Monday, July 5, 2021

Review: Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley

Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 5
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Mystery 
Death at the Crystal Palace cover
ISBN: 9780593099391
Release Date: July 6, 2021
EBook Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jennifer Ashley Reading Order

While attending an exhibition at the Crystal Palace, young cook Kat Holloway is approached by a woman in distress. Lady Covington is a wealthy widow convinced that her entire family is trying to kill her. Kat feels compelled to help, and she escorts the lady home to discover whether she is delusional or in true danger.

It is quickly apparent that the threat is all too real, and Kat promises aid. Her charming confidant Daniel McAdam is busy infiltrating a plot against the Crown, and she worries he will not have time to lend his sleuthing expertise. This might be for the best, as Kat fears her growing emotional entanglement with Daniel can only lead to disaster. But soon, Kat faces a more serious threat when her involvement in both investigations plunges her into peril.

Clever cook Kat Holloway is back in Death at the Crystal Palace. Every time I delve into a Below Stairs Mystery I’m ready for an interesting puzzle and intriguing characters and Jennifer Ashley did not disappoint.

While attending an exhibition at the Crystal Palace with her friends and daughter, Kat is approached by Lady Covington, wealthy widow of a railroad magnate. Lady Covington is sure she’s being poisoned and she’s convincing enough to rouse Kat’s curiosity. Kat uses her knowledge and instincts to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of Lady Covington’s household. Suspects abound and there’s a lot of legwork for Kat to do if she’s to figure out what the poison is, who is behind the poisoning, and why. Her friend Lady Cynthia Shires is on hand to help, as Kat’s usual partner in crime, Daniel McAdam, is busy with a task of his own. Kat’s expanding circle of friends fill out the world wonderfully and I adore Cynthia in particular. She plays a larger role in the story this time, especially once her parents enter the scene. It’s lovely watching her friendship with Kat deepen and I continue to root for Cynthia’s burgeoning romance with mathematician Elgin Thanos to take flight.

Speaking of romance, Kat’s own with Daniel continues to inch forward. I like the slow burn and as is common with these books, I gobbled up whatever crumbs about Daniel’s situation Ashley dropped along the way. Daniel is investigating a plot against the Crown and as much as he wants to keep that part of his life separate from Kat, there is a point at which he needs her help. Daniel and Kat’s investigations are both interesting although the personalities in the Covington case make that the more compelling storyline of the two. I loved how everything flowed seamlessly together and how each reoccurring character played their part.

Death at the Crystal Palace is the fifth Below Stairs Mystery and to enjoy the book fully you should at least have an idea of the main characters and the relationships between them. I adore the world Ashley has built and the connections that continue to deepen warm my heart. Any time spent with Kat and company is a good time and it’s because the characters Ashley has created are endearing, well-drawn, and compelling. I finished Death at the Crystal Palace satisfied with how things turned out but I cannot wait to see what mystery crosses Kat’s path next!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.