Monday, March 28, 2016

Death Sits Down to Dinner Review



Death Sits Down to Dinner (Lady Montfort Mystery #2)
by Tessa Arlen

Publication Date: March 29, 2016 
Minotaur Books Hardcover & Ebook; 320 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Mystery

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02_Death Sits Down to Dinner

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 Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.
 Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday.
Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.
 Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event.
Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.  



Advance Praise

“Despite Clementine’s luxurious lifestyle, she’s got a head on her shoulders . . .and is as cagey as she is charming. A neatly crafted whodunit dripping with diamonds, titles and scandal . . .” -Kirkus Reviews

 “The close, mutually respectful partnership between Clementine and Edith will remind Dorothy Sayers’s fans of the relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter, his manservant. Arlen does a good job of depicting a period when class distinctions have become blurred by new money and more-relaxed manners. The plot, which includes a slew of red herrings, builds to a startling denouement.” -Publisher’s Weekly

 “VERDICT Real-life Edwardian personalities abound in this period historical, and the upstairs/downstairs focus delivers a clash of temperaments. This title is bound to appeal to fans of historicals set in this period and of such authors as Rhys Bowen and Ashley Weaver.” -Library Journal  

About the Author

02_Tessa Arlen

TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job.
She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.
 For more information please visit Tessa Arlen's website.
Read Tessa Arlen's blog at Redoubtable Edwardians.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
  Subscribe to Tessa Arlen's Newsletter.

I recommend this book to the new generation of Downtown Abbey fans, to those who read the wonderful, classic mystery series that become Public Television favorites, and to those with a questioning mind who appreciate the nuances of history which add depth and quality to the reading experience.

Set in the Edwardian era, that fabulously exciting era of history on the brink of extreme change.
Impending war, with new technologies to consider. Established ways and households realizing their time is running out. Women expressing themselves more noticeably and much louder. 
Still, the established rules and customs not giving way without struggle.

The story sets the scene by explaining who the dinner guests are and the relationships between them. While the initial dinner celebrates a well known guest of honor, that is not to say he is respected and admired by all. After the murder is discovered, the reader also learns much about the times and proper ways, much about each individual person by how they respond and carry on.
The fact that the women who investigate are from different segments of society also speaks volumes.

This book is easily read as a stand alone. I also consider it one of those wonderful novels that should be reread to catch the embedded clues and will be as exciting as the first read. 
The additional information the author offers regarding actual persons of this era encourage me to delve deeper into the history of those times.

I was given a print copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I look forward to reading more about these collaborative sleuths.

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