Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen

On the morning of Lord and Lady Montforts' annual summer ball, their housekeeper, Edith Jackson, was up, washed, and almost dressed by six o' clock. ~ Opening of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman




Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman (Lady Montfort Mystery #1) by Tessa Arlen
Minotaur Books; 2015
Crime Fiction (Historical); 320 pgs

Right from the start of Tessa Arlen's Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, I was pulled into the past and across the ocean to England pre-World War I. Lady Montfort knows she must pull off the perfect summer costume ball, one that tops the ones before it. With Edith Jackson, her housekeeper, by her side, she's sure she will succeed. What she did not anticipate, however, was the murder of her nephew directly following the ball. There are plenty of people who could want him dead. He was not the most favored among her family and guests, and for good reason. When two women turn up missing from the house as well, it only adds fuel to the fire. One of the young women is a rebellious society girl while the other a fairly new servant in the house.

Mrs. Jackson knows the importance of sticking to her station and making sure those under her do as well.  She takes pride in her work and is loyal to the family she serves. When approached by her employer, Lady Montfort, to help investigate the murder, Mrs. Jackson isn't too comfortable with the idea. The countess is worried, however, about the direction the police inquiry may go and is determined to find out who the killer is on her own. Together the two women make a good team, Mrs. Jackson prying into the affairs of the servants in the house and Lady Monfort digging into the secrets of her upper class family and friends. 

The author does an excellent job of encapsulating the class differences between the servants and those of Lady Manfort, her family and the guests of the house through her characters. Everyone has their distinct roles and place in society. Even Mrs. Jackson and Lady Monfort, as they grow closer through their sleuthing, are ever aware of the differences in their stations. It leads to an awkward friendship--but a friendship nonetheless.

I enjoyed the flow of the novel. I could have raced through it to get to the end, but it felt more like the type of novel a reader wants to take his or her time reading, to take in the full experience of life in the English countryside. The historical references added a nice touch to the novel and really set up the sense of place and time. With women protesting for the right to vote, something both Mrs. Jackson and Lady Monfort aren't so sure about, the type of car Lady Monfort's son drives and a country on the cusp of war, it was easy to feel as if I was right there too.

The mystery itself was intriguing, with a few twists here and there, some predictable and others more surprising.  When I first began the novel, I would not have expected the author to take it where she did, but the more I read, the more confidence I had that the author would, in fact, allow some of the harsh realities of life back then to come to the forefront. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen, and would recommend it to those who enjoy historical mysteries. I definitely will be keeping my eye out for future books in the series.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

For more information please visit Tessa Arlen’s website. Read Tessa Arlen’s blog at Redoubtable Edwardians. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman on the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours route!



Many thanks to the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-Copy of the book provided by the publisher.


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

32 comments:

  1. I'm very intrigued with the plot as well as the historical setting. I'll definitely add this to my wishlist. Thanks for your lovely review, Wendy!

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    1. Melody - I hope you like it if you do read it, Melody! There was more to it than I expected.

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  2. I like the sound of this book. I don't read too many mysteries, but I'm always looking for a really good one. This just fits the bill.

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    1. Athira - It had a cozy feel to it in some respects and in other ways not so much. I really did enjoy it. I hope you like it if you decide to try it!

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  3. I suppose in this age of Downton Abbey, anything with type setting would seem familiar to certain extent. That being said, I am interested. The Victorian Age has long been a favorite of mine for mysteries, but I'm thinking that the Edwardian (that's right isn't it?) time afterward might be just as fun. Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

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    1. Kay - This book is often recommended as one that might be appreciated by Downton Abbey fans (which I am one of). You are right--Edwardian. I have such a hard time remembering which era is named what. :-)

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  4. The mystery does appeal to me but I'm not sure about that time period. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it!

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    1. Kathy - It was such an interesting time in history, but I do understand. I have my time periods I'm hesitant to read about or around too.

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  5. I have read this book as well, and found it very entertaining!

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  6. :) I am eager for the next one. Tessa Arlen looks to be an author to watch, and her historical detail helps us to understand how complicated social change can be.

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    1. Jenclair - Me too! I really like her writing style and attention to historical detail. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.

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  7. This sounds interesting. I didn't end up getting it because I was afraid it would be silly but it sounds like there's some depth to it and the writing is very well done. I'll definitely have to add this to my TBR!

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    1. Katherine - I didn't find it silly at all, although I do know what you mean. I was expecting something a little lighter than it turned out to be--but that was for the good of the book, I think.

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  8. Another year in which I have promised myself no more series. Much as I think I'd enjoy this in all probability I think I'll be giving it a miss.

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    1. Tracy - I don't think I could resist. I'm such a series addict. I really should focus on some of the series I'm in the middle of though rather than starting new ones.

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  9. Love the cover and a good crime mystery. I'll have to look for it.

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    1. Stacy - I hope you like it if you do decide to read it!

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  10. Ever since I started watching Downton Abbey I've become a sucker for a good
    "class differences" story - guess I'll have to add this one to the list. =)

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  11. I added this one to my TBR list as soon as I first heard you talking about it. I am looking forward to reading it myself!!! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it :)

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    1. Samantha - I look forward to seeing what else the author has in store for us. I really like the way she handled the social issues of the day, and the characters were interesting too.

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  12. Ooh I like the sound of this one, I like the cover and the premise, glad to read you enjoyed it.

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    1. Lindsay - I like the cover too. :-) I am glad I read this one!

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  13. I like the setting and the mystery aspect :) I enjoy taking my time while reading too.
    Great review post.

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    1. Naida - Sometimes a book like this is a good reminder to slow down and take everything in. Too much in my life is all rushing through it, and it can carry over in my reading.

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  14. Really enjoyed your review of this one! I love the cover of this and know I would have picked it up just on that alone but I'm glad this ended up being a good read. I love these kind of mysteries.

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    1. Iliana - Thank you! I felt the same way about the cover. I didn't even hesitate when I saw this one offered for review. I couldn't resist.

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  15. I've been finding myself more and more interested in picking up more mysteries. Adding this one to my list!

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    1. Lisa - I hope you like this one if you give it a try.

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