Murder in the East End
Kat Holloway Mystery #4
By Jennifer Ashley
Author’s website: jenniferashley.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London’s Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can’t turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined.
Murder in the East End, the fourth mystery featuring cook Kat Holloway, is full of endearing characters and wonderful atmospheric Victorian England setting.
Always willing to help where she can, Kat agrees to do some digging when she learns from her friend Daniel that several children and a nurse have gone missing from the Foundling Hospital. Kat is surprised to meet Daniel’s “brother” Errol Fielding who is now a vicar, a member of the hospital’s board, and acquainted with Nurse Betts. Have the children been adopted as the hospital records indicate? Kat sure hopes so but fears the worst when Daniel finds Betts’ body in the morgue. Together with her friends in both low and high places, she sets out to get to the bottom of things.
I am a big historical mystery fan, and the characters in this series keep me coming back for more. Unlike so many of my other favorite series where amateur sleuths are aristocratic, this has a uniquely “downstairs” take; it’s a refreshing change of pace. Kat is plucky, wise, and bighearted. Her friend Daniel remains an enigma though readers do learn quite a bit more about his past in this installment. His relationship with Fielding, and how he deals with him throughout the book, is telling. Daniel may have a checkered past, but he is a good man. He and Kathy’s romance, which moves along at a glacial pace, does progress a bit here just not to my satisfaction. I am not sure how I feel about Fielding. He is obviously not reformed so it bothers me that he is a vicar, but I also think he is far too “hot headed” to be an effective conman. If he appears in future books, I hope he grows on me. Kat’s friends and coworkers are all represented here, and they always add variety and entertainment value.
Murder in the East End does touch on some disturbing topics concerning the plight of many of the orphaned and painfully poor children of Victorian London, but it is handled tactfully without glossing over it. The mystery is engaging, and the pace of the story is just right, but the ending completely fell flat. I still enjoyed the book just not as much as the previous installments, and the series still holds a place on my “must-read” list. Recommended to fans of historical mysteries, especially those set in the Victorian era.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*