Ashley Weaver invigorates the venerable village mystery with A Deception at Thornecrest, her seventh novel about British aristocrats Amory and Milo Ames. Set during 1934 in Kent, England, the tightly focused plot emphasizes its appealing, realistic characters as Weaver's affinity for details makes the story fresh.
Eight months pregnant with her first child, Amory is visited by Imogen Prescott, a stranger who arrives at Thornecrest, the Ameses' country home in the village of Allingcross. Imogen maintains she married Milo three months earlier in London. Although her six-year marriage has been challenging, Amory believes in her husband's integrity. Besides, bigamy would be too much an effort for Milo. Imogen confirms the mistake when Milo returns. The couple has yet another surprise--the arrival of Darien Ames, Milo's illegitimate half-brother he never knew existed. Darien not only inherited an astounding resemblance but also Milo's former wild ways. Dismissing Imogen's claims, Darien quickly takes up with a local woman, reinforcing "the swiftly lethal aim of the Ames charm," muses Amory. Amory's sleuthing skills kick in when Darien is accused of murdering a young stable worker during the village's annual Springtide Festival.
The affable, intelligent Amory respects tradition while embracing modern ways. Amory doesn't believe that pregnant women should be sequestered, nor is she afraid to speak her mind. Weaver cleverly makes Amory's investigation believable because it affects her family, while including humor and historical details as she did in A Dangerous Engagement. The Ameses' deep love and respect for each other highlight the charming A Deception at Thornecrest. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer