Fiction Review: Murder at the Majestic Hotel, by Clara McKenna


Against all expectations in Edwardian England, newly married American heiress Stella Kendrick and British aristocrat Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst are bucking traditions—and investigating murder—on their honeymoon in the latest installment of the Stella & Lyndy Mysteries from acclaimed author Clara McKenna.

Leaving behind tragedies surrounding their wedding at Morrington Hall, travel-worn Stella and Lyndy arrive at the grand Majestic Hotel in York to more misfortune—their stately honeymoon suite has been given away to Horace Wingrove, owner of England’s largest confectionery. Stella refuses to let an innocent booking mistake spoil the mood, but her optimism vanishes when Horace suffocates in the room where she and Lyndy should have stayed . . .

Unlike authorities on the scene, Stella can’t believe the business magnate’s death can be explained away as an accident. Troubling signs are everywhere—strange murmurs in the hallway, tight-lipped hotel staff, and a stolen secret recipe for Wingrave’s famous chocolate. Then there are Horace’s murky intentions for visiting the historic cathedral city, and those who were closely watching his every move . . .

As Stella and Lyndy tour Yorkshire and mingle with royals as husband and wife, they face a sinister mystery that puts their vows to the test. Can the couple work together to discover the truth about their romantic destination and the strange happenings haunting their trip before they’re treated to another terrifying surprise?


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

Reading a book that comes midway through a series can be a dangerous action. Some series consist entirely of standalone novels, while others almost require you to read the titles in order. Murder at the Majestic Hotel lands somewhere in between: it’s the fourth book in the Stella and Lyndy Mystery series, and I’d not read the previous three, but it’s also a new case. I was attracted to this book initially by its cover, and then by the chocolate-involved storyline. Would I be able to follow the narrative, or would I be lost?

York is my home when I’m in England, such as I am now. I have walked over a large portion of the city center and was familiar with some of the sites either mentioned or implied. From the description, the Majestic Hotel is based on The Principal York Hotel which opened in 1878. I’ve walked the York Walls and the medieval streets. Author McKenna also takes some names and twists them slightly: the famous Rowntree name is Rountree here, and the Yorkshire Dales villages of Buckden and Starbotton have combined to form Buckbotton.

I felt Murder at the Majestic Hotel was a basic story, nothing too complex for a whodunnit. I only partly guessed who was responsible, but there was also a subplot involving a proprietary recipe which had seemingly disappeared. Were the death and the disappearance related? The visit to Bolton Abbey brought back a couple of memories (I’ve not been there in years), but Stella made one of her seemingly outstanding leaps of deduction while on the stepping stones which cross the river there. (Believe it or not, I only just made the connection of “leap” and “stepping stones” as I typed this!)

And, maybe it’s because I’m familiar with York and know people from there, but I was continually knocked out of the story whenever I read York Minster described as a “cathedral.” Yes, its full name is The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, but it’s more commonly known as York Minster. I’ve always heard of it described as “the Minster.” I checked with a couple of friends, including another author, and all said the “Minster.” One added that they’ve only ever heard the occasional tourist refer to it as a “cathedral.” Granted, Stella and Lyndy aren’t locals, but Lyndy has enough family in the area that he, at least, should’ve known better and spoken of it enough to American Stella that she picked up the terminology.

So, was I able to follow the narrative having not read the previous three books? There are some references to events in the previous novels as they relate to the main characters, but I was able to follow the plot without having read them. Would I read those earlier books? I’m not sure. Given all the books I already have on my to read list, probably not.


Rating: 3 out of 5.


Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: 25 October 2022

Book Information


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Clara McKenna has a B.A. in Biology from Wells College and a M.L.I.S in Library and Information Studies from McGill University.  She is the founding member of Sleuths in Time, a cooperative group of historical mystery writers who encourage and promote each other’s work. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Clara McKenna’s website:

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