A Rogue’s Company (Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery, 3)

Written by Allison Montclair
Review by K. M. Sandrick

On the advice of business partner Iris Sparks, Gwendolyn Bainbridge gets her first taste of a heavy punching bag at Macaulay’s Martial Arts Self-Defense Courses for Men and Women in Lambeth, an area of London still picking through rubble in 1946. She soon has need to test her emerging skills. First, she pummels the bag as a surrogate for her overbearing father-in-law and legal guardian, Lord Bainbridge. Second, she must try to thwart a kidnapper.

Third in the Sparks and Bainbridge mystery series, which debuted with The Right Sort of Man in 2019, A Rogue’s Company is a saucy and witty romp that carries readers from the drawing rooms and studies of Kensington to the sub rosa special guest rooms of the Livingstone Club and the factories and warehouses of Canning Town. Though proprietors of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau, Iris and Gwen are no strangers to crime. With links to Scotland Yard, former British spies, underworld figures, legitimate and not-so-legitimate businessmen, the women are resourceful and innovative investigators.

Most appealing are the characters and their histories: forthright Iris, who is haunted by memories of her wartime undercover work; damaged Gwen, who is recovering from her breakdown after her husband’s death in the war; and blustery Lord Bainbridge, who is hiding a deeply personal secret. And then there is delightful six-year-old Ronnie, Gwen’s son.

With an ear for characters’ unique lingo and language and an eye for period detail, Montclair’s Rogue is spot on.