Skip to product information
1 of 1

Anthony Slayton

A Most Efficient Murder (Ebook)

A Most Efficient Murder (Ebook)

Regular price $3.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $3.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.
When a young woman is found murdered in the Earl of Unsworth’s garden, his loyal secretary, Mr. Quayle, must uncover the truth in this "English country house mystery infused with humor, verve, and plenty of surprises." (Kirkus Reviews)

“I do not wish to disturb you, your lordship, but there is a body in the garden…”

England, 1925. No one knew who the dead woman was—not Lord Unsworth or his sister, not his niece or his nephew, nor any of His Lordship’s other increasingly distant relations—no one. Or so they claimed.

But the police soon have other ideas, impertinent, dangerous ideas, and when their suspicions dare fall on one of the family, Lord Unsworth turns to his loyal secretary, Mr. Quayle to solve the case.

Quiet, methodical, and eminently efficient, Mr. Quayle has been Lord Unsworth’s personal secretary for almost a year now, but their connection runs far deeper. Unable to protect His Lordship’s only son-and-heir during the War, Mr. Quayle is determined to find the true culprit and save Lord Unsworth’s remaining family—from themselves, if necessary.

With a cast of intriguing characters and a plot full of twists and turns, “A Most Efficient Murder” offers an intriguing blend of humor and suspense—an Agatha-Christie-style whodunit that will keep you guessing until the final page.


Or you can find it on all retailers HERE in ebook, audiobook, and paperback.


Ebooks are delivered instantly by link in your confirmation email (and as a backup, also by email from our delivery partner, Bookfunnel).


You can read the ebooks on any ereader (Amazon, Kobo, Nook), your tablet, phone, computer, and/or in the free Bookfunnel app.


Chapter 1. A Fatal Announcement

From his perch atop the highest turret, Edward Statham, the Thirteenth Earl of Unsworth could see out across his domain—from the winding gardens and rolling parks to the lakes and woodlands beyond.

Even on a night such as this, when the moon was little more than a pale sliver, and the stars were all but hidden behind the clouds, Lord Unsworth knew the shapes and shadows of his estate intimately. As well he should, for His Lordship had lived his entire life within the walls and bowers of Unsworth Castle. It was his ancestral seat, his bastion, his refuge from the bustle and vagaries of the world, now sadly invaded. No, not just invaded. Despoiled! Annexed! Overrun!

The enemy was not just at the gates but within them. Even now, Lord Unsworth could see them in his mind’s eye, that horde of increasingly tenuous relations—aunts, uncles, and cousins once, twice and thrice removed—all milling about in his parlor, dancing in his drawing room, and traipsing through his garden. 

Worst of all, though, he could hear them, as the endless murmur of their inane conversation and cloying laughter wafted up on the breeze, reaching him even here in his furthermost sanctum. And yet, as he hoarded these last precious moments of solitude, Lord Unsworth knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this invasion was his fault. 

After all, he had invited them here—every single one of them.

* * *

To be fair, it was not that Lord Unsworth despised his relatives or even truly disliked them. Despite a rather unsociable reputation, His Lordship was genuinely fond of people in his own vague, distant sort of way; the further the better.

Tonight, however, was a special occasion—several occasions, in fact. The guests, at least according to their invitations, had all been cordially invited to visit the newly renovated East Wing of the castle, painstakingly and expensively restored to its former glory and now home to the fabled Unsworth Trove, Lord Unsworth’s pride and joy—the most extensive privately-owned collection of medieval artifacts in all England. 

The party would also, it was generally understood, serve as a birthday celebration for Lord Unsworth’s niece—the Hon. Frances “Fanny” Statham—who by a lucky coincidence had turned eighteen within weeks of the renovation being completed. 

Theirs was a peculiar friendship, stretching as it did across a great gulf of time and temperament. In truth, they had very little in common. Fanny was a Bright Young Thing—outgoing where he was insular, daring where he was conservative—and from the first she had steadfastly refused to feign even the slightest interest in either of his two favorite topics of conversation: Late Medieval architecture and the long and storied history of the Unsworth Family. But amongst all his many and varied relations, Fanny was, unequivocally, Lord Unsworth’s favorite. 

Still, Lord Unsworth knew that none of that was why they had come—the horde. Word had gotten out, spreading quickly, as only gossip and poison could, and drawn them to him—his loving family—like vultures to the feast.

Few, if any, of them had even set eyes on Fanny before tonight, and fewer still gave any thought to the Trove. That was Lord Unsworth’s “Little Peculiarity,” as they called it. A harmless enough eccentricity, considering some of his predecessors’ vices, but hardly worth such a grand hoopla. It was not as if he had located a Viking hoard or a Saxon burial mound or solved the riddle of the long-lost Unsworth Diamonds. That might have been worth the effort. But no! All Lord Unsworth ever did was read through old manuscripts, catalogue his collection of trinkets, and compulsively write and rewrite his endless, unreadable book—a family history of gargantuan proportions. 

Lord Unsworth snorted. Their mistake! But, alas, his loving family had come for another reason entirely. 
Tonight was the night, they whispered to each other as they danced and ate. Tonight it would be decided.

Lord Unsworth’s Great Matter. 

* * *

A delicate cough interrupted his musing, and Lord Unsworth turned to find the butler standing unobtrusively behind him. Perkins was as grave and immaculate as ever, if a little out of breath, but there was a peculiar glint in his eyes and without knowing why, Lord Unsworth was struck by a strange sense of foreboding. 

“Forgive me, Your Lordship,” Perkins said. “I did not wish to disturb you, but there appears to be a body in the garden.”

“A body?” Lord Unsworth repeated slowly.

“Yes, Your Lordship.”

“In the garden?”

“Yes, Your Lordship.”

“Our garden?” Lord Unsworth frowned. His thoughts were, perhaps, a trifle slower and less wieldy than they had once been—especially after several glasses of wine and a rather fine single malt—but His Lordship could not help but feel as though he had missed something vital. It was a feeling which had crept up on him throughout the evening—a gnawing sense that he had overlooked something. Perhaps if he knew what it was, Lord Unsworth reflected, he might have been able to make sense of his butler’s rather odd pronouncement. 

“I’m afraid so, Your Lordship,” Perkins said. “Mr. Quayle has examined the body, but he thought it might be for the best if you had a look for yourself.”

“Mr. Quayle?” Lord Unsworth exhaled, releasing a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. 
He was relieved but not surprised to learn that his secretary had already taken charge of the situation. Mr. Quayle had only recently entered his service, following the previous secretary’s rather ignominious departure, but Quayle had already shown himself to be a trustworthy and eminently capable fellow. 

“Yes, Your Lordship. When I left, he was endeavoring to keep the rest of the guests away from…” He coughed delicately. “The young lady in question.”

“I see.”

Perkins cleared his throat. The strange glint was back in his eyes, but this time Lord Unsworth, somewhat belatedly, recognized it for what it was—dread.
“Mr. Quayle also suggested that it might be prudent for you to ring the police as soon as possible.”

“The police?”

“Yes, Your Lordship. You see, I’m rather afraid that the young woman has been murdered.”

View full details