Murder in the East End
I love historical mysteries with a good romance thrown in. That’s why I picked up Murder in the East End to review. But I made a critical error – the historical mysteries that I love are series mysteries that build on the story and add some new information to the character development with each book. Here I jumped into book four, and while it was an enjoyable, well written tale, I think I might be selling it short because I missed out on the storyline and character development.
Murder in the East End starts with Kat Holloway, cook in a gentleman’s home and amateur sleuth, being pulled into a mystery by her friend/love interest Daniel McAdam, who introduces Kat to his “foster brother” the Reverend Errol Fielding. Fielding announces that children have gone missing from the Foundling Hospital (where he serves on the board) and asks for Daniel and Kat to quietly investigate. Kat feels compelled to help; as a single mother herself, she knows how close she was to leaving her child at the Foundling Hospital. Before Daniel and Kat get too far into the investigation, a nurse who was also searching for the children is murdered and the pressure to solve the case intensifies.
The search leads Kat through various kitchens and servants quarters taking advantage of the gossip/social scene happening below stairs all over London. This is a working class mystery – here are no ballrooms or visits to the modiste here. Some obviously well-loved characters from previous books enter the hunt and some new ones are introduced, and I liked them and the skills they bring to the search for the truth. I also really enjoyed all the cooking and food preparation talk – if you’re a fan of mystery books with a food angle, this will be right up your alley.
Kat is a very likeable heroine – a working, single mom in the Victorian era is easy to cheer for. And I loved the pieces of Daniel that we saw. What I didn’t love was all the mystery surrounding Daniel and his profession and history. It frustrated me to know so little (four books into the series) and I imagine that this would frustrate readers who have read the earlier books even more. There was some romantic movement forward in the book between Daniel and Kat but not much. I was also not bowled over by the mystery – the resolution was a little flat based on what the reader was led to believe.
Readers who have enjoyed the prior books in the A Below Stairs Mystery series will be happy to read more of Kat and Daniel’s adventures. For me, I think coming in at this late date was not the best introduction to the series because I missed out on the feeling of seeing beloved characters grow and watching the romantic tension between Kat and Daniel blossom. Lesson learned!
Note: The Below Stairs Mysteries were previously titled the Kat Holloway Mysteries.