Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Death in Chelsea (A Mayfair 100 Murder Mystery #2)

 A Death in Chelsea is the second book in the Mayfair 100 series by Lynn Brittney. Released 10th March 2020 by Crooked Lane Books (original release in Great Britain in 2019), it's 326 pages and available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

Despite being the second book in the series, the author is adept at providing backstory information, the plot development is easy to follow, and the characters are distinct enough that it works well as a standalone. It's a fun cozy set in WW1 London with a motley crew of mostly female amateur sleuths investigating the suspicious apparent suicide death of a society gossip monger who's also a member of the minor nobility. There are suspects aplenty, the victim was widely loathed and reviled.

The plot is straightforward and easy to follow. The characterization felt slightly pandering and too archetypal to be very engaging to me (the smart and acerbic female doctor, the surprisingly intelligent salt-of-the-earth charlady from the lower classes, the patroness from the noble class, the honest copper, the special branch career investigator who secures them their cases, etc).  For readers in search of meticulously researched verisimilitude, this one will likely engender teeth gnashing. Bring a hefty suspension of disbelief. It is, at the end of the day, a diverting read with a mostly satisfying denouement, pure escapism with a good ending. Frankly that's what this reader needed at the moment, escapism.  The language content is very clean (an occasional "bloody h*ll", nothing worse. There is some dark content, drug abuse, discussion of suicide, moralistic reflection on societal attitudes about birth outside wedlock during the Edwardian/Georgian era, and such. 

Four stars for fans of historical cozies with female ensembles who aren't sticklers for period dialogue or forms of address for the nobility.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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