cover image Scandal Above Stairs

Scandal Above Stairs

Jennifer Ashley. Berkley Prime Crime, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-58553-1

In Ashley’s capable second Below Stairs mystery set in late Victorian London (after 2017’s Death Below Stairs), Lady Cynthia, the unconventional sister of cook Kat Holloway’s titled employer, asks Kat to investigate the theft of paintings from the home of Clementina, Lady Godfrey. Since Clemmie has large gambling debts, she’s the obvious suspect, but she swears she’s innocent. Meanwhile, Kat’s enigmatic friend, Daniel McAdam, is working undercover, posing as a broker at a pawnshop, to help discover the source of stolen antiques that have been appearing on the black market. Daniel disappears at the same time that an unidentified male corpse turns up at the pawnshop. Terrified for his safety, Kat begins to wonder whether the thefts of paintings and antiques might be linked, so she enlists Daniel’s brilliant friend, Elgin Thanos, to help investigate. Neither the mystery plot, which depends on major coincidences, nor Kat’s ability to juggle her demanding job and serious sleuthing feels entirely convincing, but the progress of two charming romances—between Kat and Daniel, Cynthia and Elgin—will leave readers eager for more. [em]Agent: Bob Mecoy, Bob Mecoy Literary Agency. (July) [/em]