Book Review: The Curse of Arundel Hall by J. New #RBRT #Vintage Murder Mystery

The Curse of Arundel Hall is a cozy, the second in the Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. There is a lot to like about this book, but it does have its drawbacks.

Ella, following the death of her husband is given the strong suggestion by his boss, the British Home Secretary, that she forget about hIm and move away. She has decides to live on Linhay Island and take up residence in a refurbished cottage that was once a part of the Arundel Hall estate. There is a ghost living in a secret dining room that Ella discovers behind the kitchen, and she visits her friend, Harriet, the local librarian to find out more about her cottage and its history in relation to Arundel Hall. Her friend tells her a curse was placed on the hall by its first owner. Ella discovers a secret stairway from the hidden dining room to the cottage’s upper floors, and a centuries-old skeleton of a woman at the bottom of the stairs. The skeleton gives evidence she was murdered. Ella is invited to the manor hall for a celebration dinner of the engagement of the elderly owner to a much younger woman who claims to have been a stage actress. The evening takes a shocking turn when one member of the dinner party is murdered. Ella again joins forces with Scotland Yard’s Police Commissioner, her uncle, to find and catch the killer(s).

The author creates a colorful world in Linhay Island, with wonderful, well-drawn characters, and after I got into the book, I found it very entertaining. Her descriptions convey the life on an island, the charm of Ella’s cottage and the menace and gloom of Arundel Hall exceedingly well.

The main problem I encountered derives from the fact I hadn’t read the first book. I had no idea that Ella could really see ghosts and that Phantom, which I thought was her cat, was also a ghost. This was compounded by a substantial first chapter going into great detail – although beautifully written — about Ella’s childhood. I had to wait until midway through the second chapter to be introduced to the woman’s ghost. I also did not realize the era of the mystery until I took a close look at the stylish cover. More confusion derived from Ella’s traveling back and forth from the city to Linhay Island by car and train. Was there a bridge or a ferry?

Finally, the book needs the hand of a copy editor. There were a sufficient number of errors to detract from the enjoyment I derived from the book.

Now that I have become acquainted with Ella and her abilities, and despite the shortcomings, I do look forward to Ms. New’s next book in this series.

About the author:

J. New has been a voracious reader and writer all her life. She took her first foray into publishing in 2013 with An Accidental Murder, the first in her Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Originally from a small picturesque town in Yorkshire, she relocated in 2007 and currently resides with her partner and an ever-expanding family of rescue animals. She particularly loves murder mysteries set in past times, where steam trains, house staff and afternoon tea abound, and surmises she was born in the wrong era. She also has an impossible bucket list: to travel on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, shop in Diagon Alley with Sirius Black, laze around The Shire with Bilbo and Gandalf, explore Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and have Tea at the Ritz with Miss Marple.

J. New can be found at

and on her blog



13 thoughts on “Book Review: The Curse of Arundel Hall by J. New #RBRT #Vintage Murder Mystery”

  1. A gorgeous looking cover – shame about the small hiccups that could have been easily fixed, maybe she could reissue the book after a thorough edit? Lovely review!

  2. Thanks, Noelle. I’ve been reading some later books in series I hadn’t read and there are some that work well but others, I guess, require more background knowledge. The setting sounds interesting but I’m still trying to decide how I feel about cozy mysteries (of course, not all are made equal). 🙂

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