Book Review: Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer (A Jane Wunderley Mystery, 1)

Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer is a delightful Golden Age style mystery novel set in 1920s Egypt. The novel follows Jane Wunderly, a young American woman who is traveling to Egypt as a companion to her wealthy aunt, Millie. The two women are staying at the luxurious Mena House hotel near the Great Pyramids of Giza, where Jane becomes embroiled in a murder case when a fellow guest, Anna Stainton, is found dead. Jane is accused of the murder and must clear her name by investigating her fellow hotel occupants, who all seem to have something to hide.

Neubauer’s attention to detail is evident throughout the novel, with a vivid description of Egypt during the 1920s. The author has skillfully woven together historical facts with fiction to create a rich and colorful portrayal of life in Egypt during this time. The descriptions of the bustling streets, the exotic markets, and the grand hotels create a sense of time and place that immerses the reader in the story.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel is the character of Jane Wunderly. She is a strong, independent woman who defies the norms of her time. Despite her Aunt Millie’s attempts at meddling with her love life, Jane is determined to remain cool and indifferent to the dashing men who cross her path. However, her plans are disrupted when she meets the roguish banker, Mr. Redvers. Jane’s character is nuanced, and Neubauer has done an excellent job of bringing her to life on the pages.

The plot is well-paced and full of twists and turns, keeping the reader engaged until the very end. The use of multiple narrators adds depth to the story and provides insights into the different characters’ motivations and actions. The novel’s focus on the murder case and the suspects’ hidden agendas adds an extra layer of intrigue and mystery to the plot.

Neubauer’s research is evident throughout the novel, with a careful attention to the cultural and religious nuances of Egypt’s diverse population. The historical context of the story, including the British occupation of Egypt and the struggle for Egyptian independence, adds depth and richness to the narrative.

Murder at the Mena House is a must-read for fans of Golden Age style mystery novels. Neubauer’s expert storytelling, richly drawn characters, and vivid setting will transport readers to another time and place, making it a perfect escape for any armchair traveler. The novel is a testament to the strength and resilience of women and a reminder of the challenges they faced during a time of great change. You can buy a copy of Murder at the Mena House here.


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