Grace Under Pressure (A Manor House Mystery) by Julie Hyzy.*
The first in a new series by Julie Hyzy (author of the White House Chef Mysteries) introduces us to Grace Wheaton. As a child in Emberstowne, Grace had always loved nearby Marshfield Manor, part home, part museum.
Now, she's the assistant curator there, the job of her dreams. When a large young man causes a ruckus in the restaurant attached to the Manor, Grace is called to deal with the situation. Little does she know that his outburst is just a distraction to cover up the shooting of another staff member, the head curator.
The small police contingent of Emberstowne is overwhelmed by dealing with the murder case and other problems in the tourist town.
Grace realizes that she's the next-in-command and takes charge of the situation, dealing with police, staff and the Manor's owner, Bennett Marshfield. Marshfield recently testified in the trial of a Ponzi schemer, and she's sure the murderer mistook the curator for his employer. She enlists the private investigation agency that the Manor keeps on retainer.
The rest of the staff, older and more staid, don't look kindly on the young woman taking over and as a result many of them deliberately hinder the investigations.
Like Ollie, the protagonist of the White House Chef series, Grace is a well-drawn independent female. Other major characters in the book, like Bennett Marshfield and Grace's tenants Bruce and Scott, are more sparingly sketched, but still enough for the reader to get a taste of them, and want more.
This reader certainly is looking forward to more books in the series!
*Review copy received from the publisher.