Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Murder in a Mayfair Kitchen

A Kat Holloway Mystery # 1
Jennifer Ashley
Berkley Books
Jan. 2, 2018

Kat Holloway is a young cook in 1880's London who, through hard work and in much adversity, has built a reputation and is in demand. She has specific requirements about time off, and since her new employer, Lord Rankin, agrees with them, she is starting a new job in his household. Her reason for the time off is unknown to him, and Kat wants to keep it that way. She has a daughter who lives with friends.  Kat is a no-nonsense young woman who takes control of her kitchen on her first day. But when she arises the next morning she discovers one of the kitchen maids bludgeoned to death. Who could have gained access to the house and killed the girl, who seemed flighty, but otherwise inoffensive? Kat needs to find out and enlists the aid of the capable, mysterious, and charming delivery man Daniel McAdam. Daniel is apparently much more than he seems, but he always is on the spot to help Kat, and he has business with Lord Rankin himself. Kat and Daniel must make their way through a stew of blackmail, financial misdeeds, and Irish terrorism to get the answers.

I had read a short story centering on Kat and Daniel, A Soupcon of Poison, quite a while ago and was looking forward to a full-length novel. The characters are fascinating and the period detail excellent, as in Ashley's other historical series, The Captain Lacey Mysteries, written under her pen name, Ashley Gardner. However, the freedom that Kat has to leave work, even to travel overnight on unspecified errands, seemed unbelievable. And I doubt that any cook, no matter how good, could get away with Kat's outspoken ways. I do enjoy the characters and have formed a connection with them. Daniel is a mystery that needs to be solved in future books. I recommend reading A Soupcon of Poison before Death Below Stairs since it lays the ground work for the series and gives insight into the characters.

Thanks to First to Read for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 3.5 Stars

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