When I saw Kate Parker had a new series in Pre-WWII London, I had to read the debut book. I know the author from the "must-read" Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, all of which I have reviewed here. I loved that series and couldn't wait to dig into her new series. This is my review of the first in her new series, see if it sounds like something you would like.
Copyright: Jan 2016 (JDP Press) 338 pgs
Series: 1st in Deadly Series Mysteries
Sensuality: Mild, adult themes
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy Mystery
Main Character: Olivia Dennis, recently widowed and newly employed society columnist
Setting: 1937, London England
Obtained Through: Personal purchase
From the cover: "Olivia Denis is a contented young wife with a carefree life in late 1930’s London. Then her world is shattered with the violent death of her husband, Reggie. The police want to call it a suicide and close the case, but Olivia knows Reggie couldn’t possibly have fired the fatal shot.
Further mysteries surface surrounding her husband’s death. Did [her husband], a trustworthy Foreign Office employee betray government secrets? Was his murder linked to the death of a German embassy clerk the same night? And who searched their flat?
Her desire for answers and her need to support herself cause her to break away from the pampered life she’s known and take a job. But with the much-needed paycheck as a society reporter for a newspaper comes a secret secondary assignment—one that involves her in the increasingly dangerous world of European politics as the continent slides toward war."
Olivia Dennis is refreshing, determined, and although pampered she isn't shocked by the real world. Reggie, her deceased husband, live on through the memories of others and is definitely a character "in absentia" in the story. Reggie had significant secrets he kept from everyone. Lady Abigail (Abby), her BFF, is her cheerleader encouraging her. Captain Adam Redmond, who works for Army Intelligence, is investigating a government leak that Reggie was under suspicion for, and gets involved in aiding/looking out for Olivia. Of course he is charming and good looking! They work well together and have great chemistry. Her father, an aristocrat, wants to control Olivia's life and tuck her away.
London just before WWII is a great setting with many, even in aristocracy, who were Hitler sympathizers. This book brings the tenuous political atmosphere to life with intrigue and danger lurking at high society parties and among co-workers and friends. Olivia's job at the paper comes with a condition that the paper's owner can send her on spying assignments to ferret out information at embassy parties and such about Hitler's plans. At one point she even has to do some traveling out of the country to obtain information.
The killer reveal answered questions and tied up the threads while providing a good and tense confrontation. The wrap-up sets the reader up for the next book.
This story had a few elements that reminded me of the Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn movie Charade, particularly how the wife doesn't know her deceased husband's big secrets. I have already bought the next in the series because I just couldn't stand parting from these characters for long. This book is a treat with all the ingredients perfectly mixed and balanced for a delicious adventure.
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.