Book of the Week: ‘Death Below Stairs’

Death Below Stairs

Jennifer Ashley

2018, 329 pages



In this charming historical mystery set in 1881, talented young Kat Holloway takes the position as cook in a wealthy Mayfair household of the Rankins. She soon stumbles upon a murder. She cooks delicious meals for the family and numerous servants, with wonderful descriptions of the recipes and ingredients. But she also tries to uncover the motive for the murder and the murderer. Some think it was a thief or tramp from outside, and others suggest Irish rebels. Kat is surprised to see Daniel McAdam at the house. McAdam is a mysterious friend of hers, who appears sometimes as a posh gentleman and other times as a stableman, and seems not to have a steady job. Kat is drawn to him, but doesn’t know his background and what he is doing in the Rankin household. Kat soon finds evidence of a plot against the Queen, and confides in McAdam.

Mix in some quirky characters – Lord Rankin’s sister-in-law who scandalously dresses as a man in breeches, and a friend of McAdam’s who is a math genius. Add a frantic railroad race to save her majesty’s life, combine these with hidden explosives and a hint of romance and you have a very satisfying creation!

I really enjoyed this feisty heroine who stands up for herself and who fights for those she loves. That she’s a fabulous cook is just icing on the cake!

Robbin BaileyConcord Public Library

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Author: Insider Staff

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