Thursday, December 28, 2017

ARC Review: Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: A Below Stairs Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Berkley (January 2, 2018)

Description: Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

My Thoughts: Kat Holloway is a young woman who is a cook. She has worked for a number of homes in Mayfair. Now she has accepted employment in the house of Lord Rankin, a prominent financier and his wife. Also in the household is his sister-in-law Lady Cynthia who enjoys dressing like a man.

She is only in the household one day when she steps into her larder and finds her cook's assistant Sinead beaten to death. Kat immediately contacts her mysterious friend Daniel McAdam who can mingle with all layers of society and who helped her with an earlier problem.

Daniel confesses to her that Lord Rankin's household was already under suspicion. He might be investing for the Fenians who are trying for a free Ireland and using terroristic attacks to advance their cause. A mysterious scrap of paper found near Sinead leads Kat, Daniel, Lady Cynthia, and others on a wild chase to protect Queen Victoria.

Kat tells the story in the first person and we gradually learn some of her secrets including that she was once married to an abusing bigamist and has a ten-year-old daughter living with friends. We also learn that Kat is quite curious both about what is going on in Lord Rankin's home and about her friend Daniel McAdam. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and notable common sense.

Daniel is a wonderful hero too. He is some sort of investigator but says he isn't with the police. He is protective both of Kat and his teenage son James. He has contacts all over London and can transform himself into anything from a man-of-all-work to a dapper middle class gentleman. I really want to know who he's working for.

I like the growing relationship between the practical Kat and the secretive Daniel. It is a romance though between two people who both have secrets to keep. The mystery was engaging and action-packed.

I felt when I began this one that I had missed a previous book which detailed how Daniel and Kat met. There were quite a few references to something that had happened earlier between them. The Aurhot's Note at the back says there is a short story A Soupcon of Poison that does give this information and can't wait to read it. I also can't wait to read more books about Kat and Daniel.

Favorite Quote:
I knew that letting a man like Daniel into my life, more than I already had, would be the height of foolishness. I was still angry with him for his deception, not that my disapprobation had dampened his enthusiasm or his smiles. His smiles made him all the more dangerous.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.


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