I had the pleasure of reading the first book in the series last year and it wasn’t bad, but some of the things in the story were a little reaching.
That said the first book had a lot to recommend itself and I was open to reading the second book in the series to see how thing shaped up with a little bit of polish and experience under the author’s belt.
This series boasts likable characters with sass and sweetness and I was excited to see how Lady Cecilia Bates and her maid Jane, solve crime in this latest installment.
As the suffragette movement sweeps England in 1912, Lady Cecilia Bates wants to march but ends up trailing a killer instead in the latest entry to the Manor Cat Mysteries.
Lady Cecilia of Danby Hall feels adrift. She couldn’t be less interested in helping to plan her brother’s upcoming wedding, nor finding a husband herself. Instead, what excites her most is the Woman’s Suffrage Union meeting she has just attended.
Inspired by the famous and charismatic leader of the group, Mrs. Amelia Price, Cecilia is eager to join the Union—if she can hide it from her parents, that is. But when Mrs. Price is found dead at the foot of the stairs of her home, her Votes for Women sash torn away, Cecilia knows she must attend to a more urgent matter: finding the killer. With the help of her lady’s maid Jane and intelligent cat Jack, she hopes to play her part in earning women’s equality by stopping the Union’s dangerous foe. (summary from Goodreads)
The first thing I noticed with this one, was the author seemed to take to heart some of the feedback from her first book. This one was better written and a little more developed than the first book and I appreciated that the author applied some of the constructive criticism that other reviews put forward.
I have really enjoyed Cecilia’s character overall. She is smart, if not a little bored in her conventional role as lady, and she is charming. I love that she wants more from her life beyond just the typical things of a woman from her station (marriage and a family). But at the same time I thought she dwelled on this a bit much. It wasn’t awful or terribly distracting but at the same time, I felt that it was a little much at times and would have liked for it to be something maybe explored throughout the series more rather than focusing on it so much in this particular book as much as it did. I also felt like the relationship between Jane and Cecilia was a little bit of a reach and I recalled feeling that way in the first book too. While there might be some plausibility issues between their ranks etc, overall I think their relationship was ok.
These are mostly minor things though, and overall I enjoyed Cecilia as well as Jane. This book was really about the mystery for me though and for that I was thankful the mystery was the focus. There were plenty of characters for me to be suspicious of and who had motive. I enjoyed that quite a bit and recalled that this book had more red herrings than the last. I found the mystery itself rather enjoyable and chose to focus my attention on that rather than the lives of the characters as much.
The setting and overall feel of the book and time period feel authentic and charming. This series would be a good fit for fans of Downton Abbey and other lady detective mystery series. I know the series is called the Manor Cat Mysteries but for me the cat plays a minor roll in the story with Cecilia and Jane taking center stage.