Number four in the Lily Adler series, it is the first I have read, and I quite enjoyed it! I was looking for a nice palette cleansing non-stressful mystery, and this fit the bill beautifully. A regency era (1816) mystery starring the widow, Lily Adler. A snowstorm (according to the author’s note, based on the historical “Year Without a Summer” resulting from the eruption of Mount Tambora) forces a number of Christmas Ball attendees to stay the night. The next morning, one of the party is discovered — quite dead — in the chicken coops.
Regency manners, the impact of scandal on women, the greater (unspoken) freedoms allowed a widow over an unmarried woman and two (!) hints of lesbianism pepper a narrative surprisingly free of filler and with some Upstairs / Downstairs thrown in. Lily Adler is smart, self assured, and takes charge of cases without having to beg, look demure, or manipulate — bravo! The plot is clever, twisted, and not obvious (though I did figure it out before the end), and I liked the characters. There were tiny bits of romance tossed in, but of a more Austenian style — there are bodices but they are never, ever, ripped.
I’ll probably go back to check out volumes one to three as I am always happy to discover a nice, reliable, series.
Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on September 19th, 2023