased! This was indicative of how Violet was going to spend her time as Miss Hermione. Violet was determined to find out what happened to this poor woman, and there were certainly plenty of suspects....the vicar who loved Ivy, the village doctor, a woman who loved Ivy's husband AND Ivy's husband were just a few of the many villagers who had motive. Danger became very real when someone attempted to push Violet in front of a moving carriage. I truly enjoyed reading some of the replies this pragmatic "Miss Hermione" gave to her readers. Not only did Violet have to deal with this, but she also had to worry about her 16-year-old spoiled and naive half-sister Sephora, who was in a relationship with a man she just adored, but he was her secret paramour and no one knew who he was (though Violet was working on it). Some of the chapters were narrated by Sephora, and she was the character I totally despised. She would simper, titter, blush on demand and be sneaky about her relationship. She didn't have much respect for Violet, who didn't care about fashion or romance. I could totally have done without her in the story, though she redeemed herself VERY slightly near the end of the book. I enjoyed some of the supporting characters, such as Bunty (the family housekeeper), Aunt Adelia's friend Lady B, and Eli Marsh, a mysterious man from America. There's a hint of a romance for Violet that I hope we see in future books of the series, but the emphasis here was on the investigation of Ivy's death. I will definitely check out the next book of this series; I just hope Sephora has grown a bit!
I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
This is Dear Abby meets Jessica Fletcher. Set in Victorian times, Violet and her young heiress half-sister, Sephora, are living with her aunt following the deaths of their parents. Violet is very level headed and practical while Sephora is a naïve romantic. When their Aunt Adelia leaves London on a trip, Violet is given the task to take over for her aunt as the mysterious Dear Miss Hermione to give advice to young women about their lives in the local paper. Her first letter is from a young bride, Ivy, who had written before and now was writing to say she felt her life was in peril. She includes a picture with faces circled to imply these would be suspects. An independent woman, Violet sets off to give Ivy advice in person on how to protect herself only to arrive in time for her funeral. But how did Ivy die? Violet decides to bring justice to Ivy and investigate. But then things begin to happen, and it seems as if Violet’s life may be in peril too. A delightful whodunit sprinkled with some humorous overtones of the Victorian era. It will keep you guessing until the end when there is a twist that is unexpected. This book had me hooked from the beginning and I enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to reading more Dear Miss Hermione stories in the future.
Many thanks to #netgalley #ofmannersandmurder @anastasiahastings #st.martinspress #minotaurbooks for the opportunity to read and review this book.
For the most part, I enjoyed this Victorian cozy mystery. The framing device with Aunt Adelia running away with her boyfriend and leaving her profitable column to Violet was strange to me, but I quickly got past that. Beyond that, I would have liked more Eli and much less Sephora. Because this is the first book in a series, I'm sure we'll see more Eli and maybe even see some growth in Sephora, but for this book, I needed a better ratio of them.
Of Manners and Murders is the first in Anastasia Hastings’s new Dear Miss Hermione series set in 1885. Hastings is just one of the pen-names for Connie Laux who has published 65 novels over the years, most recently in the mystery genre! Bookish, Violet Manville is tasked with her Aunt Adelia’s infamous “Miss Hermione” Advice column, after her aunt leaves London with her latest love for the continent. Going through the latest batch of letters, Violet discovers one from a mysterious Ivy who is afraid for her life. When Violet journeys to advise Ivy in person, she comes across not a distraught young wife, but Ivy’s funeral. The book is primarily told from Violet’s perspective, who has an adventurous spirit having spent some of her youth abroad in Africa and India. A few chapters give us the perspective of her younger and more naïve half-sister, Sephora, who also becomes caught up in the mystery. I found the story enjoyable and would recommend it to fans of period mysteries, especially for those who are fascinated by the Victorian era. I look forward to reading more of the series in the future.
Wow! This book is SO GOOD! It is gripping, witty, suspenseful, full of twists and turns, and so much more! Whenever I picked up "Of Manners and Murder", I was whisked back in time to the Victorian Era, put on my sleuthing hat, and was hooked from the first page to the last.
