Harrington Manor is one of those sleeper hits. It literally came out of nowhere and claimed my heart.
Set in the 1920s in California, the book depicts a different picture of the roaring 20s. I recently read a Daisy Gumm mystery set around the same time. I reviewed Redesigning Emma, which was based on the east coast. Harrington Manor is a princely estate near Los Angeles spanning thousands of acres. Lush orange groves fill the land which has been developed by Coloner Peter Harrington.
The Harrington household is full with a loving wife and four squabbling children. Well, adults, actually. Shep and Reggie are trying to browbeat their father into selling off all the land so that they can move to the east coast. Shep, the oldest, thinks that the East coast is something romantic and glorious. Orson, the youngest son is almost like a hippie but is the smartest. He takes care of the land and loves working with the crops. Margot, the daughter, is spoiled by everyone.
A minor crisis happens in the small town when the mail is late. The local busybody rushes to the manor so she can get the latest gossip. A dear friend of Mrs. Harrington arrives and everyone congregates round the pool. But the same day finds the colonel dead, possibly murdered.
Detective Sidney Snipes is summoned from the big city and he takes in the scene. No one is above suspicion. The colonel’s will has some surprises, or rather shocks, for the people. Another old mystery comes to light when a neighboring rancher’s body is recovered. Are the two events related?
Harrington Manor is a leisurely mystery. It paints such a charming picture of a fantastic life, you can almost ignore that it is murder mystery. Imagine owning thousands of acres of orange groves, not to mention tons of land in Hollywood? A dream world, surely.
The book is well written, and it has me off to a good start in 2015. Grab a cool iced drink, and head to the dream, albeit realistic world of Harrington Manor.