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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Review - A Body In The Garden

I was interested in this new series when I read it would appeal to Tasha Alexander and Rhys Bowen fans, which I am.  I do believe the comparison is just.  Here is the first book in the new Lily Adler mystery series.

Author: Katharine Schellman

Copyright: April 2020 (Crooked Land Books) 327 pgs

Series: 1st in Lily Adler Mysteries

Sensuality: mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy, Historical Amateur Sleuth 

Main Character: Lily Adler, still grieving society widow

Setting: 1815, London England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "London 1815. Though newly-widowed Lily Adler is returning to a society that frowns on independent women, she is determined to create a meaningful life for herself even without a husband. She's no stranger to the glittering world of London's upper crust. At a ball thrown by her oldest friend, Lady Walter, she expects the scandal, gossip, and secrets. What she doesn't expect is the dead body in Lady Walter's garden.

Lily overheard the man just minutes before he was shot: young, desperate, and attempting blackmail. But she's willing to leave the matter to the local constables--until Lord Walter bribes the investigating magistrate to drop the case. Stunned and confused, Lily realizes she's the only one with the key to catching the killer.

Aided by a roguish navy captain and a mysterious heiress from the West Indies, Lily sets out to discover whether her friend's husband is mixed up in blackmail and murder. The unlikely team tries to conceal their investigation behind the whirl of London's social season, but the dead man knew secrets about people with power. Secrets that they would kill to keep hidden. Now, Lily will have to uncover the truth, before she becomes the murderer's next target."

Lily Adler was very much in love with her deceased husband, which is refreshing.  She is also smart like Sherlock, which is necessary for this case.  Captain John (Jack) Hartley was her late husband's best friend and initially feels a sense of duty to look after Lily.  He clearly cares for her after a while.  Lady Serena Walter, Lily's dear friend may not be the same girl she remembers.  Miss Ofelia Oswald of West Indies money who is being presented into society.  Lovely and smart, she helps to find the killer of her friend.  The Bow Street Runner, Mr. Page is an interesting character and I hope to see him again in future books in the series.  Jem, an industrious messenger boy who Jack pays to be his eyes and ears is delightful.

The setting runs the gamut from London society to the rough docks.  The author describes them well and you easily feel yourself there.  The plot is twisty and involves shipping and business shenanigans that gives it realism.  The pace maintained steadily throughout.

The killer confrontation was well crafted and tension filled.  I must say, I had only slightly suspected this character as the killer.  Well done.  The wrap up is absolutely perfect, loved it.

Lily Adler is a fantastic heroine in every aspect and she may be my favorite going forward.  The writing is balanced and nuanced.  Ms. Schellman incorporates diversity with Jack being half Indian (New Delhi) and Ofelia from the West Indies naturally and seamlessly.  There is humor sprinkled for light-hearted touches.  This book is a delight from beginning to end and highly recommended if you like historical cozy mysteries.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

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Mystica said...

I read this a while ago and liked it very much too.

A.F. Heart said...

It is hard to stand out in the historical cozy genre, but this one brought something fresh to the table. I'm glad you enjoyed it too. You can see how sadly behind I am in posting reviews!


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