Anastasia Hastings is such an amazing author! Her writing style is visceral, vivid, detailed, and her storytelling is spectacular. The various pieces of the puzzle fall into place at exactly the time they need to to help push the plot forward and reveal another aspect of the mystery, and I had such a difficult time putting this book down.
With her Aunt away, Violet is put in charge of her Aunt's advice column, "Miss Hermione". Violet soon reads a letter from a woman named Ivy who believes her life is in danger, and has, in one way or another, given a list of suspects. As Violet travels to see what is going on, she soon finds out that Ivy is dead, and sets out to find out what happened.
Another plot surrounds Violet's sister, Sephora. When the man she is seeing vanishes, she writes to Miss Hermione (without knowing she is actually Violet) asking for help.
Filled with twists, turns, and surprises throughout, this book truly kept me on the edge of my seat seeing how things would connect, etc.
If you enjoy Historical Mysteries, I highly recommend this book! I found myself turning the pages into the early hours of the morning to see what was going to happen next, and I look forward to reading what Ms. Hastings writes next. I hope there will be many more books in this series!
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the ARC of this book, and to Minotaur Books for send me a physical ARC as well! All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Victorian Era setting in this delightful cozy mystery. Having a young and inquisitive female as the main POV gave this a wonderful modern spin and highlighted just how resourceful and strong a determined woman can be.
I did a combination of print and audio and can recommend both avenues!
This is the first in a new series and I will definitely be returning to see where Violets life will lead!
Thank you Netgalley & St, Martins Press for the arc and Dreamscape Media for the #alc in exchange for an honest review!
Violet’s Aunt runs an advice column in 1885 but she has gone and fallen in love. She abruptly leaves the country and hands over the responsibility of her advice column to Violet. Violet agrees to assume her aunt’s secret identity, answering questions of love and relationships when she has no experience herself. After receiving her first request for advice she suspects something untoward is happening and goes to investigate the circumstances leading to a murder mystery in a small village.
It was a fairly straightforward and believable mystery. I was able to push past my disbelief in terms of Violet’s actual ability to solve the case and just enjoy the events that unfolded. Because with the exception of just common sense and a bitterness towards the idea of being a housewife, Violet doesn’t really possess any extraordinary abilities that would lead you to believe she was capable of solving this mystery. She just had determination and a knack for getting people to reveal themselves.
This book served as an excellent introduction to a cast of characters I think I will grow rather fond of as the series progresses.
Thank you to Minotaur Books for providing an advanced reading copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
When Violet’s Aunt Adelia tells her she’s heading to the continent with her latest lover, Violet isn’t particularly surprised. She is, however, very surprised when Adelia tells her she writes the popular Miss Hermione advice column and wants Violet to replace her. Violet is not sure if she can do it but she is determined not to let her aunt or readers of the column down. She figures it will be mainly complaints about household chores but the first letter she reads is from a woman who says someone is trying to kill her. Violet decides a responding letter is not enough and she will meet the woman. However, when she arrives, the woman is already dead supposedly by an unfortunate accident. But Violet is not so sure and she is determined to find the truth no matter the danger.
Meanwhile Violet’s younger half-sister, Sephora, a rich, pampered heiress, has begun a secret relationship with a man who may not be as perfect as he seems. When he goes missing, she does the only thing she can think of to find him - she writes to Dear Hermione.
Of Manners and Murder is the first in the Dear Miss Hermione Mystery historical series by Anastasia Hastings and, for the most part, I really enjoyed it. Violet is a strong and very likeable protagonist and although the murderer was easily spotted, there were enough red herrings and twists and turns to keep my attention throughout.
My one complaint about the book - it’s split between the sisters’ different povs and Sephora’s part tended to slow the story down although not enough to interfere too much with my enjoyment. Overall, a fun read and I look forward to more of Miss Hermione in the future. Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love a good historical mystery and am [now] excited to add another series to my ever-growing list of ones that I read! Add in that this author is a pseudonym for an author I already really enjoy reading, and this one was [mostly] a winner for me.
