A commission to paint a young woman’s portrait turns out to be murder for artist Iris Grey when she heads off to a castle in the wilds of Scotland.
If you haven’t already met the irresistible Iris, then now is the time to curl up with this delightfully contemporary amateur sleuth whose entertaining mysteries possess all the cosy charm and clever intrigue of the Golden Age of detective fiction.
Murder at the Castle is the second Iris Grey Mystery from the pen of bestselling author Tilly Bagshawe, writing under the pseudonym of M.B. Shaw, and it’s a fun and fast-paced reading experience as we are immersed in a world of hidden lies, village gossip, family feuds and murder.
In the star role is the likeable Iris whose sharp eye and artistic flair are matched only by her incisive wit and dogged determination as she picks her way through a maze of twists and turns, red herrings and shifty suspects, to dig out the truth behind some buried secrets.
There could be a lot worse commissions for Iris than a stay at Pitfeldy Castle on the coast of Banffshire in north-east Scotland. Her latest patron is the castle’s owner, Baron Jock MacKinnon who has hired Iris to paint a portrait of his fiancée Kathy Miller – an American socialite who is decades younger than the elderly Jock – ahead of their forthcoming wedding.
Jock’s letters haven’t been exactly warm and welcoming so Iris is not sure what to expect when she arrives at the castle – whose chilly atmospherics are ‘less Downton Abbey and more Scooby Doo’ –but soon Kathy, who persuaded Jock to commission Iris for the portrait, is taking the artist into her confidence.
Kathy has received a series of threatening notes telling her to call off the wedding and it’s soon clear that the family are not overjoyed about the planned nuptials, not least Jock’s ‘dark and vulpine’ son Rory and frosty daughter Emma who both hate Kathy ‘with a passion.’
As Iris begins to investigate the menacing notes, human remains are discovered in the grounds of the castle and she fears for Kathy's safety. With the wedding fast approaching, can Iris uncover the truth before it is too late?
Murder at the Castle is the perfect companion for long winter evenings… an addictive mystery that sweeps us from the chilly coast of Scotland to the beauty and wonders of Venice as Iris battles a dense web of secrets and lies to find justice for the dead.
With a cast of colourful characters to enjoy, a gripping plot that keeps the pages turning, and an atmosphere redolent of all that’s best about nostalgic crime fiction, Shaw’s multi-layered mystery is a fabulous, festive treat.
(Trapeze, paperback, £8.99)