5 stars, Anne-Marie Piazz, Book Review, historical, Jennifer Ashley, mystery, romance, series, Victorian England
The World of Kat Hollway
Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble often finds its way below stairs.
Below Stairs Mystery Series summary adapted from the book blurb for Death Below Stairs.
I was introduced to the Below Stairs Mystery series in 2018 when I read Death Below Stairs, the first book in a new series. The Victorian era historical mystery had a unique appeal because of its working class heroine, Kat Holloway, who solves mysteries while she whips up sauces, bakes seed cake and pours tea. Kat’s friend, Daniel McAdam, is another working class character whose mysteriousness is as appealing as it is annoying to Kat. Kat and Daniel help each other out – often – and enjoy a little very slow burning romance along the way.
The series is full of wonderful secondary characters that complement every aspect of the story. Lady Cynthia, who lives in the house where Kat works, is the eccentric, yet charming upper class cross dresser who always has Kat’s back. Daniel’s friend, Thanos, is super smart and is also awkwardly sweet on Cynthia. Daniel’s son James is the youth-nearly-a-man that wants to be like his father. With the second book, Kat takes on an assistant cook, Tess. Her rough beginnings lend her a charm that works because she devoted to Kat. Mr. Davis, the household butler is gruff, yet oddly helpful at times.
All the main and secondary characters are likable and intelligent. And of course, they all love to solve a good mystery.
The author’s attention to detail often includes mouth-watering dishes as prepared by one of the best cooks in London, along with colorful descriptions of the kaleidescope setting of London and the people that inhabit the city.
Typically, each book has an intricately woven plot that strings out details until the very end, sustaining the reader that likes to keep guessing but doesn’t really want to figure out the mystery until the very last page.
I listened to the audiobooks of books 2 and 3 (Scandal Above Stairs and Death in Kew Gardens). Anne-Marie Piazz is a fine narrator whose subtle voice changes for different characters were unaffected and perfect.
I was able to download the most recent installment, Death at the Crystal Palace, from my library’s digital collection, so check your library to save some $$$. I skipped #4, Murder in the East End, due to the unavailability of a low cost option, but I’ve put it on my TBR. Book #6, The Secret of Bow Lane, will be released in August and it is on my NetGalley review list.
A Soupcon of Poison is a series prequel and the e-book is currently free in the Past Crimes anthology.
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