What I Liked:
* Violet as a main character. She is is smart, doesn't suffer fools, , and while not loving her position in life, has learned to make the most of it and adding the "Miss Hermione" job to it and all the shenanigans that entail add to her previously small life. She is brave and is willing to step outside of what society deems "proper" to get to the truth. Raised in a very unconventional way, her being able to "look down her nose" at London's society raises eyebrows of course, but just adds to the story.
* Bunty. What a great character. She loves her girls and wants the best for them and tries to reign Violet in, but ends up just getting swept along with her. She is fantastic and I hope we see more of her in the next book.
* I really loved that Violet doesn't expects help OR NEEDS HELP from a man. And while a man does play into the end of this, he is not the focus and I really like how that all played out. Violet shows that she can do this on her own and needs no male help in her life [though she discovers that having someone pay attention to her instead of her sister IS rather lovely ;-) ]. As someone who has lived in her sister's shadow her whole life, I loved this part of Violet the most and when I grow up, I can only hope that I have some of her chutzpah.
* The story overall. It was a really well-told story. It was, for the most part, a really good mystery. I was sure that some people were just not...well, I knew they were not nice, but I wasn't sure how everything would come together and when it did, I was surprised, but not really. I will say I was not let down though - it was more like "AHA!! THAT is it" and the more it was unraveled, the more I thought "DUH! I so should have seen THAT".
All that leads me to what I didn't love about this book:
* The stupid dual POV. Seriously, authors, please stop this. It is unneeded and in this case, so freaking frustrating and eye-rolling. The dual POV adds NOTHING to the story [but frustration on this readers part and the wanting to smack her AND bang my head against the wall]. Now, I am not saying that Sephora as a character wasn't important because she is [though silly, flighty, vapid girls are never, ever, my favorite kind of characters and I also disliked how she often treats Violet]. She is there to show the dramatic difference between two sisters, but I do think it could have been done without us needing her separate POV. I was very unhappy when it suddenly switched in my audiobook and every time she came on, my eyes immediately started rolling. There were absolutely moments where she was 100% TSTL. Seriously.
All the pluses outweigh the one thing that I disliked and I am looking forward to a book 2 should one get written. I can see this becoming one of my favorite series'; so glad that I took a chance on this one - it made for a very enjoyable 2-day read.
I was also lucky enough to be accepted for an audiobook ARC of this book and THIS is the way to read this book [IMO]. I really loved the narrator and how she told the story [though, as with everything regarding Sephora, I disliked her voice, but I think that was the point. Sephora is supposed to grate on your last nerve and the narration really...adds[?] to that. ;-) I will be looking for this narrator in other books and I hope that if there is a book 2, she will continue to be the narrator for that one as well.
Thank you to NetGalley, Anastasia Hastings, Mia Hutchinson- Shaw - Narrator, St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books and Dreamscape Media for providing these ARC's in exchange for an honest review.
Wonderful start to a new cozy mystery series.I enjoyed it from the first pages Violet is a wonderful character can’t wait to read more about her and the adventures she gets up to.#netgalley #st.Martins
More Miss Hermione please!
I was interested from the first page of this story. Violet and Sephora are as different as two sisters can be. While Violet is secretly taking over as Miss Hermione, Sephora is wrapped up in her new love interest. Sephora had me laughing several times at her opinions and attitude.
Violet, unsure she can take over as Miss Hermione also finds herself investigating the cause of death of Ivy. The case of characters she encounters along the way only add to the entertainment in this story and at times build suspense leaving the reader guessing what really happened.
This story had a few surprises in it that I didn’t see coming. I truly enjoyed this trip to Victorian England and cannot wait for the next installment. Miss Hermione is already a favorite of mine.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for
the copy of this book. All views are my honest opinion.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review,
This book was F-U-N. It was exactly what I needed to awaken the book spirits in me after attempting to read something that almost put me into a slump.
