cover image Murder in Drury Lane: A Lady Worthington Mystery

Murder in Drury Lane: A Lady Worthington Mystery

Vanessa Riley. Kensington, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3867-7

Bodies abound in Riley’s disappointing second Lady Worthington Mystery (after 2022’s Murder at Westminster), in which the eponymous heroine gets caught between her political principles and her desire to catch a killer. In 1806 London, Lady Abigail Worthington—daughter of a white Scottish father and a Black Jamaican mother, and wife to an absentee sea captain—spends a comforting evening at her beloved Drury Lane theater after her London townhouse is ransacked by an unknown intruder. The evening is cut short when aspiring playwright Anthony Danielson is discovered backstage skewered with a prop spear, the pages of his half-finished play strewn on the floor around his body. With the help of her neighbor, physician Stapleton Henderson, Abigail sets out to solve the murder before the scandal forces the theater to close. A moral dilemma arises when she begins to suspect the killer could be a leading figure in the fight to pass an antislavery bill through Parliament, a cause Abigail vehemently supports. It’s a promising theme, and Riley sets her sights on a pivotal, fascinating period in British history, but the proceedings suffer from slapdash execution. With a convoluted, meandering plot, and heaps of anachronistic language, this misses the mark. Agent: Sarah Elizabeth Younger, Nancy Yost Literary. (Nov.)