Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney

When a ghost in Colonial dress creates trouble for Elizabeth Smithwood in her old Virginia plantation house, she calls her good friend, Mary, for help. Mary is determined to come to the rescue, so Ellen McKenzie is forced to go along to make sure her aunt stays out of trouble.

What Mary and Ellen find when they arrive is a sprawling estate comprised of three buildings with secret passageways, the old slave cabins, and some confusion over who exactly owns what. After Monty--the so-called ghost and the stepson of Elizabeth's deceased husband--is found dead in her home, Elizabeth finds herself under suspicion for murder; the cause of death being a poisoned glass of syllabub from the batch sitting in Elizabeth's refrigerator. Though Monty's enemies are many, Ellen and Aunt Mary will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas to catch a killer.

I absolutely loved this book! Cozies have been one of my favorite genres since I was a kid, and this one was superb. Even though this is the fifth book in the Ellen McKenzie Mystery series, I didn't feel a bit lost because this is a perfect stand alone novel.

Aunt Mary receives words from Elizabeth that she needs help with a ghost who seems to be trying to kill her, so Mary decides she must go. That means Ellen is going, too. Then Monty is found murdered in the house and all hell breaks loose. A community of quirky characters--many of whom had a reason to want Monty dead--fill the pages of this book.

As a person who is fascinated with history and the Civil War, Murder By Syllabub was the perfect kind of cozy because it explored the history of families,  and the history of the house and its belongings played a role in the plot. Several twists and turns keep the reader guessing who might have murdered Monty and why. While the ending didn't come as a complete surprise to me, I still found it completely satisfying. I would love to read the previous four books in this series, and I'll be eager to see what Ellen gets involved in next.

Highly recommended.

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Camel Press
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 298

ISBN: 978-1-60381-957-2



Kathleen Delaney has written four previous Ellen McKenzie Real Estate mysteries, but has never before transported her characters out of California. A number of years ago she visited Colonial Williamsburg and fell in love. Long fascinated with our country’s history, especially the formation years, she knew she wanted to set a story there. Another trip with her brother and sister-in-law solidified the idea that had been rolling around in her head but she needed more information. A phone call to the nice people at Colonial Williamsburg provided her with appointments to visit the kitchen at the Payton Randolph house, where she got her first lesson in hearth cooking and a meeting with the people who manage the almost extinct animal breeds the foundation is working to preserve. A number of books purchased at the wonderful bookstore at the visitor’s center gave her the additional information she needed and the story that was to become Murder by Syllabub came into being. Kathleen lived most of her life in California but now resides in Georgia. She is close to many historical sites, which she has eagerly visited, not only as research for this book but because the east is rich in monuments to the history of our country. Luckily, her grandchildren are more than willing to accompany her on their tours of exploration. You can find Kathleen on the Web at

I received a digital version of this book from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

This is the 10th book I've read for the following challenge:


CMash said...

What a fantastic review. Thank you for sharing your insight. So glad you enjoyed it.

Unknown said...

This was a wonderful review. You caught the essence of what I was trying to say, and I appreciate it. Hope you enjoy the other books as well.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you liked the review. Kathleen, I added the other books to this series to my Amazon wish list.