IT’S MY RESPONSIBILITY
This is the fourth book in the Manor House series, following “For Whom Death Tolls.” The novel is borderline standalone; it can be appreciated as is but has much more impact if the previous entries in the series have already been read.
The setting of this series is Sitting Marsh, a fictional, rural, seaside town outside London, during WWII. The actual year of this story has not been delineated but it is mentioned in the story that our heroine’s parents were killed 3 years previous during The Blitz of London, which ended in mid 1941. Therefore, this story appears to be taking place in the spring/summer of 1943 or 1944.
There are three plot threads working through this cozy mystery, one that is new and two that are continuing since the first book in the series. The new plot thread involves the murder of one of Lady Elizabeth Hartleigh Compton’s tenants, whose body is found buried in Lady Elizabeth’s community Victory Garden.
The second plot line is the continuing drama that is the relationship between Lady Elizabeth’s assistant, Polly, and an American USAAF pilot, Sam Cutter. The relationship takes a quite unexpected turn and lives are irrevocably changed.
The third plot line is the developing relationship between Lady Elizabeth and USAAF Major Earl Monroe. Quite frankly, it is a joy to read Elizabeth’s thoughts and her dialogue with Earl. The author puts a psychological and sociological depth into those thoughts and that dialogue that is a joy to read. Kingsbury is moving the relationship along at the speed of the times in which the characters are assumed to live and in accordance with the expectations of each character’s social and professional status. Therefore, compared to our current times, the relationship seems to be moving at the speed of snail. Only the overt displays of romantic affection are missing, however. The emotional ties are clearly in evidence this time.
One thing I like about this series is that the identity of the murderer is never easy to figure out. This novel may be classified as a “cozy,” but that is only because of the lack of both excessive sex and overly graphic depictions of violence. The violence is there and the danger that Elizabeth finds herself in this time is very real and very much her own fault. When will she ever learn to take back-up with her instead of going into the lion’s den alone?
Cover art from Goodreads.