Loch Down Abbey by Beth Cowan-Erskine
Amy Caudill‘s review
In a story that combines the social mores of Downton Abbey with the recent panic created by COVID-19, the staff of a noble household must determine if someone killed the head of the family, the Earl, or if it was a tragic accident. With an entire household of self-involved relatives with numerous secrets of their own, an inept local police Inspector, and a staff largely bedridden with a mysterious plague, Head Housekeeper Mrs. MacBain has her work cut out for her.
In 1930s Scotland, a prominent family is on the verge of collapse. Their family business is in ruin, not helped by the death of the father or the ascension to the title of his oldest son, Angus, who does nothing all day but hide in the tennis pavilion with his brother-in-law, Hugh.
The younger son, Fergus, has had a plan to try to save the family fortune, but neither father nor brother listens to him. After his father’s death, this situation puts him on MacBain’s suspect list, but she cannot find evidence to tie him in. Of course, there are others with far more motive.
When the will is read, the Earl’s wife’s Lady’s maid is left a stipend, as is the family ward, whom was rescued from an orphanage. Why is Iris given the same stipend as the Earl’s younger children? The more the family try to hide, the more the secrets will come out, thanks to a depleted staff and a number of family children running wild, as well as a desperate search for valuables to sell to save their home.
Meanwhile, the illness is forcing the remaining healthy staff to wear mask and gloves while waiting on the family, and shortages of flour, sugar, and toilet paper created some humorous situations and tantrums from the more entitled residents.
In the end, the mystery is solved, the spoilt occupants of Loch Down Abbey get their just rewards, and the Abbey is sold to begin a new era, with new owners that remain a mystery up to the end of the book.
This book was more of a spoof than an actual mystery, but it was an entertaining read. I enjoyed the fact that it combined the setting of a period drama with modern day issues and did so while being true to the time period and the behavior of the characters.
I give the story four stars and recommend it to fans of both mysteries and historical fiction.