Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Death Below Stairs - Historical Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

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 finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  I love historical mysteries and I loved the Below Stairs aspects of this one.  

My Impression:
  The problem with reading the first book in the series right when it comes out is that now I'll have to wait a minimum of 6 months for the next one!  I want to spend more time with Kat, Daniel, James and Lady Cynthia right now!

The story is told through Kat Holloway's POV.  She's a cook, and a good one, as well as being very intelligent, kind, and a bit adventurous.   I enjoyed all the food preparation talk as well as seeing the daily routine of a big house in the Victorian era.  The stories of her training were fascinated and her struggles with what to do with her daughter are heartbreaking and I imagine not a rare occurrence for women during this time.   I think I would have enjoyed this book just for that if there had not been a mystery, a murder and a bit of adventure.

While Kat's role in the world is very clear and predictable Daniel McAdam's is just as undefined and unpredictable.  Neither she nor the reader are exactly sure just who Daniel is and what his place in society is.  However, his attraction and respect of Kat are not in question and I enjoyed watching them work together.

While I enjoyed the non-mystery part of the book quite a bit the mystery itself was well done and very interesting.  Not only is there the question of who killed the kitchen maid but there's also much discussion of the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Organization who were responsible for a number of acts of terrorism during this time period.  I enjoyed the history context as well as the more prosaic murder.

This is a page turning read with one an incredibly likeable main character, a fascinating world and delicious food descriptions.  The mystery was well done, well paced, and kept me hooked.  The next book in the Kat Holloway series will definitely be an auto-buy for me!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'll be looking for the next book and the author mentions a short story or novella prequel to this book so I'm going to go search that out.

Would I Recommend this Book?
Definitely!  I think even non-mystery readers would enjoy this book.


  1. I'm hearing really good things about this book. Though I do suspect that you might find a book or two to read while you're waiting for #2. LOL

  2. I love historical mysteries and the Below Stairs aspects too! I don't read enough of them though and this one sounds good. You're right that it can be agonizing having to wait for a sequel.

  3. This definitely looks like one I'd like, and I've seen it popping up all over now! Definitely adding this. I'm glad the mystery was done well, and the historical bits are of course a nice bonus!

  4. Goody. I have put this on the reserve at the library just yesterday. Although it is still on order but I am high up on the list!!

  5. I've been hearing a lot of good things about this one. I've read some of Ashley's more romantic reads and enjoyed them. I need to add this to my TBR. So glad you loved it, but sorry you have to wait until the 2nd one is released.

  6. Everyone seems to be loving this book! I just noticed the audio on my library's website so I may have to grab that and give it a listen. Glad you enjoyed it as much as you did.

  7. Wasn't it fun getting in on the first book? I heard about the prequel on another blog and bought it this morning. Hoping to read it this weekend.

  8. Mysteries are my favorite genre, I like the sound of this one. I’m sitting here enjoying morning coffee with you, catching up on blogs and news. It’s rainy today so no walk, more time to read!

  9. I really enjoyed this one too, Katherine. I was even better than I expected, and I had high expectations going in. I just love Kat and friends. I can't wait to read more in the series.