Death Below Stairs was recommended by Wendy, and when I realized that Jennifer Ashley also writes as Ashley Gardner (the author of the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, which I've enjoyed), I was in. Death Below Stairs is the first in a new series and is a bit cozier than the Captain Lacey series, but it was fun. The first book sets up characters and situations, and I expect the next installment to be even better.
Kat Holloway is a cook, and with the help of Mrs. Beeton (kind of like the Victorian Martha Stewart), Kat manages delicious meals and a tight kitchen. It was funny to see her recipes and kitchen techniques taken straight from Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery and Housekeeping Book, while dealing with a murder and a plot against the Crown.
A Soupcon of Poison is a prequel novella that gives some background on the main characters. I may get around to it later, but simply for curiosity because Death Below Stairs doesn't actually depend on it and works well enough on its own. The beginning was a little slow, but once I felt comfortable with the characters and the action picked up, I enjoyed the ride. I look forward to seeing Kat, Daniel, Lady Cynthia, and Elgin Thanos.
NetGalley/Berkley Publishing Group
Historical Mystery. Jan. 2, 2018. Print length: 313 pages.
Force of Nature by Jane Harper is the second book in the Aaron Falk series. I still haven't read The Dry and now am even more eager to.
From the book description: When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.
The missing woman is Alice Russell, who has been helping Falk and Carmen Cooper with their financial investigation of BaileyTennants accountancy firm. Falk has been pressured to get some contracts from Alice, and in turn, has pressured Alice. He is worried and feeling that he may be responsible if her disappearance has anything to do with the investigation.
The setting in the bush land of the Giralang Ranges has to be considered a character for its inhospitable terrain and connection with a serial killer from twenty years ago. But all of the characters come to life, especially the five women who get off lost in the bush, suffer accidents and loss of equipment, and whose personalities and histories begin to clash.
The story separates into two strands, the hikers in a day by day account, and the investigators whose search becomes more and more despairing. The team-building purpose of the corporate retreat falls apart; secrets and hidden grudges surface as the women struggle through the hostile setting. Even when four of the women manage to reach help, the question of what happened to Alice remains. The force of nature is two-fold--that of the natural environment and of the personal natures of the five women. Compelling reading.
Mystery/Suspense. Feb. 6, 2016. Print length: 320 pages.