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Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney

Murder by Syllabub

by Kathleen Delaney

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This is an Ellen McKenzie mystery set at an estate just outside Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Ellen has traveled across the country with her Aunt Mary because Mary's good friend, Elizabeth has called and ask for help. Elizabeth has seen a ghost in her house and someone, perhaps the ghost, has tried to kill her. Since Mary never goes anywhere, let alone fly that far changing planes, etc., Ellen and her new husband decide she needs to go along.

From the time they arrive, they are confused. They keep getting half stories and being interrupted by people they don't know. Elizabeth is newly widowed and now the owner of an estate which has a main house connected by passageways to guest houses on either side of it. She lives in one of the guest houses which she and her husband had completely remodeled, and she plans to fix up the main house in eighteenth century style to use as a place to give teachers an authentic experience which hopefully will enhance their teaching. It's a great idea, but apparently Elizabeth's ghost is determined it won't happen.

Meanwhile, her late husband's stepson is trying to lay claim to the estate so he can sell it off to developers. There is also the matter of Noah and his mother Mildred who have always lived in a house there but have no deed. They are descended from slaves owned by the original owner. Elizabeth had promised to give them title to their house but has apparently forgotten. If she loses the lawsuit, they will lose everything.

The story is a cozy mystery and occasionally drags just a bit as Delaney describes colonial furnishings and cooking. That feature of the book is very interesting, especially to a history buff like me, but someone else might not enjoy it so much. The characters are either endearing or outrageously funny. No one goes foolishly down into the cellar or out in the darkness alone, or anything other than what normal people would do in the situation. It's hilarious when Elizabeth, her sister-in-law, Ellen and Aunt Mary go to the main house to find the ghost. The four of them are scared to death and armed only with a cane and a flashlight - great scene that made me laugh out loud.

I really enjoyed this book. It was perfect after finishing a long nonfiction book and when I wasn't in the mood for more serious reading material.

Source: Publisher, through Partners in Crime Book Tours ( )
  bjmitch | Oct 14, 2013 |
I love a cozy mystery with great local color, interesting characters and a sleuth that is determined to find out just whodunit. Murder by Syllabub fits the bill. Ellen Mackenzie is ever loyal to her family and friends, so when she finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery involving her Aunt Mary’s long time friend, Elizabeth, she is determined that the right person should be brought to justice. The investigation kept me interested, but it was the setting of colonial Williamsburg and its environs that kept me turning the pages. A very modern story, the look back at the culture and customs of colonial America was great. Delaney really did her homework! And although I did have an inkling on who the true murderer was, there was enough doubt that kept it interesting. Part of a series, Murder by Syllabub can be read as a standalone. Please note: there was a good bit of mild profanity. All in all a very enjoyable read!

(Thanks to Partners in Crime for my review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.) ( )
  vintagebeckie | Oct 11, 2013 |
Ever heard of murder by syllabub? I hadn't either until reading this book. Syllabub is an after dinner drink from back in Colonial days. This drink was allegedly prepared (and poisoned) by Ellen McKenzie who has accompanied her aunt Mary to help out her old friend Elizabeth living in VA. Elizabeth has seen a ghost and needs the help of amateur detective Ellen.
The characters are wonderful, Aunt Mary is delightfully quirky, the storyline is fun and I could go on and on. This is a fun read filled with interesting historical facts and a ...... dead ghost!

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  JoyAnne | Oct 10, 2013 |
If you love cozies and you love history, then Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney. This is not the first of the series but I never felt lost so I think you can read the books in whatever order you like. Now I want to read more books by Kathleen Delaney.

Besides not having a lot of violence or graphic sex, most cozies have wonderfully developed characters that are fun to follow their lives through a series. This book shines is not an exception. I feel like I have a whole group of new women friends and each one is very unique. I loved the main character or course and all her quirky friend through the series. At the beginning, Ellen’s Aunt Mary is going to Virginia to help her friend. Her friend, Susan is an environmental activist and a history teacher. Susan had told Aunt Mary that someone had tried to push a crate over her. And this person was dressed in Colonial clothes so that it seemed like a ghost was after her. So the two go together to help Susan.

Colonial Williamsburg figures highly in this story. The mansion where the crate was thrown at Susan is next door to this important historical place. Susan would love to turn the mansion into a school for teachers so that they could learn how to make history come alive. But this book is full of delightful surprises of history. We learn how the rich and poor lived, where they lived, what they did without what their treasures were. After reading this book, I felt that I had that I would love to go back in person to learn more.

This story of feelings between the families who have and have not is very important to this mystery. Yet all this information, the quirky characters and the past customs are woven together with a sense of humor, and a true love of history. The mystery is twisty and you are puzzling along with Ellen about who pushed the crate on Susan in the basement, who killed Monty, Susan’s stepson? And why was he dressed in colonial garb? How did the killer get into the house?

I received this book by selecting a book from the Partners in Crime Tours. That in no way influenced my review. My thoughts and feeling reflected in this review are totally my own. ( )
  Carolee888 | Sep 17, 2013 |
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