Publication Date: April 26, 2023
Length: 230 pages
Well, the addition of the cat on the cover was the final straw to make me want to read this book....but...really, I spotted this series a couple of times being promoted on my Facebook feed as a "cross between Downton Abbey and Miss Fisher Mysteries." So I had to see for myself if that were true. There are three books out this year and a fourth due this fall that is now available for pre-order that I featured on this week's Can't Wait Wednesday.
Lord Reginald "Rex" Bankes-Fernsby is still trying to get his life together after his years in World War I and is haunted by all he witnessed. He feels adrift in life and unable to settle down. With money and his good name he knows he should have the world at his fingertips but can't figure out what he wants to do. When his seemingly confident, fellow soldier friend Freddie is murdered he is shocked and determined to figure out what happened.
His first stop is to visit Freddie's latest love interest, Theodora Laurent. He is unaware that she is a notorious spy and that they have met before. A back story for another time, "Dora" knows well who Rex is but he has no idea about her identity. He is immediately smitten by her charm and perfume, having a hard time staying focused on why he has sought her out: information about Freddie. Just when he begins to make some progress in questioning her last contact with the victim, someone takes a shot at them and they are on the run together.
For safety's sake and the investigation, Rex and Dora end up under the same roof together. As their search takes them to night clubs and warehouse docks, the two dance around their growing feelings and suspicions of each other, all the while united in their desire to catch Freddie's killer and keep his reputation intact. Will Rex find out he's met Dora before? Will Dora admit she wants him in her life after this case is solved?
I enjoyed this mystery and appreciated the way the author had us a little confused and guessing about Dora's identity and how she knows Rex already. One of my peeves with modern writers is how they spell out way too much, repeat themselves, and just generally write what I'd call more YA than adult. This book had me re-reading some paragraphs especially in the beginning to make sure I was getting the subtle hints about the two and their prior interactions. We are left hanging throughout the book as to the killer's identity and while the ending isn't a giant cliffhanger, it comes together nicely.
Rex and Dora have nice chemistry which I can see will continue into book two and at the end it is made clear that they will be working together again (I won't spoil it by giving away more!) Their banter reminds me of an old movie and it's nice to see no bad language or inappropriate contact between the characters, making this a great cozy mystery. Looking forward to reading the next one soon.