Set in 1946 England, Murder at Rutherford Hall is a gripping tale that will have you turning pages till the end to figure out ?whodunit?! When Lord Rutherford disappears suddenly and unaccountably and his breathtakingly beautiful, young wife Celia flees Rutherford Hall, with blood on her hands, on a cold November evening, it sets off a chain of events that irrevocably changes the lives of all involved and consequently the fortunes of the entire family. Rachel Markham, Lord Rutherford?s niece and Jeremy Richards, an erstwhile Scotland Yard Detective team up to help the local police force unravel the mystery. Along the way, the charming characters simply pull you in to a setting of elaborate richness woven with bits and bobs of British humour and portraits of a bygone era where homes were large and beautiful, people dressed for dinners and life moved with a certain grace for the privileged. Against this enchanting backdrop, love and betrayal, life and death, laughter and grief, wealth and poverty come together to provide an immensely entertaining read.
First look at the cover and title and it definitely impresses with it's wonderful design and premium feel. It's more of a hardcover copy than a paperback version of the book. Praises about the book along with the ratings will set the mood for the readers. The blurb is an ideal setup for a murder mystery with hints of what's gone wrong and what all readers can expect in the story. The blurb does fair justice to the title.
The story starts off with a sudden disappearance of Lord Rutherford from his mansion Rutherford Hall on a get together. A sudden bump off of Celia into Detective Jeremy's car with bloodied hands leaves lots of suspicions and the fingers are pointed out to the gatherings of family and close associates. After that a wild goose chase by Inspector Parker and retired Detective Jeremy leads to some startling revelations and a sudden appearance of a second body complicates things a lot.
The story is remarkably smooth and has got all the elements in to make it a very good mystery plot. A retired detective, some edgy family members like Celia's mother, an ex-flame of Celia, few nagging servants and a small and a calm countryside with creepy woods and not a lot of population. A lot of action has been spread out in terms of surprise in the novel. It's a fairly quick read when compared to other murder mysteries. The character and the story build up are the strong points of the book. The 1940's setup is also an added advantage to the mystery element of the plot.
There are few spacing errors in the book. It won't be an eyesore though. Some readers might find it an easy paced novel with not a lot of elements of surprise and too short a story to make it an impact on the mysterious minds of the readers. It lacks detailing which is the biggest drawback of the story. Likes of Sherlock Holmes & Hercules Poirot are always filled in with the minutest details. More emphasis has been given to Rachel Markham rather than Detective Jeremy which is also a party spoiler in the book.
It's a good attempt at penning down a murder mystery on the lines of Agatha Christie. Some touches to the edges of the story and a little fine tuning in the details of the plot in the future books will make it a very interesting prospect for the readers.
3 OUT OF 5.