Thursday, May 30, 2019

ARC Review: Death in Kew Gardens by Jennifer Ashley

Death in Kew Gardens 
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: A Below Stairs Mystery (Book 3)
Publication: Berkley (June 4, 2019)

Description: Kat Holloway steps out from beneath the stairs and into international intrigue, where murder and stolen treasure lurk among the upper echelons of Victorian London.

In return for a random act of kindness, scholar Li Bai Chang presents young cook Kat Holloway with a rare and precious gift—a box of tea. Kat thinks no more of her unusual visitor until two days later when the kitchen erupts with the news that Lady Cynthia's next-door neighbor has been murdered.

Known about London as an "Old China Hand," the victim claimed to be an expert in the language and customs of China, acting as intermediary for merchants and government officials. But Sir Jacob's dealings were not what they seemed, and when the authorities accuse Mr. Li of the crime, Kat and Daniel find themselves embroiled in a world of deadly secrets that reach from the gilded homes of Mayfair to the beautiful wonder of Kew Gardens.

My Thoughts: This third Below Stairs mystery has Kat Holloway looking into the death of her next door neighbor Sir Jacob Harkness. She quickly finds herself deep into the case when a Chinese man that she recently met is accused of the crime.

Kat met Li Bai Chang when she literally ran into him on the street. She meets him again outside her home in Mayfair when he presents her with a gift of very fine Chinese tea. Sir Jacob was a well known China Hand who gained all sorts of riches in his many trips to China. His home is packed with all the goods he gathered and Kew Gardens has been the recipient of many, many strange and wonderful plants that he gathered on his journeys.

Mr. Li has come to speak to him to get back something precious that Sir Jacob stole from his family which would seem to give him a motive for murder. Kat is certain that he is not guilty and needs to convince Daniel MacAdam of her opinion. Daniel is a man of mystery still but Kat does know that he has influence on the police which is strange for a man whose accent and occupation seems so changeable.

Meanwhile at home, Kat and the rest of the staff are dealing with a new housekeeper who is stealing things and digging for secrets to blackmail all of them. She quickly ferrets out the existence of Kat's greatest secret - her daughter Grace. Kat's past as the supposed wife of a bigamist has colored her trust in men and could destroy her new respectable life if her employers learn of it.

I loved the descriptions of Kew Gardens. I also loved the interesting characters that surround Kat - Lady Cynthia, who wants the freedom men have and dresses in masculine attire; the mysterious Daniel; Mr. Thanos who is Daniel's friend and a scholar of some note and falling for Lady Cynthia; Tess, who is Kat's kitchen assistant and a girl from the street who has potential as a cook. Most of all I like Kat who is proud of her role as a cook and happy with her place in society even if, I feel, her role might not be a great fit for her intelligence and acuity.

I can't wait for Kat's next adventure.

Favorite Quote:
I felt a twinge of guilt at my morbidity, but I assuaged it by telling myself I could possibly help find the killer and make him pay for what he'd done. Sir Jacob, from what little I knew of him, had been pompous and boasted a bit too much about his adventures in China, but he no more deserved to die than if he'd been saintly and silent.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.


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