Money may be the root of all evil, but is it the motive for murder?
Julia and Phoebe Renshaw know they must make wealthy marriages to keep the estate of the Earl of Wroxley afloat. But duty is rubbing up against love, especially for Julia, the beautiful elder daughter enamored of a nobleman whose estate is near ruin. The daughters have been invited to visit their cousin Regina Brockhurst, who’s just purchased a home with the money she inherited from her father—much to the dismay of her mother, Lady Mandeville, her brother, Hastings, and his wife, Verna, who were left with little to support their pretensions. Phoebe’s trusted maid, Eva, and Julia’s sulky new maid, Miss Myra Stanley, are greeted by Regina’s dear friend Olive Asquith, whom they take for an upper-level servant. But it’s not so: Regina and Olive are making do with only a cook and her helper. Regina is mysterious about her plans for her new home, and when her unhappy relatives arrive with the family lawyer, they immediately accuse her of killing her father. The fog of enmity thickens when Regina is found dead in her bed, stabbed with the dowager’s hatpin. Phoebe and Eva, no strangers to crime-solving (A Pinch of Poison, 2016, etc.), know that the investigation will mostly be in the hands of Eva’s love, Constable Miles Brannock. Regina’s family would prefer to believe she was killed by Olive, an apparent outsider whose socialist tendencies belie her wealthy background. As they watch the family’s feeble gestures of mourning—Hastings floats around in what appears to be a whiskey-induced stupor, while his mother and wife shed no tears for Regina—the two sleuths devise a clever plan to catch the killer.
An unusual twist rooted in the recent horrors of World War I adds interest to a typical country-house mystery.