cover image The Lady from Burma: A Sparks and Bainbridge Mystery

The Lady from Burma: A Sparks and Bainbridge Mystery

Allison Montclair. Minotaur, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-85419-3

Montclair continues to impress in this lively fifth outing for Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge (after 2022’s The Unkept Woman), co-operators of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau in post-WWII London. At the outset, an unidentified man offers a young woman he’s just met an opportunity to cash in on a vaguely defined scheme; she agrees, and he hands her an advertisement for Sparks and Bainbridge’s services. From there, the action shifts to Sparks and Bainbridge themselves, who are fielding an unusual request: Mrs. Adela Remagen wants them to find a bride for her husband, Pitaphar, because she’s terminally ill and determined to make sure he has a partner after she dies. After getting Adela to admit she was planning to hasten her own death and to promise not to do so, Sparks and Bainbridge agree to help find Pitaphar a bride. A short time later, however, Adela is found dead from a fatal morphine dose, and the partners—worried she may have been murdered—launch an investigation. Montclair cleverly delays connecting the opening passage to the rest of the plot, effectively deepening her leads’ personal lives in the meantime. This will delight fans of Dorothy Sayers. (July)