Synopsis from Goodreads
Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is faced with investigating the murder of an aristocrat and the man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen. As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes. Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?
This is the first book in a series known the Mayfair 100 Murder Mysteries. The story takes place in Mayfair, London, in 1915. Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for the home where the special crew of investigators base their operations. Following are my Pros and Cons:
- The author described the time period and locations well. I love historical novels in just about any genre, so I enjoyed this aspect of the book. It was a solid historical mystery.
- I definitely appreciated the focus on intelligent women and their abilities. This was a time when women were just beginning to really have the opportunity to prove their worth and competence in traditionally male roles and/or occupations. War is never good, but one thing both World Wars did do is prove to the world that not only can women step up and get things done when the men aren’t around, but they can also do it well and sometimes better!
- The story included a female doctor and a female lawyer on the investigative team. I liked that the women were strong, smart, and capable. I also liked that the men on the team were protective of the women and tried to shield them from things they felt were inappropriate, even though they knew the women were capable and knowledgeable partners on the team. We were able to see both male and female viewpoints of this changing time within this story. The men on the team weren’t protecting the women to be rude or condescending – they were legitimately trying to protect them from things they simply thought ladies shouldn’t be exposed to. In the story, one of the women even accepted that she probably shouldn’t go into a male brothel as part of the investigation and left it to the men. This was no different than the men on the team felt that the women were better suited to question other women with regard to the investigation. Was any of this right or wrong? For the time period, it was probably neither actually… it was just how it was. Men and women were both dealing with enormous changes in “how things are done” and there was obviously a lot of adjustment from both sides. I thought the author incorporated a good mix of the changes beginning (with women taking on more non-traditional roles) with long-standing old values and traditions (men had to be the protectors of women, men adjusting to working with women, etc.).
- I didn’t predict the murderer. That is a huge plus because I usually do figure it out!
- The book is actually quite complex, but I felt the story meandered a bit, particularly with the part about the bombing of London. That wasn’t really an integral part of the story (other than to introduce Rigsby’s mom and aunt) and it felt like padding to me.
- I honestly don’t know why, because I usually devour books like this, but this book took me forever to read. It was really slow and it felt like it was a bit too long. There wasn’t a lot happening at all until the last 25% or so of the book. There was a lot of sitting around, planning, and talking… but not enough action! I also felt like the author did a lot of unnecessary explaining (even for some very basic situations). It was as if the author assumed the average reader couldn’t figure out what was going on without detailed explanations. Overall, there was simply not enough murder mystery! I’m glad I ultimately finished it, but I almost lost interest a few times at the beginning.
- While I do love the pro-women aspect of the book, it felt a little preachy to me at times, which didn’t help with the meandering feeling I mentioned earlier.
- I felt like there were some plot lines that were left hanging – like the previous relationship between Victoria and Beech. It was mentioned a lot at the beginning of the book and then just seemingly forgotten. Perhaps the author is saving that for future books in the series.
This book would have easily been a 5 star book if it had been a little more succinct… not necessarily shorter, but reducing some of the explaining I mentioned, quickening the pace of the book a bit, and focusing much more on the murder mystery would have improved it greatly in my humble opinion. That said, I loved the story and I will very likely read more in this series.
Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published March 13, 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
My rating – 4 out of 5
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