Death Sits Down to Dinner

Death Sits Down to DinnerDeath Sits Down to Dinner by Tessa Arlen
Series: Lady Montfort Mystery
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Published by Minotaur Books on March 29, 2016
Pages: 320

 

About Death Sits Down to Dinner (from the back cover):
Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.

As soon as I read the opening line of Tessa Arlen’s Death Sits Down to Dinner, I wrapped myself up in this delightfully British & dignified-cozy mystery.  It’s not a cozy mystery, per se.  Rather, a “historical mystery”. But the mood lends itself to curling up in front of a fire with a mug of hot chocolate (I don’t drink coffee or tea…. This is my only remaining hot beverage. Oh –or spiced cider. I could go for that too.) and spending a few hours lost in this setting and these characters.

I wrapped myself up in this delightfully British & dignified-cozy mystery.

Bringing to mind Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Arlen has crafted a story that seamlessly blends the historic and the fictional.  Sir Winston Churchill treads across the page – the murder occurs at his private birthday party, after all – and a marvelous note tacked on to the end of the book satisfies the historic-curious with insight into other real-life characters who make cameo appearances.

Some of the character names quite simply deserve to be said aloud for posterity’s sake. Marigold Meriwether. Trevor Tricklebank. Miss Biggleswade. And Gilbert Vernon Wildman-Lushington.  Who, by the way, was an actual person – appointed as Churchill’s personal flying instructor in 1913.

Some of the character names quite simply deserve to be said aloud for posterity’s sake.

Speaking of actual people showing up in this novel… The mystery, the sleuthing, the characters – these all share the stage with a creatively disguised history lesson.  Don’t mistake that to mean that it’s textbook-dry.  Far from it.  But in telling the story of Lady Montcort’s latest investigation, Tessa Arlen also weaves a tale of the women’s suffrage movement at the time that made me want to do further research – my favorite aspect of a well-written historical!

The upstairs/downstairs of Downton Abbey meets the Edwardian amateur sleuth in Tessa Arlen’s Death Sits Down to Dinner.

The upstairs/downstairs of Downton Abbey meets the Edwardian amateur sleuth in Tessa Arlen’s Death Sits Down to Dinner. Sophisticated and dignified Lady Montcort once again recruits her pragmatic housekeeper Mrs. Jackson to help her solve the gruesome murder of a friend’s dinner guest. Historical tidbits, along with insights into the expected etiquette belowstairs, added to the elements that make this a wonderfully entertaining read.

Note: This is a general market disclaimer applies and contains occasional mild language.

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