Murder Most Fair is the 5th Verity Kent mystery by Anna Lee Huber. Released 31st Aug 2021 by Kensington, it's 384 pages and is available in library bound hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book (and the others in the series) are currently included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free.
This is a sophisticated romance / mystery set in the very early interwar period in England with espionage and drama and short forays into mainland Europe. The series protagonist is a part time spy who, along with her husband and occasionally the home office, chase down murderers and powerful bad guys including powerful government officials who are supposedly on the same side. In between, they sip cocktails, dance, and try to maintain a work - life balance.
There is less international intrigue and more family and interpersonal relationship exploration in this installment, as Verity's German Aunt Ilsa comes into her life again in England and for safety reasons, Verity and husband Sidney return to Verity's family estate with their entire entourage after a long estrangement. Mystery and intrigue follow the couple no matter where they are and they're soon on the trail of skullduggery and an overarching multi-book political mystery with international implications.
The mystery is self contained, but this is a series book with spoilers for earlier installments in the series if read out of order. There are now 6 books available, so it's a good candidate for a binge read. The language is slightly anachronistic with shades of "drawing room stage plays" of the time. It's full of period cocktails and flannel pants and indoor cigarette smoking and casual sexism. The author does have quite a lot of facility with the fashions and mores of the time and place, and I can only imagine the prodigious amount of background research which goes into writing these books.
The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 11 hours and 47 minutes and is narrated by Heather Wilds. I found her voice almost unbearably plummy, very much like a modern rendition of a period drawing-room stage production of The Importance of Being Earnest. She does, however, do a wonderful job of various other accents, such as German and Afrikaaner South African and characters of a broad range of ages and both sexes. I admittedly stopped wincing over her accent for Verity about a third of the way through the read.
Four stars for both the print and audiobook versions. Definitely one for interwar British historical mystery readers who enjoy romance and political intrigue. The language is clean and there's light implied consensual physical contact (between married people) as well as references to past relations.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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