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Friday, January 05, 2018

Smart Upstairs/Downstairs Mystery a Satisfying Delight

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Kat Holloway secures a position as cook in a fine Mayfair home, she expects to encounter the kind of drama that exists in every posh London household.  What she couldn't possibly anticipate, however, is the dead body she finds in the larder on her first full day of work.  Horrified by the brutal, senseless death of her pretty Irish assistant, Kat vows to seek justice for the young maid.  The police might think Katie Doyle was simply collateral damage in a burglary gone wrong, but the 29-year-old cook knows there's more to the story.  With the Fenian Movement in full-swing, Katie could have been killed because of her ethnicity.  Or was it a lover's quarrel between the girl and her brute of a boyfriend? 

If anyone can help Kat get to the bottom of things, it's Daniel McAdam, an enigmatic jack-of-all-trades.  Whether he's an undercover policeman, a private eye, or something less savory, she doesn't rightly know.  And yet, she trusts the charmer with the cheeky smile who makes her heart flutter every time he glances her way.  With the help of some other unlikely conspirators, the duo starts their own investigation into Katie Doyle's death.  Soon, however, they find themselves untangling a much bigger mystery, one that goes all the way to The Crown.  Can a cook and a might-be con man stop a villainous plot before it takes place?  Or will their dead bodies be the next ones stuffed into the larder?

There's so much to love about Death Below Stairs, the first book in a Victorian mystery series by Jennifer Ashley, that I'm not sure exactly where to start.  Clever and compassionate, our no-nonsense heroine makes for an engaging narrator.  The supporting cast is just as colorful, equally as compelling.  With an intelligent mystery at its core, the novel's plot chugs along at a steady pace, the upstairs/downstairs drama adding an extra layer of intrigue.  Its appealing mix of mystery, history, politics, and romance creates a winning recipe of which even Kat Holloway, the most sought-after cook in London, would be proud.  If you can't tell, I adored Death Below Stairs.  I just downloaded the prequel, A Soupçon of Poison, and am eagerly anticipating Scandal Above Stairs, the next installment in what promises to be a thoroughly
charming series.

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Death Below Stairs from the generous folks at Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House).  Thank you!


  1. Sounds like a delightful read. I like when characters are perfectly fleshed out.

    1. Me, too! I also like these characters because although you get to know them pretty well, there's still plenty to learn. Their back stories are filled in but not completely.

  2. Oh this one looks really fun. I love British shows: Upstairs, Downstairs; the Crown; and Downton Abbey so this series sounds like it's right up my alley.

    1. I've never watched Downton Abbey, but I'm sure this book is similar to the show with all its upstairs/downstairs politics.

  3. I'm hearing lots of good things about this book. Will keep it in mind.

    1. It's a good one. I think you'd like it.

  4. This one sounds right up my alley. I love upstairs/below stairs books. I'll have to add this one to my TBR. :)


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