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The Poisoned Chalice Murder

The Poisoned Chalice Murder A 1920s English mystery by Diane Janes Severn House Historical Fiction Pub Date 01 Nov 2018


Diane James’s second 1920s mystery, The Poisoned Chalice Murder, is even more enjoyable than her debut - a stunning accomplishment. Frances Black and Tom Dod are a charming pair of amateur detectives, working well together despite a frisson of attraction they dare not act upon. Frances is the more perceptive of the duo, and the novel focuses on her perspective. Diane James skillfully portrays the social dilemmas Frances is faced with. Being separated from her husband is scandalous, despite the fact that he ran off with another woman. Accepting a divorce, even more so. As a woman on her own, being respectable is of central importance. Tom is also constrained, as he married his dead brother’s fiancée so their children would be legitimate.

Tom’s aunt has asked them to look into a trio of deaths. Superficially they don’t appear suspicious, but each of the deceased challenged the changes made by the new vicar. The village is divided, with some rabidly in support of Rev. Pinder, while others are uncomfortable with the controversial changes and Pinder’s adversarial approach. This is the first time Frances and Tom have purposefully initiated an investigation, so it is natural that they stumble at times and don’t always ask the right questions- or realize the importance of the answers they have received. It’s likely, but perfectly understandable that the reader will solve the mystery before they do. This doesn’t detract from the entertainment value. Were the deaths tragic accidents, or murders skillfully hidden? In this case the “how” is as important as the motive.

The Poisoned Chalice Murder is a charming 1920s mystery that can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages. If you enjoy Agatha Christie or other historical mysteries, you will definitely enjoy this post WWI British mystery series.

5 / 5

I received a copy of The Poisoned Chalice Murder from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.

— Crittermom


Amateur sleuths Frances Black and Tom Dod return to investigate a trio of deaths in a sleepy English village in the second of an intriguing new historical mystery series. Tom Dod’s Aunt Hetty is worried – three sudden deaths have occurred in the sleepy village of Durley Dean. They might seem like tragic accidents, but Aunt Hetty isn’t so sure. After all, all three took a stand against Reverend Pinder, the new vicar of St Agnes Church, whose controversial changes have divided the congregation. But is there really a killer among the parishioners? And while Fran leaps at the chance to spend a weekend at Aunt Hetty’s sleuthing with Tom, could the trip prove to be a poisoned chalice in more ways than one?

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