A Trace of Poison

Book Review

A Trace of Poison by Colleen Cambridge

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.” — Agatha Christie

Reader’s Thoughts:

When I first saw that there was a cozy mystery series being released about Agatha Christie’s fictional, murder-solving housekeeper, I was all in! The first in the series, Murder at Mallowan Hall was released last year and I had such fun with it, I knew I had to get my hands on book two.

I usually approach the second book in a series with cautious optimism. (I’ve been let down with many a sequel.) However, I’m thrilled to say that A Trace of Poison was a delightful read, and I enjoyed it even more than book one!

The story follows Phyllida Bright who, once again, finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Phyllida is an efficient housekeeper with a penchant for sniffing out clues. (Anything to protect her beloved friend, Agatha, from the spotlight she dreads, right?) There is even a bit of romantic tension building and a couple of potential love interests for Phyllida — one of whom was Bradford, the chauffeur. Their interactions added an extra dose of lightness and humor to the story and I’ll definitely be rooting for them to get together in the future!

In addition, the setting for this novel was particularly enjoyable. The murder takes place at a Murder Fête — which is just the sort of wonderful irony I love in cozy mysteries like this. Better yet? The suspects are all aspiring writers of detective fiction! As the cherry on top, A Trace of Poison also gives us a dash of other real-life authors like G.K Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers, who (alongside Agatha Christie) are judging the Murder Fete’s writing contest. While this adds up to a lot of characters, I had no trouble distinguishing them as their personalities were unique.

The final twist was also really well done. At the halfway mark of the novel, I was convinced I’d figured out the “whodunnit.” Little did I know that Cambridge had me exactly where she wanted me. The final reveal delivered a spectacular finale that I couldn’t help but applaud — the author got me with this one!

Overall, the murderous setting and abundance of slightly over-the-top characters created a really entertaining read. After this book, I look forward to the next installment of the Phyllida Bright series with anticipation! (And in the meantime, Cambridge has another series in the works — a mystery featuring a friend of Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Murder. After thoughtful and entertaining manner in which she’s handled this series with my all-time favorite author, I’ll definitely be adding that one to my TBR too!)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Recommended for:

Readers who love historical, cozy mysteries and fans of Agatha Christie

This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ARC provided courtesy of the publisher, Kensington Books. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book:

(From the publisher): Phyllida Bright, housekeeper for Agatha Christie, must uncover a killer among a throng of crime writers.

In England’s stately manor houses, murder is not generally a topic for polite conversation. Mallowan Hall, home to Agatha Christie and her husband, Max, is the exception. And housekeeper Phyllida Bright delights in discussing gory plot details with her friend and employer . . .

The neighboring village of Listleigh has also become a hub of grisly goings-on, thanks to a Murder Fête organized to benefit a local orphanage. Members of The Detection Club—a group of celebrated authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha herself—will congregate for charitable events, including a writing contest for aspiring authors. The winner gets an international publishing contract, and entrants have gathered for a cocktail party—managed by the inimitable Phyllida—when murder strikes too close even for her comfort.

It’s a mystery too intriguing for Phyllida to resist, but one fraught with duplicity and danger, for every guest is an expert in murder—and how to get away with it.

Leave a Reply