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on January 28, 2013
Stonebridge Manor
Written by Peter C. Bradbury

Reviewed by R. Murry

I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but I have read enough of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels to have figured out who-done-it before the last clues were arrived at, when reading a clone. This is not one. Maybe it's because I have read so many mysteries and have good intuitive abilities. Who knows?

Mr. Bradbury's novel had me stumped until the end. He meticulously and slowly develops his characters and story for the first half of the book, bringing you into the workings of an English Manor. This is needed to hook the read; and it was written very carefully. You get to know all the characters that might have done the deed beforehand.

This killing you don't find out about until the appropriate time. However, one may guess who the victim will be, because of the person's manner of living.

Phillip, one of the main characters, is a butler in one of Lord Baldwin's houses. He is commanded, so to speak, to come to Stonebridge Manor to help in the servicing of a weekend gathering of Lady Baldwin's friends and lovers.

All is well, sex and hatred aside, until the body is found. All who are at the weekend affair are suspect, even the one who confesses to the crime.

Good police investigative work through all the kinds of well written side stories leads to a conclusion that I did not foresee.
Maybe you can pick the killer out earlier than I did by reading this character driven novel. I enjoyed the challenge.
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on July 5, 2013
*Possible Spoilers Ahead*
Finally, a story about the murder of one of those catty, conniving, evil, beautiful but brittle rich Ton witches. She is the manipulative type who demands the admiration of every man in a room and will do whatever she has to do to get it. She is known for creating misery for the protagonist and others including innocent animals who are just doing their jobs. No one including her husband and children like her. Her loyal minions, who fear her self imposed greatness, are always timid and plain and bow and scrape to her every whim. Whether a slight is real or imagined Lady Charlotte Baldwin will avenge it quickly, ruthlessly and quite shamelessly. Her lack of integrity allows her to lie without compunction. So it was no big shock when she was coldly and callously murdered for her sins. Almost everyone at the house that day had plenty of motive and opportunity. This was a delightful read. I couldn't put it down. There was so much going on with the main as well as with the secondary characters. The story does contain an interesting curve ball. Phillip, the protagonist, gets himself engaged to a whiny, needy, insecure mother of four who is the exact opposite of his nemesis Lady Baldwin. Very nicely done.
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on September 26, 2012
This book was addicting from the first page. It was easy to follow, it kept the energy flowing and was very enjoyable. Peter gives a wonderful sketch of all the characters. He's especially good at this as there were many characters, which can sometimes be confusing, but he nailed it.

The behind the scenes action was most interesting. I loved the portrayal of Lady B; villain yet still loved by some. The story is told in such a manner that once the trigger is pulled, everyone is a suspect. There is a nice balance of good and bad characters as well, and the reader gets to know each personally.

Very well told and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good old fashioned murder mystery.
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on April 26, 2013
Well written storyline, wonderfully created characters, and some twists and turns make this a fun read! This book contains something for everyone. There's love, sex, romance, adventure, and especially a murder mystery! Follow along as detectives try to figure out who killed Lady Baldwin...was it her spin-off-be ex-husband, a spurned lover, or a disgruntled staff member? With a list of suspects, all who had ample motive and opportunity to commit the murder, and only circumstantial evidence the detectives and coroner have their work cut out for them for sure. This is definitely worth reading!!
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on October 15, 2012
Who "done" it? The butler, the husband, one of the personal servants, or one of the weekend guests.

It could have been anyone who murdered Lady Baldwin....no one including the staff and even some of her friends liked her, but would they resort to murder?

Stonebridge Manor was a book about life in a British household with maids and butlers. The Lady of the house was spiteful and cruel and liked to "fool" around on her husband.

I enjoyed seeing how a household with maids and butlers is run. The main portion of the book told of the daily lives of the household and its goings on. The murder came as a surprise halfway through the book.

The book was a bit wordy and at times cumbersome, but it definitely kept my interest. If you enjoy British life and enjoy knowing how wealthy British households are run, you will enjoy the book as well.

The characters were well described and likeable....well, most of them. You can feel the propriety of the butler when he addresses his Lordship and guests, and you can feel the hatred or love each character had for each other. The author had excellent detail in the scenes, characters' feelings, character descriptions, and interactions among the characters.

The author is an actual English butler, and I am sure all of this and more goes on with the staff and the people in charge. An enjoyable read. Rating 4/5

The book was given to me by the author free of charge in return for an honest review.
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on March 23, 2013
Mr. Bradbury has provided a darn nice mystery story set in a very realistic modern day world of the rich, titled folk of Britain. Not only are the characters well defined and clear to create in one's own mind, you get attached to many of them and hope against hope that the one you love the most will not be the murderer. I won't give away the solution to the murder. Flat won't! I also thank the author for doing a fine job of tying up loose ends so I didn't turn off my new Kindle PaperWhite with regret that I would always wonder what happened to so-and-so. Some authors leave us hanging. I do hope that this author writes many more mysteries. I'll be at the head of the line to buy more!
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on June 28, 2013
Stonebridge Manor is a good murder mystery with a behind-the-scenes look at the staff of a large English estate. The characters are engaging and believable. I'd give it five stars if it weren't for the editing, especially from Chapter 33 on. Stray punctuation, misplaced commas, and the fluctuating use of "doc" and "Doc" for the pathologist Dr. McBride were noted. I did like the British feel of the novel and thoroughly enjoyed the story.
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on September 2, 2013
Peter Bradbury's debut novel is about the day-to-day life of English servants and their difficulty in maintaining a large estate while appeasing a demanding, gentry employer. Bradbury, a former British butler, tells the personal sacrifices and the daily indignities that British servants must endure in order to keep their job. This employer, Lady Baldwin, is particularly difficult to work for. She is excessive in every way, from her standard of cleanliness that the servants must abide, to her need to control everyone's personal life within the manor and outside of it. She also engages in numerous affairs to satisfy her nymphomania, which drives everyone to hate her including her children. All of the salacious details of her sexapades are shared with the reader from an over-the-shoulder point of view.

The murder, which occurs about halfway through the book is a minor plot point. Although a classic `whodunit' investigation pursues that will keep you guessing until the very end, the concentration remains on more important aspects of the character's lives. Bradbury did an exceptional job in developing rich and varied interior lives of the many characters, and peppering the story with British jargon to keep the reader rooted in time and place.

This book is a must read for an insider's peek into the life of the British elite and their servants, and a light-weight murder mystery. I look forward to reading more from Peter Bradbury.
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on August 2, 2012
I like reading a good mystery novel once in a while so I accepted to review. Boy am I glad I did. This book is very well done and I admit this is definitely a page turner. I hope this author writes more book in the future. I recommend this to all who like mystery novels
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on March 22, 2012
The possibilities of a "Who Done It" were endless! What made the pages turn for me was knowing that the characters were real people and I knew one of them!

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Peter Bradbury about his new book and he let me in on one or two of his little secrets about the characters in the story. About the "goings on" in the story line, with Lord and Lady Baldwin and all the special people in their lives that took such great care of them, including the head butler Phillip.

I'm not much of a reader but that changed when I took my first look at the cover and knew this story had some truth to it while situated in the beautiful and magnificent countryside of England!

If you enjoyed such movies and television productions such as Remains Of A Day, Gosford Park or Downton Abby this book Stonebridge Manor will give you great visual access to the landscapes, the estate setting and the personalities of the staff and the guests that make this book really fun to read!

Cheers

Cindi
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