Fiction Review: Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder, by Catherine Lloyd


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Bridgerton and Downton Abbey meet a mystery perfect for fans of Agatha Christie in the debut of a new Regency set series, when drastic circumstances compel Lady Caroline Morton to make an upstairs downstairs switch to become a lady’s companion, whose duties will soon entail solving a murder . . .

The options for the penniless daughter of a deceased earl are few indeed in Regency England. So, following the suspicious death of her father, the Earl of Morton, and the discovery that she and her much younger sister have been left without income or home, Lady Caroline takes a post as a lady’s companion to the wealthy widow Frogerton.

Just as Caroline is getting accustomed to her new position, her aunt, Lady Eleanor Greenwood, invites her and her employer to a house party in the countryside to celebrate her youngest daughter’s birthday. Mrs. Matilda (Matty) Frogerton sees this as an opportunity to introduce her own rather wild daughter, Dorothy, to the ton, and Caroline is eager to see her sister, who as a child lives with their aunt.

But all is not well at the Greenwood estate. For one thing, Lady Caroline’s former fiancé, Lord Francis Chatham, is a guest and refuses to speak to her. Far worse, after a series of troubling harassments of the staff, an elderly family member is found stabbed by a knitting needle.

As Caroline and an unexpected ally—Mrs. Frogerton—attempt to solve the chilling crime, they discover the culprit may be leaving bizarre clues as to who will be next in the nursery. But they must make haste, for this heartless killer is engaged in anything but child’s play . . .


Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

New-to-me author Catherine Lloyd begins a new mystery and suspense series with the descriptively named Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder, in which she introduces the Miss Morton of the title and her breaking boundaries employer. The publisher has stated this is set during the English Regency, but readers should be advised that events take place in 1837 which is the year Queen Victoria came to the throne. There is no mention of either the Napoleonic Wars or the Prince Regent (who was crowned King in 1820 and passed ten years prior to the book’s beginning), which tend to be key features of works set during the Regency era.

This novel starts off breezily enough, although it’s obvious Caroline is not welcomed by all at her former home. As a lady’s companion, she is neither part of upstairs society nor the laborious staff of downstairs. In one scene her aunt deliberately excludes her from a dinner party to which her employer is invited, much to the frustration of a cousin. The youngsters in the nursery are a delight, although their circumstances are somewhat peculiar.

The murder of the book’s title is merely one event in a larger series. I found it strange that the family didn’t want to bring in any outsiders to investigate, except for a young doctor already in situ. Although policing in England was still in its infancy, shouldn’t there have been a duty to report a non-natural death? The clues in the nursery reminded me of a story arc in the procedural crime drama television series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. (To say more would give away an important plot point.) I had to read the final two chapters more than once to properly understand the possible motives, but nothing is clearly wrapped up except perhaps in Caroline’s psychological state as she comes to accept her position in life. One revelation did surprise me, however; I hadn’t expected a certain topic to come up during Caroline’s investigation, one which took the story in a darker direction and that I wish had received more attention. (Saying no more due to spoilers.)

Overall, I’d have loved to see this be a more in-depth novel, perhaps set later in the Victorian era with a gothic twist. There was so much more to explore, including a throwaway comment about nuns haunting the property. There seems to be the beginnings of a romantic relationship for Caroline, although this could’ve been in my wishful imagination. I also felt, as I previously mentioned, that the murder investigation lacked closure. There isn’t a neat ending. Maybe, because it’s the first in a new series, author Lloyd will explore some of the ramifications of the events at Greenwood in later novels. I’d like to see that happen, and so I’ll look to read the next book whenever it comes out.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: 31 May 2022

Book Information


Catherine Lloyd

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Catherine Lloyd was born just outside London, England, into a large family of dreamers, artists, and history lovers. She completed her education with a master’s degree in history at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and uses the skills she gained there to research and write her historical mysteries. Catherine currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and four children.

Catherine Lloyd’s Website

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