A stately home provides the backdrop for a modern mystery.
The WISE Enquiries Agency is based in London, but the four partners represent the entire British Isles. Carol Hill is a pregnant Welsh computer expert who holds down the office. Annie Parker is a Londoner of Caribbean background. Mavis MacDonald, a Scot, is a retired nurse. The last member of the agency, the Honorable Christine Wilson-Smythe, is an Irishwoman. Though the agency is in financial trouble, a new case bids fair to change the partners’ lives forever. Henry Twyst, the 18th Duke of Chellingworth in Wales, thinks his mother, Althea, the dowager duchess, is losing her mind. There have been a few strange incidents, but the event that pushes the duke to call the ladies of WISE is Althea’s report of finding the dead body of a young man in the dining room of the Dower House, where she lives. When the duke investigates, all he finds is a bobble hat. The police don’t take it seriously, but it’s certainly enough for the agency to investigate. Carol stays home to do computer research. Christine, who knows the duke, goes to Chellingworth as a houseguest, and Mavis, to the Dower House, where she poses as an old friend of the duchess. Annie’s residence at a nearby pub whose publican hails from her area of London is abruptly terminated by her disappearance, presumably because she’s asked too many questions. After spending time with the duchess, Mavis is convinced that she’s quite sane. There really was a dead body; all they have to do is find it.
In a change from her Cait Morgan series (The Corpse with the Platinum Hair, 2014, etc.), Ace introduces a pleasantly quirky set of detectives who have their own diverse methods of crime-solving.