Loch Down Abbey by Beth Cowan-Erskine

One of the few books of my December TBR that I actually read 😉

Themes: Mystery, historical fiction

The synopsis

It’s the 1930s and a mysterious illness is spreading over Scotland. But the noble and ancient family of Inverkillen, residents of Loch Down Abbey, are much more concerned with dwindling toilet roll supplies and who will look after the children now that Nanny has regretfully (and most inconveniently) departed this life.

Then Lord Inverkillen, Earl and head of the family, is found dead in mysterious circumstances. The inspector declares it an accident but Mrs MacBain, the head housekeeper, isn’t so convinced. As no one is allowed in or out because of the illness, the residents of the house – both upstairs and downstairs – are the only suspects. With the Earl’s own family too busy doing what can only be described as nothing, she decides to do some digging – in between chores, of course – and in doing so uncovers a whole host of long-hidden secrets, lies and betrayals that will alter the dynamics of the household for ever.

The review

Since I’m currently in the mood for mysteries and that Scotland is my favourite country, I decided to pick this one as an easy read for December. And I have to say that I really enjoyed it!

The first thing that I retain from this book is the narration. I loved the fact that we are going from the thoughts of one character to the other. It allowed me to have the perspectives from people upstairs and downstairs, and to unravel the family’s secrets with them. The process was very fluid and something that could have been confusing was very simple to follow. It also allows the reader to learn a bit more about the characters since they are not very developed throughout the book.

The murder mystery is presented in the same spirit since it is happening during a normal day for both the family and the servants. The governess decides to investigate it but does it between two tasks of her routine. To be honest, it was not difficult to find who is involved and what happened. What was really developed was the situation the family is in. The story could have happened anywhere in UK since the only references to Scotland were names, some references to cities, and the omnipresence of whisky. But the story was well set in the 1930s, and I was watching the fall of an aristocratic family, unable and unwilling to change what is happening to them.

In brief: don’t choose this book if you’re looking for a real mystery/thriller because you’ll find it disappointed so much this part is an excuse to write about something else. However, if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey you’ll probably enjoy watching the fate of this very loud, self-centred family.

My rating: 3,5/5

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