The Hotel Westend
ISBN: 9780996521031, Barrington House Publishing, a mystery by Ashley Lynch-Harris.
Plot: Elsie Maitland is taking a trip that she and her mystery writer sister had planned to provide a virtual experience for her, as well. Elsie is the somewhat timid, rather reserved sister, and owner of a book store while Frances is a constant adventurer whose last trip resulted in a lengthy rehabilitation. The directions she has been given with her rental car land her at the Hotel Westland, miles from her destination. Here she finds herself involved in a double murder that seems to duplicate an unusual death twenty years earlier when the hotel had been a private mansion. An interesting and most relevant factor is that a number of guests have been persuaded to come to the hotel by one or another ‘invitation’. She begins her usual copious correspondence with her sister and between them, with help from a number of locals, the mystery is solved.
Characters: Elsie, Dennis Needling, hotel manager; Paul Hulling, who sets much of the activity in motion for a shadowy Davis; Elbert Turnbull, the hotel’s only full-time resident; Norma Kemper, hotel’s not particularly efficient maid; Iradene Hartwell, 51-year-old unpleasant socialite; her sister Marian, ‘mousy’ and dominated; James Rennick, Journalist and cross-word puzzle aficionado; Richard Wellington and new bride Olivia; Reverend Pennington, visiting prelate; Dr. Linder, town physician; Amos Hartin, gardener; Mr. Reddy, town pharmacist; Doris Malford, local florist; Vesta Tidwell, town’s most prominent gossip purveyor and her husband, local fish store owner; Sargent Wilcox, town’s law; and Ted Rennick who appears very late in the story.
Discussion/Conclusion: The author has set forth a really intriguing plot. It is unusual, involved, has numerous possible perpetrators and a solution that is appealingly ‘different’. The presentation is not exactly smooth, but the pace is good, the plot intriguing and in summation, a rather enjoyable first novel that augurs well for the anticipated series.
3* Interesting first mystery with appealingly ‘different’ solution.