Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Merry Widow Murders by Melodie Campbell is a charming mystery set on the high seas. Lady Lucy Revelstroke embarks on a ship with her best friend and maid Elfreda in tow. Lucy has reinvented herself and is proud of the woman she is today but still worries that she hasn’t left her past behind and fears that at any moment her secrets will be revealed. Now she’s enjoying a peaceful vacation with a stunning ocean view - that is until she and Elf find a body. The two come up with the drastic decision to hide the body. Their plan quickly dissolves when the body is found. With the help of Elf and their friend Tony, Lucy sets out to catch a killer and keep the past buried where it belongs.
The 1920s come to life through the brilliant and subtle way that Melodie Campbell captures the mannerisms of the era. Certain attitudes and behaviors are to be expected which are immediately set up through her overhearing a conversation about her, scrutiny by other women, and causing a scandal by traveling alone with her maid. The peaceful descriptions of the ocean, warm air, and a feeling of mild euphoria give a serene backdrop to the murder investigation. Lucy goes against the expected attitudes society has toward women at the time by being unafraid to be headstrong, curious, and bold, and doesn’t shy away from murder. Throughout the story, her past threatens to come to light from the dead body (who she fears is tied to her past) to a mysterious and charming stranger with a surprising connection.
Grief over the death of her husband is a prominent element in the story. These moments are genuine and contrast with the humor and suspense of the mystery such as how he would have approved of her traveling and always supported her friendship with Elf. Relationships are important to Lucy’s journey with her most significant being with her maid Elf who is just as daring and bold as she is. They have a great dynamic that drives the humor and helps to maintain a lighthearted tone. Campbell incorporates several escapades which include humorous attempts to hide the body and searching the ship for clues. The Merry Widow Murders is a truly delightful read with buddy sleuth antics, a beautiful setting, the roaring 20s, and headstrong women.