Back to top

Werewolves, whoopee cushions, bioluminescent frogs and a ball

Cover of A Most Agreeable Murder: A
A review of A Most Agreeable Murder: A Novel by Julia Seales

The small English township of Swampshire provides a most agreeable setting for murder, mystery, mayhem and mayhap a little melding of hearts. Too much? Well, that's what A Most Agreeable Murder excels at. The residents of Swampshire head to an autumn ball at the largest local estate in order to meet an eligible bachelor named Croaksworth. The guests must pass through swamps that boast of glowing frogs and squelch holes in order to join a group of friends and enemies at the seemingly lavish, but actually crumbling estate. The area is also known for sudden and disastrous hailstorms and there may be werewolves in the woods. It hasn't been confirmed but it's definitely a possibility.

Amidst the flurry of frogs and other oddities, Beatrice Steele, the eldest of three marriageable Steele daughters, is hiding a devastating secret that could destroy the entire Steele family and dash her sisters' chances for making good matches. Beatrice dreams of solving murders, and, most unbecoming for a lady, reads the newspaper. If this were disclosed, she would be ruined. What Beatrice doesn't realize, however, is that everyone else at the ball has something terrible to hide, including her own family. While the beautiful Louisa Steele is dancing and hairy sister Mary hides in the kitchen gnawing on bones, Beatrice's dreams become a reality. A death takes place near the punch bowl! She joins forces with a disgraced private detective and the case is on.

This is the cleverest, funniest, most entertaining mash-up of Regency romance, Sherlock Holmes-style murder, locked-room mystery, and positive female empowerment. The ridiculous rules and restrictions Regency-era women faced make great fodder for this sparkling debu. It's already showing up on some of the Best Mystery/Thriller Novels of 2023 lists and no doubt will be included on more. 

Dec 4, 2023