Jessica Fellowes (The World of Downton Abbey; The Mitford Murders) explores the dramatic end of the 1920s in The Mitford Scandal, the third entry in her Mitford Murders series. Louisa Cannon, former nursery maid to the Mitford sisters and new ladies' maid to Miss Diana Mitford, is appalled when a young housemaid falls to her death at a large party in 1928. She thinks it's merely a freak accident, until further deaths take place within the illustrious social circle of Diana and Bryan Guinness, her wealthy new husband, over the next few years. Louisa realizes that all these deaths cannot be mere coincidences, and turns to Guy Sullivan, a detective sergeant who has made no secret of his affection for her, to help her discover what is going on.
Meticulously researched, The Mitford Scandal draws on the lives of the six real Mitford sisters, and their roles among the "Bright Young Things" in the late '20s. Moving in exalted and bohemian social circles that included artists, writers such as Evelyn Waugh, and aristocrats, the Mitford sisters were at the top of avant-garde English society. Louisa's position as ladies' maid, which places her somewhere between the upstairs aristocrats and the downstairs servants, affords her excellent opportunities for eavesdropping and investigating, creating a slow-paced but enjoyable mystery. Fellowes, niece of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, knows the history of this era well, and uses her knowledge and a flair for appealing fiction to create a delightful entry in this historical mystery series. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.