The Lady from Burma by Allison Montclair (Historical Mystery)

This is book five of the historical mystery series starring Iris Sparks (with a possible dangerous past) and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge (an aristocratic war widow with a young son who is fighting for her rights in Lunacy Court!). Together they run the Right Sort Marriage Bureau in post WWII London, but they simultaneously seem to be in just the right place to solve murders, much to the chagrin (and eventual admiration) of the local police.

While this is book five in the series, it’s book one for me. I was able to keep up just fine but I do feel a lot must have happened in the previous books. I can’t tell how much progress was made in the personal situations for both women before this story — may be better to start at book one!

In this book, they get an unusual client. A woman dying of cancer comes in to line up a wife for her husband after her passing. Unfortunately, that passing happens more quickly than expected. Simultaneously, the very conservator who has been holding Mrs. Bainbridge hostage during her fight with the Lunacy Court has also turned up dead. The body count steadily increasing only seems to stimulate the interest of the two women.

The plot kept my interest, and I enjoyed learning about various procedures / processes in that (still rather unfriendly to women) time period. The writing was a little stilted for my taste, but overall I enjoyed it.

Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on July 25th, 2023

Playing it Safe by Ashley Weaver (Historical Mystery)

A light, historical, cozy with likable characters, this is just what I needed to cleanse the palate from all the dystopic SciFi I’m in the middle of.

Book two in the Electra McDonnell series taking place in England (London and Sunderland in this episode) in late 1940. Electra (Ellie) is the (young, pretty) safe cracker / thief who has turned her skill to serve King and country, working with the tough-as-nails (but also handsome with undertones of patrician) Major Ramsey. A possible Nazi counterfeiting ring, a few unnatural deaths, and a focus on bird watching pepper this episode.

Intelligent, stubborn, and delightfully non-conformist, Ellie is fun to accompany on this adventure. Major Ramsey is a bit of a stereotype, but a very enjoyable one: heroic and competent with “an aristocratic heritage underneath the military bearing.” Weaver includes just the right amount of romancy bits between the two (how could you not?) but doesn’t overdo it (need to leave something for future installments!)

My favorite part: Ellie goes to the movies in chapter one and sees “Bachelor Mother” with Ginger Rogers — one of my favorite movies and not very well-known. I got a real kick out of that. If you’ve never seen it, stream it!

Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book was just published on May 9th, 2023