The Secret of Bow Lane is the 6th Kat Holloway Below Stairs mystery by Jennifer Ashley. Released 2nd Aug 2022 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 336 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. (Large print library binding due out in 4th quarter 2022). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is another intricately plotted and well written historical mystery featuring clever and intrepid Mayfair cook Kat Holloway. The author is adept at showing the differences in social status and class through the well wrought and believable characters whose motivations and actions drive the story arc. Kat herself is well spoken, intelligent, honorable, and driven. She's more or less alone in the world without family support and forced to provide for herself and her daughter Grace to the best of her ability.
Although it's the 6th book in the series, it works well as a standalone, and readers coming in with this one won't feel lost. There are some spoilers for earlier books in the series, but not many, and not major ones. The book is written in first person PoV, and that took a little bit of getting used to, but wasn't intrusive after the first chapter.
The fictional action is woven around a
framework of actual history and it's done so quite seamlessly, it's not always
easy to discern where fiction shades over into reality. It was very
easy to set myself into the story and I never found my interest flagging
or felt that the narrative dragged. The denouement and resolution were
exciting and satisfying and there was a real sense of engagement on the part of Mrs. Holloway as she was trying to escape her past and get closure from the time she had spent married to a bigamous husband.
For readers who enjoy lots of romance content with their historical mysteries, there's quite a strong romantic element here. For readers who prefer little or none, it's something of which to be aware. The language is mostly clean, PG(ish), and there's no graphic sexual content (some consensual kissing).
Four and a half stars. Engaging, well written, and fun to read.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.