Death at the Crystal Palace (A Below Stairs Mystery)

Written by Jennifer Ashley
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

In London in 1882, while attending an exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham, young cook Kat Holloway is approached by the wealthy Lady Covington, who is convinced that someone in her family is trying to kill her. Kat soon determines that the threat is real and sets about trying to help Lady Covington. Kat’s investigative co-conspirator and unofficial beau, Daniel McAdam, is busy with an inquiry of his own, and she worries he will not have time to help her. This might be for the best, as Kat fears their relationship is getting too close, too quickly. As Kat finds herself involved in both investigations, danger comes ever closer. This is the fifth book in the Below Stairs mystery series. It can be read as a standalone.

This is a multifaceted mystery that will keep the reader guessing. You will be instantly transported to the upstairs-downstairs Victorian-era setting with all its grandeur, class divisions, and prejudice. Our main character Kat Holloway, or “Mrs. Holloway,” solves mysteries on the side, but also prepares delicious meals and desserts. The descriptions of the food of the time and how to prepare it are almost as fascinating as the mysteries themselves. The characters, such as the rightfully suspicious Lady Covington, her spoiled children, and her extremely haughty lady’s maid, are all brought craftily to life and will amuse, exasperate, and infuriate you from time to time. Readers will cheer on the patient but clever Kat as she investigates, contemplates, and cooks. Jennifer Ashley’s ability to bring the food, events, and attitudes of the Victorian era to a compelling mystery will leave you spellbound and literally hungry for more. I would recommend this book to all fans of cozy historical mysteries.