The book revolves around Violet; an intelligent women who is given the charge of her aunt's advice column, "Miss Hermione." The moment she takes this over, she is thrown into a murder mystery that threatens to send her entire life into a downward spiral. With its fast-paced story-line, I was enthralled from start to finish.
Pros and Cons:
1: I absolutely adored most of the characters in this book. With the exception of Sephora, I thought each and every character was thought out and completely unique and well-rounded - even the villain.
2: While predictable, the story still has some twists and turns that left me floored and one that left me quite emotional. The story-building was excellent!
3: I LOVED the feminism in this book. All of the characters, except for Sephora, were strong-willed, intelligent, take-no-bs females and it was AMAZING to read. Violet is a strong character from beginning to end, even while being woo'd by the cocky American.
1: Sephora almost DID ME IN, I was so annoyed by her every time she landed on the page. My biggest pet peeve is the dumb lady in waiting and Sephora was the walking, talking epitome of this. I mean, this could also be a pro though, as it shows the outstanding writing of Anastasia Hastings as an author.
2: Why is the romance with Eli at the END of the book?? GIVE ME MORE ELI! I was just as enthralled with him as Violet was but I wanted him in more than just the last 15%!
Overall, what an amazing story. I can't wait for more instalments of this series, I am already obsessed with our Dear Miss Hermione.
I love historical mysteries and could not wait to read this new to me author and start to a series.
Delighted this is during the Victorian era, I soon became engrossed in the premise and wonderful characters!!
Violet is left to cover for her Aunt Adelia's advice column "Dear Miss Hermione" while her aunt has gone off with one of her paramours.
What she finds is a letter from a young woman afraid someone is trying to murder her.. Then the adventure begins!!
Cannot wait to read more and hoping this series also goes to audible!
I enjoyed this book. I really liked the “Dear Abby” premise. Violet’s aunt Adelia runs off with her boyfriend for an extended holiday and leaves her advice column “Dear Hermione” in her nieces hands while she is away.
First we must suspend our knowledge of what life was like for women in the mid 1800s as Violet and her half sister traipse around England on their own while their aunt is with a boyfriend… once you can look past that the book is really enjoyable! I like how quickly Violet picks things up, although I am sad that her relationship with her sister is so strained.
Violet reads her first “Dear Hermione” letter and learns that a young woman named Ivy is in trouble. They travel to Ivy’s location and find out that she is dead of suspected suicide. Violet knows something is off and is determined to bring justice to Ivy.
Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martins Press for an ARC of this book.
It’s publication day for Anastasia Hastings’ Of Manners and Murder: A Dear Miss Hermione Mystery! Thank you to @netgalley and @minotaur_books for the digital ARC. This was the perfect mystery to get lost in on a gray February day.
It’s 1885 in London and Violet and her younger half-sister live with their Aunt Adelia. Violet doesn’t have too many responsibilities and enjoys the quiet life with trips to the British Museum and many cups of tea. Everything changes when Aunt Adelia decides to travel with her latest “paramour” and drops the bombshell that not only is Adelia the popular Miss Hermione advice columnist, but that she also is leaving the column in Violet’s hands.
And like any good mystery, the first letter is not boring! This letter is from a distraught newly married young wife, Ivy, who thinks someone is trying to kill her. Violet, determined to get to the bottom of this, heads off to Ivy’s village, only to discover that Ivy is already dead.
I do love a headstrong female character who doesn’t have any cares to give about the “proper place for a single lady in society.” She almost reminded me of a much younger Jessica Fletcher–no fear and so methodical. It did take just a bit to get into this one, but once Violet’s detective work started to take off, I was a hundred percent along for the ride. And the ending definitely leaves room for additional entries in the series and for that I am happy!
This was a cute little cozy mystery. When Violet is thrust into a role that her aunt has filled for a long time, she is unsure how to start. But the first letter sets her off on an adventure that she could not have not foreseen, and the hunt for a murderer as well.
