Hasty Death is the second in Chesney’s new Edwardian mystery series featuring Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart. Headstrong Lady Rose, the only daughter of Lord and Lady Hadshire, prefers not to follow the life her parents have proscribed for her, namely marriage, and instead proposes that she and her maid Daisy go out and work for a living. Her parents hire Cathcart, the younger son of a baron who must work for his living as a detective, to keep Rose and Daisy out of trouble. He secures them work as typists at a bank, where they discover that large sums have been paid into dilettante Freddy Pomfret’s account. Then Pomfret is murdered. Eager to give up life as working girls in favor of solving the murder, Rose and Daisy join forces with Cathcart and Superintendent Kerridge, using Rose’s Society connections to go where the detectives cannot.
Chesney gets the period details just right, contrasting the opulence of the life into which Rose was born with the travails of the working-class life she chooses (although not for long). Although seemingly light-hearted, the book exposes women’s choices of the time: get married, be exiled to India as a failed debutante, or even go to an insane asylum should a woman voice a wish not to get married. And those are just the choices for Society women! At times Rose comes off as spoilt and insensitive, but Cathcart and Daisy are good foils for her, and I look forward to their further adventures.