Jane Austen Meets Agatha Christie in Julia Seales’ A Most Agreeable Murder

Beatrice Steele is not the best example of a proper lady. For instance, she prefers the company of books to men, and spends most of her time reading about murders in the newspaper and following the adventures of her favourite detective, Sir Huxley, while she hides in her turret bedroom.

Beatrice lives in Swampshire with her parents and two younger sisters, when one day an eligible bachelor, Mr. Edmund Croaksworth, comes to town to attend the upcoming autumnal ball. The whole family hopes he will fall for Louisa, the family’s beautiful and perfect second daughter, to avoid their disgusting cousin inheriting the estate.

Mr. Croaksworth arrives at the ball with a friend, an exiled detective, and neighbours and friends all fawn over him. He is charming and seems to fall for Louisa at the ball but isn’t able to make an offer a marriage before he falls—literally to his death, on the ballroom floor. A terrible storm ravages outside the estate and no one is able to leave. Beatrice and Mr. Drake, the exiled but handsome detective, are tasked with finding the murderer, before they kill again.

Julia Seales’ A Most Agreeable Murder is a cross between Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, with a cast of silly and self-important characters who all seem to have motives for killing the extremely eligible bachelor. It took me a little while to get into this, as there’s a lot of exposition before the murder, but all of it is important, I soon realized. Mr. and Mrs. Steele are both a little ridiculous and silly, Louisa seems perfect, and Mary, the youngest, is always missing. Daniel Ashbrook is Beatrice’s best friend and potential future husband, and his sister Arabella is Louisa’s best friend but also her biggest competition. Mr. Ashbrook is a tragic widower who takes great care of his health constantly. All the characters seem like caricatures, but you quickly realize there’s more to them than meets the eye.

The plot quickly ramps up after the murder as friends and neighbours are all questioned by the crime-solving duo, Beatrice and Mr. Drake. As they interview everyone, the pair quickly realize that each person in attendance is hiding something, and that the killer is still on the loose. Beatrice is shocked to discover that those closest to her aren’t at all who they appear to be. The mystery is fun and it’s hard to guess who is telling the truth and who’s lying.

During her mystery-solving spree, Beatrice must come to terms with the fact that she doesn’t want to be a proper lady after all and instead wants to become a detective. But if she doesn’t catch the killer before they strike again, then she may be the next victim. Silly and fun, A Most Agreeable Murder will have you laughing as you flip pages, trying to figure out “whodunnit” in this comedy of manners and murder.

Ikhlas H.
Programmer & Library Assistant, Main Library

Ikhlas's favourite part of working in a library is having access to all the books her heart could desire. Her “TBR” (To Be Read) list grows every single day. Her favourite books include Harry Potter (always), Big Little Lies, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and anything by Elizabeth Lim, Mhairi McFarlane and Rebecca Ross. Ikhlas loves borrowing physical books and board games from the library, especially the latest romance titles and new games for her daughter. When she’s not working, she can be found spending time with her family, writing her own stories, reading (of course), baking and prowling Goodreads for her next great read.