Snobbery with Violence, Marion Chesney (M.C. Beaton)

Still in search of that holy grail, the perfect blend of Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie (or better, Dorothy Sayers).

I'd have to go with "brain candy" as the best description of this Edwardian period mystery. Chesney (Beaton) is a highly prolific mystery writer whose other series include Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth. The scenes are short, with a dashed-off-in-5-minutes quality to the writing; the plot starts with a series of small detective-in-action mini-mysteries, which I liked, but then devolves into the standard Clue "Manor House" mystery.

There is an odd mash up of period detail (step-by-step instructions for washing colored stockings) with characters so uninhibited they feel like banana trees in an apple orchard. Mostly, I think Chesney doesn't land on tone: whimsical, comedic piles of coincides weave throughout talk of veneral disease and brains leaking out on the rug. A fast read, and some reviewers on Good Reads do like her, but just too empty for my taste.