Death at the Crystal Palace

Jennifer Ashley. Berkley Prime Crime, $14 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-09939-1

Set in 1882, bestseller Ashley’s delightful fifth Below Stairs mystery (after 2020’s Murder in the East End) opens at London’s Crystal Palace, where Lady Covington, a wealthy widow with four grown children, seeks out Kat Holloway, a cook employed in the home of a lord, after a mutual friend introduced them at the palace earlier. Lady Covington, who feels unwell and can trust no one in her immediate family, fears she’s being poisoned and wants Kat, who has a reputation as a crime solver, to identify the culprit. Kat enlists the aid of her charming suitor, criminal investigator Daniel McAdam, who confirms that Lady Covington is indeed in danger. When Lady Covington’s daughter-in-law dies after ingesting delicacies meant for her ladyship, Inspector McGregor of Scotland Yard investigates, assisted by Kat, who uses her culinary expertise to put the pieces together before the murderer can strike again. Well-drawn supporting characters and logistical details of running a prosperous household complement the intricate plot. Downton Abbey fans will be delighted. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Bob Mecoy Literary. (July)