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Friday, August 24, 2018

Second Upstairs/Downstairs Mystery As Delightful As the First

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Scandal Above Stairs, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Death Below Stairs.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

Kat Holloway has earned herself a reputation as the best cook in London, but that's hardly her only claim to fame.  She's also become quite adept at sleuthing.  It's natural, then, for Lady Cynthia—an unconventional member of Kat's employers' household—to ask for help with a puzzling mystery.  Priceless paintings have gone missing from a baronet's home and his wife, Clementia Godfrey, stands accused of the theft.  Although Clemmie's desperate for money to pay off her gambling debts, Lady Cynthia knows her friend wouldn't stoop this low.  She begs Kat to help prove Clemmie's innocence.  

Artwork, Kat soon discovers, isn't the only thing being stolen in Mayfair.  To keep an eye on recent antiquity thefts, the always-enigmatic Daniel McAdams has stationed himself in a nearby pawnshop.  When a man is killed on the premises, Kat becomes concerned for her friend's safety.  She also needs his help, once again, because she's sure all the robberies are connected somehow.  With the help of Daniel's Greek friend, Mr. Thanos, Kat is positive they can discover the truth and clear Clemmie's name.  Even with her own neck on the line, London's best cook will not rest until she solves the case.  

It may not be the most original string of British detective stories, but nevertheless, Jennifer Ashley's Kat Holloway series is entertaining and fun.  I enjoyed the second installment, Scandal Above Stairs, just as much as the first.  With natural upstairs/downstairs tension, plus a lively mystery afoot, it tells an engaging story.  No-nonsense Kat is an understated, but alluring character, with a supporting cast that is no less intriguing.  Although the mystery at the heart of the novel isn't anything I haven't seen done a million times, I still didn't manage to guess whodunit.  All in all, then, I found Scandal Above Stairs to be a delightful, engrossing tale with plenty to keep me coming back for more.  I've thoroughly enjoyed this series so far and can't wait to see what comes next for the indomitable Kat Holloway.  


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and vague references to sex and prostitution

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Scandal Above Stairs from the generous folks at Berkley (an imprint of Penguin Random House).  Thank you!

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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain



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