cover image Death Below Stairs

Death Below Stairs

Jennifer Ashley. Berkley Prime Crime, $15 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-58551-7

Set in 1881, this exceptional series launch from Ashley (the Shifters Unbound series) introduces Kat Holloway, a brilliant cook employed in the lavish London home of Lord Rankin. The cast of distinctive, well-drawn characters includes Lady Cynthia, Lord Rankin’s cross-dressing sister, who embodies the plight of Victorian women forced into lives that don’t fit them; Daniel McAdam, a charming, secretive delivery man who helped Kat in a time of great need before she joined Lord Rankin’s household; and James, Daniel’s sweet, fiercely independent 15-year-old son. Kat and Daniel, aided by James and Lady Cynthia, investigate the murder of a young servant, battle Fenians, and race to thwart an act of terrorism. Meanwhile, Kat, a single mother, must deal with the possible loss of her 10-year-old daughter, who lives with a couple who now propose to adopt the girl. Kat’s displays of her knowledge of food and preparation techniques add to the story’s appeal. Readers will look forward to this fascinating lead’s further adventures. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Bob Mecoy Literary Agency. (Jan.)