Monday, May 17, 2010

Mystery Review: Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy

Ever since Olivia Paras whacked an intruder over the head with a commemorative skillet in State of the Onion, I've been a fan of Hyzy's work. So it was with a lot of excitement that I received an ARC for the first in her new Manor of Murder mystery series, Grace Under Pressure.

In this book, Grace Wheaton, assistant curator at the magnificent Marshfield Manor, must untangle the web of deceit and intrigue that surrounds the shocking murder of her boss. The trail leads her down a unexpected road into her own family secrets and puts her in the path of a killer bent on revenge.

I thought Grace was a satisfying heroine who is fully capable of running the estate but with plenty of cracks that threaten her composed surface. From a past that just won't lie down to an office assistant who irritates and helps in equal measure, Hyzy has an ability to layer her characters with plenty of conflict without seeming contrived.

The plot was carefully crafted and delivered an ending I did not see coming. I also enjoyed the setting of Marshfield Manor. It takes a skilled author to make the setting almost a character in and of itself, which Hyzy does well.

I'm looking forward to the next one in this series and especially some more face time with Jack Embers, the landscape architect at Marshfield. In my opinion, there wasn't enough of him, so props to Hyzy for leaving the reader wanting more. Grace Under Pressure is set to release in June.

(A Manor of Murder Mystery #1)
Berkley (Prime Crime), June 2010
ISBN-10: 0425235211
ISBN-13: 9780425235218
320 pages Paperback

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