Review: Death Sits Down to Dinner

02_Death Sits Down to Dinner

Death Sits Down to Dinner (Lady Montfort Mystery #2)
by Tessa Arlen

Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Minotaur Books
Hardcover & Ebook; 320 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery

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Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.


My Thoughts

 My love for mysteries only goes back a few years. That is to say, I’m a newbie when it comes to this genre. I have Agatha Christie to thank for it. And really who better than the Queen of Mystery to introduce me to this genre. Agatha Christie is the gold standard that I’m sure many authors aspire to attain. However, reading her books has helped me understand what it is that makes a mystery a really great story. And for me, Death Sits Down to Dinner fits nicely in that category.

I had the good fortune last year to read Tessa Arlen’s first book in the Lady Montfrot Mystery series, Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman. I was immediately taken with the heroine of the novel, Lady Montfort and her housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson set in Edwardian England. So when the opportunity to read this second book came up, I jumped at it. As much as I liked the first book, I think this book is even better.

Lady Clementine Montfort attends a dinner party hosted by her friend Hermione Kingsley. The party is well attended by some of the who’s who of society—including Winston Churchill. However, after dinner a murder occurs, and, of course, Lady Montfort takes up the case. Everyone who attended the party or a member of the household staff is suspect. But Lady Montfort can’t solve this murder without the help of her reluctant housekeeper. Once she convinces Mrs. Jackson, it’s only a matter of time before the mystery starts to unravel.

“After the murder of her husband’s nephew last year, Clementine had come to the understanding that any human creature, no matter how well connected, well born, or utterly trustworthy, was capable of murder if he or she was put in a position where he believed he had no other choice.”

Try as I might, I didn’t guess the murderer until it was revealed at the end. It’s probably a good thing I’m not a detective. That’s what I really like about Tessa Arlen’s books. After all the red herrings and foreshadowing the answer was staring you in the face the whole time. The clues are so subtle that if you blink, you’ll miss them.

I really enjoyed this book: the setting, the stories, the characters. Tessa Arlen has a gift for mystery and I’m so glad she’s using it. I'm highly anticipating the third book in this series, which, unfortunately, doesn't come out until next year. 

Advance Praise

“Despite Clementine’s luxurious lifestyle, she’s got a head on her shoulders . . .and is as cagey as she is charming. A neatly crafted whodunit dripping with diamonds, titles and scandal . . .” -Kirkus Reviews

“The close, mutually respectful partnership between Clementine and Edith will remind Dorothy Sayers’s fans of the relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter, his manservant. Arlen does a good job of depicting a period when class distinctions have become blurred by new money and more-relaxed manners. The plot, which includes a slew of red herrings, builds to a startling denouement.” -Publisher’s Weekly

“VERDICT Real-life Edwardian personalities abound in this period historical, and the upstairs/downstairs focus delivers a clash of temperaments. This title is bound to appeal to fans of historicals set in this period and of such authors as Rhys Bowen and Ashley Weaver.” -Library Journal

02_Tessa ArlenAbout the Author

TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

For more information please visit Tessa Arlen's website. Read Tessa Arlen's blog at Redoubtable Edwardians. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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