cover image Murder in Westminster

Murder in Westminster

Vanessa Riley. Kensington, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3866-0

Set in Regency England, this lively series launch from romance author Riley (A Duke, the Spy, an Artist and a Lie) stars Abigail Carrington, the daughter of a Jamaican mother and a Scottish father. After Abigail, who has married a much older lord who spends most of his time at sea, and her cantankerous London neighbor, Stapleton Henderson, encounter each other outdoors one evening, they discover the strangled corpse of Henderson’s estranged wife slumped against the fence dividing their properties. Abigail fears her race will make her a suspect, despite her slight acquaintance with the victim, and she can’t reveal that she was on her way to a meeting of antislavery crusaders without compromising the group’s secrecy. Instead, she resolves to solve the crime. The victim’s many lovers are obvious suspects, but Abigail sees Henderson as a likely murderer, despite his attempts to persuade her otherwise. While the backstory introducing series characters sometimes feels clumsy and the modern language can be distracting, Riley offers a vibrant picture of the roles Black and mixed-race people played in Regency life. Fans of Bridgerton will enjoy this one. Agent: Sarah Elizabeth Younger, Nancy Yost Literary. (Sept.)