Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Bicycle Built for Murder by Kate Kingsbury

A Bicycle Built for Murder by Kate Kingsbury is the first in the series regarding Manor House in Sitting Marsh. The setting is World War II and Elizabeth Hartleigh Compton is the Lady in charge of Manor House since her parents passed away. Being Lady of the Manor entails looking after the welfare of her residents in Sitting Marsh. One of the residents of Sitting Marsh welfare isn't so good, in fact, she's dead. Beryl Pierce, daughter of Winnie and Stan Pierce, has been found dead on the beach. Lady Elizabeth decides to take matters into her own hands as Lady of the Manor and due to the laziness and incompetence of the police department since they took all the eligible young men away and left the older, cantankerous, not-so-able men behind. Also, Winnie's bugging the hell out of Lady Elizabeth. The cherry on top of this Bloody Sundae is American GIs have been ordered to occupy her Manor as it's the only place available to house quite a few men. But Lady Elizabeth perseveres and solves the case of the murdered girl, the case of the American GIs is still pending.

I really enjoy Kate Kingsbury's writing. She has another series involving the Cecily Sinclair, widow and owner of Pennyfoot Hotel, which also takes place in war-time England. In the Manor series, she introduces some pretty quirky characters, Violet and Martin, the Manor's housekeeper and butler, respectively. Violet is a lot outspoken and Martin is showing his age, even if he doesn't admit it. Lady Elizabeth is too sentimental and broke (due to her ex-husband squandering their money) to let either one of them go and bring in new people. These people have been with her since her parents died, giving her great comfort and they are characters. There's also a hint of romance with Major Monroe, the leader of American GIs.

I'm amused by coincidences. I picked up A Bicycle Built for Murder and The Cruellest Month. In this case, both books had a similar theme (aside from murder). A Bicycle Built for Murder takes place during World War II. The Cruellest Month doesn't, but there are events referring to war-time women writers and the woman reads a journal of a woman who worked on a farm during World War II. Each of these points involves a young girl who gets pregnant by an American GI and both girls are murdered. Kingsbury and Holt are British authors, though they are not the same person. I just find this amusing how I picked two books to read back to back and how similar they turned out to be. Just like my current coincidence, where I'm fixing the screen on my laptop and my desktop monitor has become possessed.


Amanda said...

You know, I've decided I don't like the title of this book. Every time I come visit 5-Squared, and see this entry, I get Disney stuck in my head. ;)

Unknown said...

Oh yes... you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle... BUILT FOR MURDER!