Tuesday, June 29, 2021

ARC Review: Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley

Death at the Crystal Palace

Jennifer Ashley
Series: A Below Stairs Mystery (Book 5)
Publication: Berkley (July 6, 2021)

Description: Intrepid cook Kat Holloway puts aside her apron to delve into Victorian London’s high society and catch a killer in this thrilling new mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Murder in the East End.

While attending an exhibition at the Crystal Palace, young cook Kat Holloway is approached by a woman in distress. Lady Covington is a wealthy widow convinced that her entire family is trying to kill her. Kat feels compelled to help. So, she escorts the lady home to discover whether she is delusional or in true danger.

When it quickly becomes apparent that the threat is all too real, Kat promises aid. Her charming confidant Daniel McAdam is busy infiltrating a plot against the Crown, and she worries he will not have time to lend his sleuthing expertise. This might be for the best, as Kat fears her growing emotional entanglement with Daniel can only lead to disaster. But soon, Kat faces a more serious threat when her involvement in both investigations plunges her into peril.

My Thoughts: Cook Kat Holloway is developing a reputation for problem solving among a certain set in 1882 London. Still, she is surprised when Lady Covington approaches her while she is at the Crystal Palace with her daughter and some friends. Lady Covington believes that she is being poisoned.

Lady Covington asks for Kat's assistance in finding out who wants her dead. Kat uses the excuse of providing a recipe for a lemon cake to Lady Covington's cook to visit and find out more. It turns out the Lady Covington is a wealthy woman who has financial control over her stepson and stepdaughter and her own son and daughter. She inherited money and shares in a railroad company both from her husband who died in a railroad accident and her second husband. 

Kat asks her friend Daniel McAdam for some advice but he is currently undercover investigating an English Duke who might be giving money to Irish nationalists. Those nationalists have committed some brutal murders and Daniel's boss wants answers.

As Kat investigates, she learns that all of Lady Covington's children and stepchildren could have reasons to want her out of the way. They also all have secrets. Then Lady Covington's stepdaughter eats some of a basket prepared for Lady Covington and dies. Kat briefly wonders if the stepdaughter was the intended victim.

Meanwhile, Daniel asks Kat to help with his investigation too. And Kat's friend Lady Cynthia's parents have come to London to take her back to the country with them or to marry her off. Lady Cynthia's father who is something of a confidence man gets involved in Daniel's investigation when he tries to scam the Duke Daniel is investigating.

The story was interesting and fast-paced. The mystery was also intriguing and played to Kat's strengths as a cook. I liked the period detail and Kat's awareness of the class differences that pervade the society where she lives. I like that Kat is proud of her abilities as a cook and confident in herself. 

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy Kat's latest adventure.

Favorite Quote:
I was the same person, and yet in this dress and hat with a young man to handle the tickets for me, I suddenly deserved the conductor's politeness. It made me think. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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