Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Minotaur!)
Summary: When antique dealer Kat Stanford stumbles upon the partially mummified body of a young woman in an abandoned wing at Honeychurch Hall, suspicion falls on those who had been living there many years ago. And it appears that the deceased had been murdered. Given her mother Iris’s checkered past, Kat is not surprised to learn that Iris knew the victim.
Meanwhile, the unexpected appearance of former lothario Bryan Laney sets female hearts aflutter. Despite the passing years, time has not dampened his ardor for Iris, but the feeling is not reciprocated.
With stories of hidden treasure and secret chambers, past and present collide. As Kat becomes embroiled once more in her mother’s mysterious and tumultuous bygone days, she comes to realize that life is never black and white, and sometimes it is necessary to risk your own life to protect the lives of the ones you love.
Last year I featured the first two books in this series and as much as I enjoyed them, this latest installment is seriously something special. Kat Stanford, ex-host of the antiques show Fakes & Treasures decided to open her own antiques shop, only to have things come to a halt when her mother (who Kat recently discovered is a massively popular bodice-ripper author) purchased a cottage on the Honeychurch estate. The surprises didn’t stop there, however: Honeychurch Hall seems to have a knack for acquiring dead bodies and more than once Kat and her mother were prime suspects.
In the third installment, A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall, a hidden chamber holds yet another body. As the investigation points to murder and decades-old events are brought to light, suspicions once again turns towards Kat’s mother Iris. As a young teen, Iris and her brother had been part of a band of traveling performers. When a book with Iris’s name in it turns up, along with the fact that the mummified body just happens to be wearing a costume Iris personally made, things aren’t looking too great.
What I loved about this one was the look into Iris’s time spend performing. The insight into her past was an absolute joy to read! Kat also truly came into her own in this book and seeing her get over her ex – and possibly start a new relationship?? – had me cheering the entire time. All my favorite characters returned and I couldn’t wait to be reacquainted with them – particularly Harry, the Earl’s young son. Also, learning about priest holes was fascinating!
While each book in the series contains its own mystery and can be read as standalones, I highly recommend reading the series as a whole. Not only will there be a better understanding for the ins and outs of the Hall (along with some backstory) but Honeychurch Hall is such an excellent series fulls of twists and turns with great characters and mysteries that not only keep me entertained, but have me guessing right until the very end! Fans of Downton Abbey, P.G. Wodehouse, and Evelyn Waugh are sure to feel right at home with this series.
Like many writers, we’re often asked where we get our ideas. For me, it’s often a passing comment or a chance remark. In the case of the third Honeychurch Hall Mystery—”A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall,” the passing comment came from my sister Lesley, and the chance remark from Lady Carnarvon.
As the manager of the Flete Country Estate in Devon—that boasts it’s own village and private beach—my sister and I were talking about how much we loved playing squashed sardines as children. It’s rather like hide and seek only in reverse. Lots are drawn and one person races off to hide. Everyone else searches for the hidden person but—and this is where it’s fun—whoever finds the hidden person must quietly join them in their hiding spot. Soon, the group hiding are all squashed together like sardines. Of course for this game to really work it’s best to have an enormous house.
Lady Carnarvon, the wife of the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and current chatelaine of Highclere Castle—known best as the filming location of Downton Abbey—was asked how many rooms the Castle has. She was heard to reply, “I suppose if you know how many rooms you’ve got, you haven’t got a very big house.”
And so, the germ of an idea began to form in my mind. What if a game of squashed sardines had been played at a glamorous house party at Honeychurch Hall decades ago … and what if someone ran off to hide and was never seen again …
AAHHH, HOW EXCITING, RIGHT?! A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall comes out today (and while you’re up at, be sure to grab the first two books!)