Murder in the East End (A Below Stairs Mystery)
By: Jennifer Ashley
Publication: August 2020
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Date: August 26, 2020
In this fourth installment of the Kat Holloway series, Mrs. H. is called by her beau, Daniel McAdam, on a rainy night to meet his vicar brother, Errol Fielding. Aside from managing a parish, the dubious Mr. Fielding also holds a governor’s seat in the Foundling Hospital’s board. He asks to meet Mrs. H. about something that definitely smells foul with regards to the adoption of some children.
Mr. Fielding insists, though he is not sure, that the children are missing, contrary to the belief that they have been brought under the care of new families. This cacophony involves two young boys and one girl. Mrs. H. is appalled but it becomes more complicated when a certain Nurse Betts goes missing too.
With Mrs. H’s hectic schedule as the cook for the Bywaters and with her growing love and doubts towards Daniel, this news further rocks her world and takes more of her free time, which she would rather spend by her daughter’s side. But given the big heart that she has, Mrs. H. does not turn down the brothers’ request. How could she when the lives of innocent children are at stake? With more help coming from a few wealthy and wise friends, they unfold the mystery enveloping the Foundling Hospital’s eerie disappearances.
Jennifer Ashley’s Murder in the East End starts with great imagery, pushes through an unexpected darkness, but ends happily. The readers are welcomed to a world with vibrant scenes and curious characters. The story holds promise and it kicks off with a fast pace but it generally slows down in the middle. Interestingly complex while written with a light tone, the book is easy to digest and has a nice flow. Although Ashley is careful with her language, there are certain words that appear quite repetitively.
Even when it is set way back in the Victorian era, it’s wonderful to see the book taking a progressive stand, showing examples of feminism and diversity. Mrs. H. and Daniel’s sweet relationship may be subtle but it has an allure that makes readers cry for more.
Quill says: Murder in the East End has a beautiful mix of suspense and romance that leaves a mark long after the story ends.