Alexis Hall came for capitalism in the very first chapter, so this cozy mystery was magnificent from the start. As if we would expect anything less. Our intrepid investigators are a married couple desperately in need of therapy: true crime podcaster Liza and finance fancy human Hanna. It meets the cozy definition with ease, holing up in a castle hotel on a stormy weekend with quite a cast of characters on hand.
The story positively thrives on the comical exactitude of squeezing a lady in a peacock shawl, a professor in plum, a vicar in green, a colonel in a mustard tie, and our investigators around one dinner table with a chef by the name of White in the kitchen. The Clue-esque delights continue with a seductress in a scarlet 1940s-style dress who goes by "Ruby" and knows secrets pertaining to the murder. There's also a private detective with delusions of Poirot who is guilty of referring to himself in the third person and throwing around unnecessary French phrases, so consider me DEAD on arrival. The characters take themselves quite seriously and some of their antics made me laugh so hard, I genuinely snorted and/or cried. There are also some fun layout Easter eggs, so expect to find the billiard room adjacent to the library and a certain secret passage off the conservatory.
This was a wacky, fun mystery with a litany of great one-liners (all diligently highlighted by yours truly) and a pleasant degree of self-awareness. Between Liza's itch of curiosity to solve the murder(s) and Hanna's insistence on not being too gruesomely disrespectful or enthusiastically reckless, the two make a great team. It's one of the best cozies I've had the pleasure of reading, and I highly recommend it. My thanks to Kobo and Valentine PR for my copy to read and review.
Moderate: Blood, Murder, and Violence
Minor: Colonisation, Gun violence, Injury/injury detail, Lesbophobia, Racism, Sexism, Sexual harassment, Suicide, and War