Thursday, July 30, 2020

ARC Review: Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley

Murder in the East End
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: A Below Stairs Mystery (Book 4)
Publication: Berkley (August 4, 2020)

Description: When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London's Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can't turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined.

My Thoughts: This is cook Kat Holloway's fourth adventure. In this episode, Daniel comes to her with his brother Errol Fielding because he wants her to look into a problem Errol brought him. Fielding is a vicar and a governor of a foundling hospital. A nurse he had become close to has disappeared as have a number of the children in the care of the institution.

As a mother herself and one who might have needed to surrender her daughter to a foundling hospital, Kat is eager to look into the issue of missing children. But she doesn't have a lot of time. As a cook in a gentleman's home, she spends most of her hours shopping and preparing meals. Any spare time she has is spent with her daughter who is in the care of some friends of hers.

Luckily, her mysterious friend Daniel who seems to have some connection with Scotland Yard is also interested in the case of the missing children. He isn't at all sure that his foster brother can be trusted though. Both of them had difficult childhoods in the lower classes in London and the experiences have left emotional scars on both of them.

Things become even more complicated for the various investigator Daniel and Kat have gotten involved in the search for the nurse and the missing children when the body of the nurse is discovered. She was severely beaten and left to die on the street.

Kat's investigation takes the reader to the difficult and dangerous parts of London where children are a commodity and well-connected bullies dominate. As she investigates, she learns more about Daniel's past and his current occupation. Some of the knowledge comes from a wealthy young female artist who is observing Kat and the other kitchen workers in order to create some paintings and who worked with Daniel on a criminal case in Paris.

I enjoyed this story which seemed to be quite realistic about life in the 1880s in London. Women's roles were very narrow and the class divide very deep. Kat is an intriguing character who is proud of her work as a cook and the sort of person who sees deep into other people and encourages them to be better than they think they are.

Favorite Quote:
I did hope that Miss Townsend did not make us recognizable. I could not imagine the embarrassment of appearing in a painting, no matter how innocuous that painting might be. I preferred anonymity and moving through life in a calm and peaceful manner. Much more comfortable all around.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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