Easy read, and highly enjoyable!
This is the first in the new Dear Miss Hermione series, and it started out as a mixed bag for me, however by the latter half, the good outweighed the issues for me.
Set in 1885 England, Violet’s Aunt Adelia (who is an Agony Aunt in London’s newspaper world) abruptly leaves her column in her niece’s hands as she leaves town with her paramour.
Violet receives a dire letter from a young woman, Ivy Armstrong, asking for her help as she believes she is going to be murdered, and she even points out four possible suspects. But as Violet arrives in Ivy’s village, she discovers Ivy has met with an “accident”, and she becomes determined to find justice.
Violet is the principal voice here, however her 16-year-old half-sister Sephora has her own misadventures (told in her own voice). I found Sephora an annoying, entitled, rude girl, and I found it hard to sympathize with her at all. However, thankfully, by the end of the book there were signs that Sephora’s character might begin to change, hopefully for the better. There was also a very late introduction of a character out-of-the-blue that threw me and heralded another unexpected facet to the series.
The writing was good, I very much enjoyed Violet’s character and the mystery (even though guessable) was entertaining. I would definitely give the second one a try.
My sincere thanks to the author, NetGalley and Minotaur Books for providing the free early arc for review. The opinions are strictly my own.
Historical cozy mystery is not one of my usual genres, and when I do consume this type of story, it’s always in the form of a BBC or iTV period drama. With that said, Of Manners and Murder was a pleasant surprise. The characters were fantastic—I love Violet and Sephora is a great contrast to her rational personality. Lady B is a very lovely, customs-shirking old lady with a comical gumption that enhances the story, and the side characters and mystery were intricate enough for me to be able to sit back and relax without it dragging because I pegged the murderer from page one. The storyline was also not intruded upon by any anachronistic thing, which made it easer to immerse myself in the plot.
The most fantastic thing about OMaM is that it sets the actual mystery up so obviously (or does it?) that I was really left guessing what was going on until the end. It has been quite a while since I picked up a mystery—I believe the last one I read was A Flicker in the Dark—and I pegged the culprit in the first 10 pages. It really does make for a boring read when that happens. Luckily, that did not happen for this book, and I recommend this highly.
If you like clean books and cozy period mysteries, Of Manners and Murder is definitely a pick for you.
My thanks to NetGalley for the eARC, for which I willingly give my own opinion.
Violet Manville is shocked when her aunt tells her she writes the popular Miss Hermione advice column and then tells Violet that she is in charge of the column while she goes off to the continent. Among the first letters Violet receives is one from a young woman who thinks someone is trying to kill her. When Violet goes to try to help, she interrupts the woman’s funeral. Can Violet figure out what is happening?
I thought the first in this new series, set in Victoria England, sounded like fun. I am glad I picked it up because I was right. The characters are good, although Violet’s half-sister can be a bit shallow. I suspect that is on purpose, however. We do get a few scenes from her point of view, but the switch is always obvious. The plot is lots of fun and plenty to keep us engaged. I did feel Violet made a leap at the end, but the solution was logical. If you are looking for a fun premise for a new series, this is one to check out. I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
When a friend told me that Anastasia Hastings is a pen name of an author we’ve read and enjoyed before, I was willing to give this series a try, even though historical mystery isn’t my normal genre. I’m glad I did. I was drawn in by the characters and the premise right away, and the setting (moving between London and the English countryside) is captivating. The mystery and the pacing are good.
Cons: I am always unhappy when amateur investigation crosses into burglary and theft. Also, the current trend of multiple points of view can end anytime now. Please.
The narration of the audiobook is solid, if at times the voices and accents are slightly exaggerated. All in all, I look forward to book 2 in the series.
Thank you to Anastasia Hastings, MiA Hutchinson-Shaw, St. Martin’s Press, Dreamscape Media, and NetGalley for an advance reader/listener copy in exchange for an honest review.