I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Lovers of Downton Abbey, the fascinating television and movie productions penned by Julian Fellowes need to get in line at your local library and check out the works of Fellowes’ niece, Jessica, whose books include mysteries centered on the famous (and infamous) Mitford sisters.

She’s written three: The Mitford Murders, Bright Young Dead, and her latest: The Mitford Scandal. Well-written, perfectly researched, and cleverly crafted, they are just waiting to be adapted to a television series by BBC—just mark my words!

The Mitford Scandal opens in 1928, when the world is in a frenzy of partying, dancing the Charleston, and watching the stock market creep steadily upwards. The “Bright Young Things,” a group of wealthy young men and women in England, are becoming widely known for their outlandish behavior. Included in this world are the Mitford sisters, especially Nancy and Pamela, oldest of the six.

At a glamorous party that year, two things occur which change the family’s history forever. First, Pamela, the most beautiful of the girls, meets Bryan Guinness, heir to the fabulous Guinness fortune. She is only 18 years old, but falls madly in love.

The second momentous event at the party occurs when two maids fall through a skylight. One dies. The young ladies apparently crawled out onto the light in order to watch the beautifully dressed men and women dancing below.

The young woman’s death is ruled an accident.

Later Diana and Bryan marry and leave for an extended honeymoon on the Continent. Accompanying them will be Diana’s lady’s maid, Louisa Cannon, along with swarms of friends, family, and hangers-on as they travel from London to Paris to Venice.

Everything goes swimmingly until the travelers arrive in Paris and another death occurs, this time claiming the life of “one of them.”

It is Louisa, who has already been involved in previous murder investigations in the earlier novels, who sees links between the two deaths and who begins to suspect that a murderer is traveling with them. As the days turn into weeks, then into months, and finally into years, Louisa never gets over the feeling that instead of two unfortunate accidents there have been two cold-blooded murders.

And she’s right.

The Mitford Scandal is now at Stokely Memorial Library waiting for lovers of well-plotted murder mysteries to dive right in and match wits with an unlikely killer. I’ll just admit it now: I never saw it coming!

Located at 383 East Broadway, Stokely Memorial Library is open Mondays—Saturdays from 10-5 and may be reached by telephone at 423-623-3832.

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