Forget lounging on the beach with a book. I find there’s no better atmosphere for reading than a dreary, rainy day. Lucky for me, it was cold and rainy all of yesterday and I was off! …which meant I took full advantage of some prime reading conditions.
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to broaden my reading. For the most part, I stuck to a select few genres/subgenres and only strayed from my comfort zone for a class or if someone whose taste I trust really, really, OMG-IT’S-SO-GOOD, really loved a book. I wasn’t one for brain fluff – I felt that if I was going to read, I wanted to read a book that could double as a doorstop.
At my own behest I decided to relent and gave cozy mysteries a try. I never would have guessed I’d fall in love. Cozy Mysteries are fantastic, incredible, awesome, amazing – I could go on. They’re fun and silly and the titles are all so ridiculously punny. They’re great.
Title: Grace Under Pressure (A Manor of Murder Mystery #1)
Author: Julie Hyzy
Publisher/Pub. Date: Berkley/June, 2010
Summary: Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, but now it’s up to a new curator Grace Wheaton and handsome groundskeeper Jack Embers to protect dear old Marshfield. But to do this, they’ll have to investigate a botched Ponzi scheme, some torrid Wheaton family secrets-and sour grapes out for revenge.
I first came across the second book in this series (Grace Interrupted) and instantly wanted to read it. The plot dealt with Civil War reenactors (& I’m a huge Civil War buff). I needed to read it and that would be the review for today had I not decided to be sensible and read the series in order.
Grace Wheaton had a rough couple of months. She moved back home to care for her ailing mother, and mere weeks after her mother lost her battle with cancer, Grace’s fiance and sister both ran off. Together. Now, still in her probation period at work, her supervisor has been murdered.
The picturesque Emberstowne is home to Marshfield Manor. Half a century ago the estate was turned into a tourist attraction complete with a hotel, restaurant, tours around the ground on horseback, the works. Half a century ago, an army of staff were hired and the majority of them are still there. Enter Grace. In an attempt to bring the manor to the 21st century, Grace and a few others were brought on.
One morning there’s a disturbance in the tea room which winds up being a distraction for the real crime to occur: Abe, the manager of the manor, winds up shot and killed. With Grace being the next in line (and given that much of the staff still hasn’t taken a liking to the idea of change), fingers start pointing.
Grace takes it upon herself to find the real killer, throw in a secret family past, add a love interest, and that’s the book.
I was a little frazzled by Grace’s insistence on taking matters into her own hands when the police were already investigating. I suppose it’s a rule that all cozy mysteries must have the main character ignoring the demands of the police and taking on the case herself.
Although I know giant reveals – and the love interest! – were set up in order to be expanded upon in subsequent books, I really would have loved to have learned more about what was going on. Particularly with the sister/ex-fiance thread!
Overall, Grace Under Pressure had a few faults, but the characters were beautifully fleshed out (unlike other cozy mysteries I’ve read) and the pace was lovely. Here I come, Civil War reenactors!!