By Allison Montclair
(337 pages, mystery, 2021)
Two women friends living in London in 1946 have become business partners. Iris Sparks (called Sparks) and Gwendolyn Bainbridge started “The Right Sort Marriage Bureau,” and it is expanding. The book begins with Sparks taking Gwen to get some self-defense training. Gwen isn’t sure about this, but is willing to try. Then Gwen’s overbearing father-in-law returns from Africa and announces that Gwen’s six-year-old son will have to go to his old boarding school, a truly horrible place. Gwen is completely against that, and her deceased husband was, too. But Lord Bainbridge is Gwen’s legal guardian. How can she fight him and regain legal custody of her son?
And the marriage bureau business is taking up lots of their time. A new client asks for their help. Gwen has seen this man acting as a servant, gardening in her neighborhood. She thinks she sees him watching their house. Is he stalking her or someone in her family? There’s a murder and a kidnapping and suddenly the costs are extremely high for Gwen. She must reason her way out, and Sparks, a loyal friend, must ask a dangerous person for help. But what will the payment for this favor be, and what will be the fallout? Gwen and Sparks are caught up in a web where lives are at stake.
This book is worth reading just for friendship and loyalty between these two very different women. But there’s also a twisty riddle to the case! And the way Gwen reasons out the truth is admirable.
This book is the third in a series, after The Right Sort of Man and A Royal Affair. But you don’t have to read them in order. I started with A Rogue’s Company, and the author filled in the background enough so it was easy to pick up. I hope you like this charming mystery!
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