Reviewed by Maria Tews
Death Sits Down to Dinner is the second book in the Lady Montfort Mystery Series. In 1913, Lady Clementine Montfort is a respectable noblewoman who discovers a passion for solving mysteries and gets a chance to make full use of her investigative talents. During Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday party (yes, most of the novel’s characters are real-life people of the day), a guest is murdered in a scene reminiscent of one of my favorite books of all time, And Then There Were None. The gentleman in question is found downstairs with a knife plunged into his heart. All the guests at the party have an alibi, and Clementine soon realizes that anyone can be the murderer (or murderess)!
Despite pleas from her husband to leave the case alone, Lady Montfort calls on the help of her trusty housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, who assisted her on a previous case to find the cruel-hearted cause of the dinner debacle.
The author, Tessa Arlen, goes to great lengths to remain true to the time period. As a result, the novel is fresh and truly authentic. The story is well-researched and all of the characters are extremely believable and likable. Even though Lady Montfort lives an affluent life, Arlen is careful not to portray her as some snooty lady but as “Clementine”–curious and quick-thinking, a woman ahead of her time but unable to “officially” become a detective because of her gender. The novel is like a Sherlock Holmes mystery with a few noticeable, and in my opinion, appreciated differences. Clementine is obviously a woman, but her “Dr. Watson”, Mrs. Jackson, is just as, if not more, vital to the investigation as she is. Neither woman have innate,”magical” investigative abilities like Sherlock Holmes, and so readers can relate to them and feel part like they are part of the investigation.
The novel reads really quickly, the accumulation of the clues happens at a pleasant pace, and the story line nicely builds-up to a surprising climax that has an interesting twist. Arlen is master of the mystery genre, and this book is the perfect combination of historical fiction blended with a detective story.
Maria Tews is a high school student in Northeastern Connecticut. Maria loves reading, writing, and a hot cup of tea.
Review copy was provided by Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.