Book Review: “Murder at the Wedding” by Helena Dixon

(A big thank you to NetGalley for supplying a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!)

While I was planning Alex’s and my wedding, I thought it would be fun to read a cozy mystery that takes place at a wedding. After all, aren’t weddings the perfect setting for cozies? With large numbers of guests, emotions running high, and everyone decked out in extravagant clothing, a wedding has endless possibilities for things to go awry.

And so I came across Murder at the Wedding, a historical cozy mystery by Helena Dixon. I figured that since I was busy stressing about worst-case scenarios for my own wedding, why not read about a wedding that was sure to be more chaotic than ours? Despite my free range anxiety about event planning, I felt fairly confident my own upcoming wedding was, at the very least, unlikely to involve murder.

Murder at the Wedding is the seventh in Dixon’s “Miss Underhay Mystery” series, a set of novels centering around the clever Miss Kitty Underhay, a sleuth in early 1930s England. I don’t often pick up books in the middle of a series, but Dixon does a terrific job weaving past events into the story. As a reader jumping into the series, I didn’t at all feel like I was too far behind to understand (or simply enjoy) this book.

The story begins with a wedding announcement in the local paper. Kitty Underhay, a woman seemingly plagued by mysteries, has been invited to be a bridesmaid in her cousin Lucy’s wedding. The ceremony is scheduled to be held in Thurscomb Castle, an old estate that’s been in the groom’s family for years.

Accompanied by her cheerful maid Alice, Kitty sets out to help her cousin prepare for her marriage to the sweet Mr. Rupert Woodcomb. From the moment of Kitty and Alice’s arrival, something seems amiss. The typically thoughtful Lucy has forgotten to send a car to pick them up as planned, and Kitty and Alice are forced to arrive to the castle later than expected.

Upon her arrival, Kitty meets several other wedding guests who are spending the week at Thurscomb Castle. Some of the guests she’s previously met, but many of the others strike her as peculiar. There’s a friendly American named Mr. Barnes, who is attending the wedding alongside his daughter Moira and her quick-to-anger husband Sandy. Two other guests are a gorgeous woman by the name of Calliope and her politically driven husband Sinclair. Also staying at the castle are the groom’s sister Daisy and her husband Aubrey, both constantly under watch by his quarrelsome mother Adalia.

Matt, Kitty’s own partner who mourns a tragic past, later joins the wedding group. It isn’t long before Kitty quickly becomes embroiled in mystery amidst this idyllic setting. From a possible ghost roaming the premises to an unexplained death, there is no shortage of strange things happening in Thurscomb Castle. Kitty does her best to piece together a puzzling series of clues and figure out which of the wedding guests might not be who they appear to be.

This book was so much fun to read! I love castle settings and thought Dixon described the location well. I appreciated the fact that most of the characters were distinct from one another, which was especially since there were so many introduced at once.

Something about this book reminded me of a Nancy Drew mystery (in a good way!), and I’m trying to put my finger on it. I think it may have been the mixture of the old, crumbling castle setting, the fancy dinner parties and dresses, and the sprinkling of ghostly elements.

I do wish more of the plot had focused on some of those ghostly elements, though, mostly because I love the paranormal. I almost think the ghost subplot could have worked better as the basis for a separate story, but it was still fun to read about. This story was still a lovely read that I finished in one or two sittings. I’m definitely marking the Miss Underhay series as one to watch out for.

If you’re all about cozy mysteries or simply want to feel better about your own wedding planning, definitely check out this book!

Have you read any books by Helena Dixon? What are your favorite cozy mysteries? Leave a comment and let everyone know!

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