Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Murder Most Malicious by Alyssa Maxwell | Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway

The author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries is back, with a new historical mystery series!

The Blurb

In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, step outside of their social roles and put their lives at risk to apprehend a vicious killer…

December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia’s engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men.

But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing. Not entirely missing, however, as macabre evidence of foul play turns up in gift boxes given to lady’s maid Eva Huntford and a handful of others. Having overheard her sister and the Marquis in a heated exchange the night before, Lady Phoebe takes a personal interest in solving the mystery.

As the local constable suspects a footman at Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva follow the clues to a different conclusion. But both young women will need to think outside the box to wrap up this case — before a cornered killer lashes out with ill will toward them…

Murder Most Malicious by Alyssa Maxwell 
Series: A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery, #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1617738301
ISBN-13: 978-1617738302
E-Book File Size: 681 KB
Amazon | Barnes&Noble |Kobo | IndieBoundGoodreads

Click here for a sneak peek! You can read Chapter 1 of Murder Most Malicious 
on Author Alyssa Maxwell's website.

The Review

I just read an amazing book, y'all — Murder Most Malicious by Alyssa Maxwell. Let me tell you a little about this historical mystery, the first in a new series.

Author Alyssa Maxwell is no stranger to historical mysteries, as she is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries. In Murder Most Malicious and the Lady and Lady's Maid Mysteries, she is changing eras and continents. 

Murder Most Malicious, set in post-Great War England, opens on Christmas Day, 1918, "the first peacetime holiday in nearly five years." The Lady of the series, Lady Phoebe, is the middle granddaughter of the Earl of Wroxly and Countess Wroxley — Grampapa and Grams to their four grandchildren, the three girls plus grandson Foxwood (Fox). The Earl and his wife are raising their grandchildren at Foxwood Hall, their estate outside Little Barlow in the Cotswolds, because of "one parent lost to childbirth — along with the babe — and the other to war." The Lady's Maid of the series is Eva Huntford, Lady's Maid for the Countess' three granddaughters — Julia (the eldest), Phoebe(19), and Amelia(15). Oh, and Eva is only seven years older than Phoebe.

In Murder Most Malicious, Author Alyssa Maxwell has incorporated many details of life in this era, both good and bad. She notes the wartime horrors endured by the soldiers, and the deprivations endured by those left at home and by everyone after the war. Some of these details include

  • the permanent effects of nerve gas on soldiers
  • soldiers with shell-shock, now known as PTSD 
  • women performing men's work during wartime, such as in munitions factories
  • the huge reduction in the number of young men, especially healthy young men, after the war   
The characters are also described in detail, and come across as genuine and realistic. 

Life, in an English manor house of an Earl and Countess in December 1918, was not fast-paced. Events proceeded in a more sedate manner, rather like they do on TV's Downton Abbey. The pace of Murder Most Malicious is not fast, but steady and sedate, in keeping with the times. 

Among my favorite parts of Murder Most Malicious, here are some that are spoiler-free.
▪ Julia, do you remember where Grampapa stashed that American novel he didn't want Grams to know he was reading? You know, the one about the boy floating up that large river to help his African friend?"
▪ Finally Eva spoke. "Absolutely not, my lady. I won't help you become involved in a criminal investigation. It's far too dangerous. You would do best to return to the drawing room with the others and let Inspector Perkins and his assistant perform their duties."
Some ten minutes later, Eva let out a sigh. "Honestly, my lady, I don't know how I let you talk me into coming outside."
▪ Phoebe sighed at her reflection. "It seems silly to be dressing for dinner at all. Even before Lord Allerton disappeared, I'd been thinking how stuck in the old ways we are here. The war changed so much. I've heard that in London girls go about alone, or accompanied by their beaux. They go to music clubs and the cinema and shopping all on their own, or with friends, without a chaperone in sight. And no one thinks anything of it." 
Eva let go a quiet laugh as she stepped back to inspect her handiwork on Phoebe's hair. "I suspect there are many people thinking a great many things about what some young women are doing nowadays. And I equally suspect precious few of those young ladies hail from families such as yours, my lady."
▪ ...Grams often took advantage of a married lady's prerogative to be served in bed as well.
▪ "But I haven't finished my breakfast."
"Now, Foxwood. To your room. I do not wish to see you downstairs again until luncheon."
"I'm banished 'til then?"
"Longer if you don't get up and go this instant. And during your banishment you might reflect on the sort of conduct befitting a future Peer of the Realm. Is that clear?"
I was quite surprised by whodunit. The ending is great! I am very much looking forward to reading the next Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery! 

I recommend Murder Most Malicious to all fans of historical mysteries, particularly those set in England in the post-WWI era. I think it will have special appeal to fans of Downton Abbey and, of course, Alyssa Maxwell's Gilded Newport Mysteries.    

I loved Murder Most Malicious by Alyssa Maxwell, and grant it Five Kitties!

Note:  I received a complimentary copy of Murder Most Malicious in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Click here to read other reviews, plus Author Interviews!

The Author

About Alyssa Maxwell

Alyssa Maxwell has worked in publishing as an assistant editor and a ghost writer, but knew from an early age that being a novelist was what she wanted most. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. 

She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. 

In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns while strolling manor house gardens, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons.

Find Alyssa on the web at

The Giveaway

Alyssa will award these fabulous prizes via rafflecopter during the tour.

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