‘Murder is easy … when it doesn’t look like murder’
– The Mystery of Four
[ Synopsis of The Mystery of Four ]
Tess Morgan has finally made her dream of restoring beautiful Kilfenora House and Gardens into a reality.
But during rehearsals for the play that forms the opening weekend’s flagship event, her dream turns into a nightmare when a devastating accident looks set to ruin her carefully laid plans.
There are rumours that Kilfenora House is cursed, but this feels personal, and becomes increasingly terrifying when more than one body is discovered. Could someone be closing in on Tess herself?
Clarissa Westmacott, ex star of stage and screen, certainly believes so, particularly when she learns that purple-flowered aconite has been picked from the Poison Garden. And Clarissa will stop at nothing to protect the friend she has come to see as a daughter…
[ My Review ]
The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake will publish January 5th 2023 with Corvus Books and is described as ‘a brilliantly twisty country house-set thriller.’
Immediately after the opening pages, I knew that I was in safe hands with this book. It can be very reassuring returning to an author whose writing you are very familiar with. In her most recent books, Sam Blake is veering toward a more Agatha Christie style, which is hardly surprising as she is a huge fan. The setting is clear from the offset, the characters are all established, the crime/crimes are committed and a little amateur sleuthing takes place.
In The Mystery of Four, Sam Blake brings her readers to the beautiful Co. Wicklow, which is also a part of Ireland that Sam Blake is extremely familiar with, adding great authenticity of location to the tale. Tess Morgan makes a decision to purchase Kilfenora House and Gardens, with the help of a private investor. Having been away in Dubai for years, following a terrible tragedy in Ireland, Tess made the decision to finally come back and put down her roots.
The restoration of Kilfenora House, and her future plans, are the perfect distraction to keep Tess’s mind and hands busy. With a major opening weekend planned, it’s a case of all hands on deck as the preparations reach fever-pitch. Tess is exhausted but also quite proud of her achievements. She has the support of her best friend, Gen and Gen’s mother, Clarissa Westmacott throughout the whole project and it is this that has kept her going.
With less than a fortnight to go before the grand opening Tess is made aware of an accident at the rehearsal for Doctor Faustus, the play that will be part of the launch. A cast member is seriously injured, following what is initially perceived to be an accident, causing a little disruption. But in true acting style, the show must go on and Tess is relieved to see the cast prepared to step up and continue undeterred.
With rumours of a curse that lies over Kilfenora House quickly swept under the carpet, Tess decides to keep moving forward with her plans. She is shaken by the accident, and that, combined with feeling below par in herself, causes her a little concern. But Tess is made of tough stuff, finding excuses like the weather and the business of life being bound to knock her sideways.
Tess is awoken early one morning with the news of a missing person. A search of Kilfenora is undertaken and a body is discovered. Everyone is understandably shocked and upset, especially following on from the previous accident on the property. Tess has put everything into this project and fears for her own future, while also conscious of a community in mourning. Does she now go ahead with her plans? Can she salvage her investment?
With the discovery of another body, it soon becomes quite clear that something more sinister is at play at Kilfenora House. Tess is facing possible financial ruin as things get out of control but Clarissa has her suspicions and will do whatever is necessary to protect Tess.
The Mystery of Four is a cosy and entertaining novel, the perfect read for all who enjoy a classic whodunit. Sam Blake knows her audience and I think that her delivery is bang on, appealing to all readers who enjoy murder mysteries with a nod to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. And of course I must mention Merlin the cat, who is actually a member of Sam Blake’s family and whom she describes as ‘very hissy and grumpy’.
[ Bio ]
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout and has assisted many award-winning and bestselling authors to publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.
Twitter ~ @samblakebooks