The intrepid women of Mayfair 100 are up against a deadly and elusive enemy–and the darkest secrets of Britain’s upper crust–in the second nail-biting installment of Lynn Brittney’s Mayfair 100 mysteries.
In the dark days of World War I, an aristocrat’s suspicious suicide propels a one-of-a-kind crime-fighting team into a sordid world of blackmail, betrayal, and tragic secrets.
When the phone rings at the Mayfair 100 exchange, the news is rarely good, and this time is no exception. The Duchess of Penhere’s daughter, notorious society gossip queen Lady Adeline Treborne, has been found dead in her room in what appears to be a suicide–but her family suspects foul play.
The secret Mayfair team of amateur female detectives has been restlessly awaiting their next case, and this will prove one of their thorniest. When Dr. Caroline Allardyce performs an autopsy, she is able to conclusively prove that the woman was murdered. Lady Treborne had made many enemies through her vicious gossip column, so there’s no shortage of suspects.
Supported by a cadre of professional police officers, the Mayfair women launch their investigation, but there’s much more to this case than meets the eye. As they venture into a world that lays bare London high life at its lowest, the team soon begins to comprehend the danger at hand–and how this tangled web of treachery could ensnare anyone who gets too close.
Imagine your favorite police procedural or at least one with which you are familiar. Now imagine those detectives set in 1915 London at the height of WWI. Socially times were changing from the strict social conventions of the Victorian age to a more modern era of women’s equality – a transition that was such a break from all that people had known that it was challenging to accept.
A Death in Chelsea is set in these turbulent times and even has women detectives, a whole team of them – gasp.
My Favorite Character
I loved all the women who are part of the detective team, but the one that stood out the most is Victoria Ellingham. A trained lawyer, she is the embodiment of the women’s suffrage movement. She’s so gloriously sassy, and I loved seeing her put the male detectives in their place, rattling them with her directness.
What I Liked
Every aspect felt authentically of the times, from the language to the issues. The language does take some getting used to, as it is more like you would find in a Sherlock Holmes novel. I have read many books written in that period, but it did take me a few chapters to get reacclimated to the tone and cadence of a language that feels more stiff and formal than the current day.
I loved reading about the beginning of police forensics. These women detectives are at the forefront of the science behind solving the crime, and it is exciting to see the process behind that becoming something that is taken for granted today. Imagine trying to process evidence without the technology of today. A world without computers faces many challenges I never even conceptualized. Still, these women show how amazing they are by noticing and processing evidence that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
There are a lot of characters, but they are all so cleverly well-developed that it is never confusing. From the sassy Victoria to the empathetic Caroline and the wise Mabel – these women, as well as the other three in their group, come alive and make the story the compelling read that it is.
To Read or Not to Read
If you want to read about police work in a time where women are breaking free from the Victorian “Angel of the Hearth” mentality, then look no further. This story, though not a fast-paced, action-filled modern novel, is nonetheless a fascinating and enjoyable page-turner you won’t want to miss.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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