The Mitford Secret: A Mitford Murders Mystery (The Mitford Murders, 6)

Image of The Mitford Secret: A Mitford Murders Mystery (The Mitford Murders, 6)
Release Date: 
January 17, 2023
Minotaur Books
Reviewed by: 

“Fellowes’ goal is to give the reader enough clues to consider who the killers are without giving away too much . . .”

It is 1941, north of London, England, and we find ourselves in the middle of World War II . . . and murder.

This is the setting of Jessica Fellowes’ new book, The Mitford Secret, the final chapter in her six-book series of the Mitford Murders Mystery Series.

As should be expected with a story set in England during the second world war, tension rises even outside of London.

It’s the Christmas holiday, and Louisa Sullivan (née Cannon) and her little daughter Maisie are invited to spend the holidays at the Mitford house, Chatsworth. Louisa, a private detective with her husband Guy, is thrilled to get away from the ongoing war challenges in London, and she happily accepts. Nothing is better than a quiet visit with a family she once worked for.

But perhaps “quiet” is not the right word. It does not take long before an unusual woman, Mrs. Hoole, arrives at the house asking for help solving a 20-year-old disappearance case. A young maid had disappeared, and Mrs. Hoole is convinced the maid was murdered. At the time, the police did not express much interest, and the case went cold.

Mrs. Hoole claims to be a psychic, and the morning after a séance where she claims to have heard from the beyond, she is found dead in her bed. Louisa’s detective curiosity ramps up a few notches, and she begins to dig into Mrs. Hoole’s background as well as that of the maid, Joan Dorries.

Foreshadowing, clues, and more red herrings than one can count begin to surface, leading Louisa around the mulberry bush. She makes assumptions about family members and household staff based on very few facts, mostly suppositions.

Of course her challenges do not sit well with the family, and with DI Tucker, the local police officer investigating Mrs. Hoole’s death.

The story is rather cloudy as it leads the reader around through a maze of wrong turns and Louisa’s questionable decisions. As Fellowes draws the reader into Louisa’s search for Joan’s and Mrs. Hoole’s killer(s), the tale becomes a bit confusing, and by the time the reader reaches the end of the story, the resolution is totally different from the original direction of the story.

Fellowes’ goal is to give the reader enough clues to consider who the killer is without giving away too much—but the ending is somewhat disappointing. No spoiler alert, the reader will have to wander through the story to the very ending and determine if it’s satisfactory.

The cast of characters is huge and at times difficult to follow. At the end of the book, Fellowes lists the characters, but doesn’t list them all—only the family members and staff. The staff are fictitious, but the family and guests were real persons, in some instances famous.