Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.
Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.
Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.
|Title:||Death Below Stairs|
|Series:||Kat Holloway Mysteries (Book 1)|
|Category / Genre(s):||Historical|
|Point of View:||First Person,|
|Location:||London, England (for the most part)|
|Release Date:||2nd January, 2018|
An absorbing, vibrant mystery
This book is the first book in the Kat Holloway Mystery series. The second book, Scandal Above Stairs, comes out in July 2018 although it’s not yet clear how long the series will continue after that.
I didn’t realise until I’d finished this book that it was actually the start of a series. (In fact, Kat Holloway first appeared in Ashley’s previous Soupçon of Poison – now noted as a prequel to the series.) This irked me for about 5 minutes – I was really hoping for a conclusion to the wonderful relationship between Kat and Daniel – and that shows just how wonderful this book was. I staunchly avoid books where the relationship doesn’t conclude within the pages of the first book – and if I don’t realise it until the end – I don’t go on to read the rest. The beauty with this book is that the relationship is simmers deliciously in the background while all the murder, mystery and adventure is going on. I really want to read more of Kat and Daniel – partly for the mystery and partly because I really, really, really want them to end up together!
Kat was the kind of character that I imagine is very hard to write – and get right for the reader. She’s a bit snarky, a bit standoffish and likes her life, and her kitchen, just so. And I bloody loved her. She felt so real and I could feel her emotions – especially when she was trying to keep herself at an emotional distant from Daniel. With varying degrees of success!
The book is written purely from Kat’s point of view and in first person. We get to see things as they develop and get to know how Kat is feeling and reacts to things – probably another reason there is such a connection with her. Because of this, Daniel is as mysterious to the reader as he is to Kat. I had plenty of theories as to his back story and occupation (all theories left unfulfilled) but Kat had them too. She was a smart cookie and I loved that she was a strong, independent woman when it probably wasn’t acceptable to be one. Still, I think I loved Daniel as much as Kat obviously did and I want to know so much more about him. As an aside, the book isn’t filled with sex – in fact, there are only a few kisses. But as someone who prefers a little steam in their stories, I promise you, you do not miss it.
The mystery element of the story is interesting, constantly moving and contains lots of elements that fit together – not neatly like you might think – but messily and more true to life than I expected. I didn’t guess the “answer” to the mystery/ies but then I’m happy to let the characters do all the sleuthing and guess work!
But hands-down, hand on heart, the best thing about this book is the storytelling. From the very first page I was pulled right into 1880s London and Kat’s world. The story was so rich, vibrant and absorbing – it felt so wonderful to be pulled into the world of a good story. I was actually in Kat’s kitchen (and other locations around London and the south) as if I was there and Kat was relating her story to me.
This book wasn’t what I expected but it took me by surprise in the best possible way. I’m really looking forward to the next in the series and recommend this book to you whether you’re a diehard mystery fan or, like me, you are a romance reader looking for something a little different but just as captivating. A wonderful book – 5 stars.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley has lived and traveled all over the world, and now lives in the Southwest. She writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance as Jennifer Ashley; mysteries as Ashley Gardner; and paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Allyson James.
Jennifer’s/Allyson’s/Ashley’s more than 100 novels and novellas have have been also been translated into French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Norwegian, Hungarian, Italian, Thai, Indonesian, and several other languages.
Jennifer enjoys writing and reading above all else, but her hobbies include cooking, hiking, playing flute and guitar, painting, and building miniature rooms and dollhouses.