cover image Death Sits Down to Dinner

Death Sits Down to Dinner

Tessa Arlen. Minotaur, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-05250-6

Near the start of Arlen’s enjoyable second Edwardian mystery (after 2015’s Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman), Clementine Talbot, the Countess of Montfort, attends a birthday party at the London mansion of Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity for orphans, for Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who’s turning 39. When a servant discovers Sir Reginald Cholmondeley, Hermione’s oldest and closest friend, lying dead in the dining room, it appears Reginald suffered a heart attack. The subsequent determination of foul play leads Clementine and her trusted housekeeper, Edith Jackson, to do some amateur sleuthing. The close, mutually respectful partnership between Clementine and Edith will remind Dorothy Sayers’s fans of the relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter, his manservant. Arlen does a good job of depicting a period when class distinctions have become blurred by new money and more-relaxed manners. The plot, which includes a slew of red herrings, builds to a startling denouement. [em]Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Mar.) [/em]