MURDER BY INVITATION ONLY by Colleen Cambridge
The Third Phyllida Bright Mystery
An invitation arrives at Mallowan Hall stating that a murder will occur that very night at neighboring Beecham House. A clever way to get the attention of Agatha Christie, but with the novelist in London it is housekeeper Phyllida Bright who attends the event, representing Agatha and her husband. A dynamic couple, Mr. and Mrs. Wokesley have designed a murder mystery game as a way to meet their neighbors, with Mr. Wokesley playing the part of the victim. As guests mingle and question the "suspects", Mrs. Bright feels it's time to leave, after all she's had enough of murder after recently solving two real ones. A scream stops her egress-Mr. Wokesley has taken method acting too far-he is indeed dead!
With a flair for the dramatic and a love of the theatre Mr. Wokesley's introduction to Listleigh, with a special attempt to garner the attention of Agatha Christie, seems perfect. Scads of neighbors walking about
investigating the "murder" when they've got an actually dead body in
front of them, what a perfect setting for the third Phyllida Bright Mystery!
Though not quite a locked room mystery, it is a closed circle one in that only people with entry to the stage could have committed the crime. Even with a small number of suspects Phyllida has her work cut out for her as it seems almost all of the actors had a motive. I love how she scrambles to detect all she can before the inspector arrives, questioning and snooping, all while basically taking over the running of Beecham House when she finds it not up to her exacting standards.
Phyllida Bright is capable and efficient. She's not warm, or even terribly sympathetic, but her attitude is not off putting. Never one to suffer fools, Phyllida has nonetheless has garnered the admiration of servants far and wide. We're given a few clues as to her mysterious backstory and I can't wait to learn more. We also get to learn more about Bradford, and I had to smile at Agatha's sly way of getting Phyllida to learn more about him as well. I may have a bit of a thing for Bradford, but Dr. Bhatt is no slouch either. I'm also thankful that the recipe for his most excellent cold remedy is included.
MURDER BY INVITATION ONLY is a clever historical mystery filled with intriguing characters, subtle humor, and a delightful premise. I look forward to seeing what happens next!