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  • Thoroughly enjoyable mystery with great characters

    {Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for a gifted eARC in exchange for an honest review.} Kat Holloway is the cook of a wealthy household in Victorian London. The widow of a bigamous man, whose deception means that Kat doesn’t have access to a widow’s pension and makes their daughter illegitimate in the eyes of the law, she has to continue living in her employer’s home while her daughter is raised by friends. Kat has some investigative experience so, when a lady approaches her claiming that someone in her household is poisoning her, Kat accepts to help. When the lady’s daughter dies of poison soon after, is becomes clear that the woman’s fears were founded. This is the fifth novel in the Kat Holloway Mysteries, but the first one I read. The writing is perfect for someone reading out of order: enough background information is given to situate a new reader (or a reader with a faulty memory) but it doesn’t feel like an information dump. I loved the recurring characters, such as the kitchen maid who assists Kat in the house, the friendly if very proper butler, the love interest/spy Daniel, his untrustworthy vicar brother, the niece of Kat’s employer and her friends who are unconventional women for the time. The series feels lived-in, with real relationships built in and room to develop. I like when my amateur sleuths have a regular job and must balance their regular duties with their investigations, and this book is perfect in that regard. Kat has to find pretexts to absent herself from the kitchen to investigate, or plan her inquiries around her half-days off without neglecting her too short time with her daughter. The balance is very good, as are the various eccentric characters who assist in her investigation in their own ways, providing excuses for her absences, costumes, and information. The mystery itself is suitably complex, with a family whose members dislike each other and harbour various secrets, each of which could be a motive for murder. I admit that I didn’t guess the identity of the culprit, even thought all the evidence was right there on the page, obscured amid all the red herrings as it should be in a well-constructed mystery. I loved this book, the characters, and the mystery. I look forward to reading more about these characters.

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  • Death at the Crystal Palace

    I absolutely loved this book. Jennifer Ashley is a great writer. I love the characters of Kat and Daniel, James and Tess and Lady Cynthia . Looking forward to Kat and Daniel’s next adventure.

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