For fans of: Donna Andrews' Meg Langslow Mysteries and Sheila Connolly's Museum Mysteries
When Civil War re-enactors set up camp on the grounds of Marshfield Manor, Curator Grace Wheaton doesn't expect her guests and employees will really even notice their presence; after all, the group’s staying on the very outskirts of the property, and the camp is supposed to be closed to visitors except for during the specially designated "Living History" hours. But then a re-enactor gets himself killed, and before Grace knows it, police invade, nosy onlookers descend, and chaos erupts.
Plenty of folks had cause to want Zachary Kincade dead, but the local police seem determined to focus their investigation on Marshfield's landscape architect, Jack Embers. Not only does Jack not have an alibi for the time of the murder, but it turns out he was the prime suspect in Zachary's brother Lyle’s unsolved murder nearly fifteen years ago. Grace knows Jack isn’t capable of murder, but she seems to be alone in her belief. Does she have what it takes to exonerate her friend, put the real killer behind bars, and restore peace to the Marshfield grounds?
Grace Interrupted is the second in Julie Hyzy's Manor House Mystery series, and it’s a darn good book. Hyzy’s not only an immensely talented writer, but she's a heck of a storyteller, to boot. Her prose is graceful, vibrant, and just plain smart. Her imagery is striking, and she makes sure you to show you the world through all of Grace's senses, making for a fully immersive reading experience. She does a fantastic job of tying past events to present, making the reader genuinely invested in both. And somehow, she makes you understand the appeal of participating in a war reenactment (no mean feat for a girl who likes her creature comforts as much as I do!).
Grace is a great heroine – sweet and kind, yet steely and intelligent. Her roommates, Bruce and Scott, are fabulous supporting characters; charming, funny, and fully three-dimensional, their warm and supportive relationship with Grace makes all three seem more human. And officious assistant Frances and slimy, overzealous PI Ronny Tooney round out the cast nicely, adding humor while simultaneously forwarding the plot.
As for Jack, I liked him a great deal more in the series debut than I did here; for some reason, his tendency to aggressively pursue Grace only to then back away like she’s on fire when life gets complicated doesn’t quite ring true with what we know about his character. That said, he’s otherwise very charming, and I hope the future holds better things for him and Grace.
Hyzy’s Manor House Mysteries are quieter tales than those in her fabulous White House Chef Mystery series (the circumstances of the series necessitate it), but they’re no less masterfully crafted for it. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Grace Interrupted; it’s a great way to pass a lazy summer weekend.