Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #1)
Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered. Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #1) Details

TitleDeath Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 2nd, 2018
PublisherBerkley Books
ISBN-139780399585517
Rating
GenreMystery, Historical, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Fiction, Romance

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #1) Review

  • Lindsay - Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars. This book started off much stronger than it finished.I had an instant connection to this novel. I immediately loved the characters and found myself captivated by the Victorian mansion household and how it was run. It had such a “Downton Abbey” feel to it that I couldn’t help but love it. Unfortunately, my connection was short lived, as the plausibility of the story became highly unrealistic once the crime was committed (about 1/3 of the way in). The novel revolves around a cook of a h 2.5 stars. This book started off much stronger than it finished.I had an instant connection to this novel. I immediately loved the characters and found myself captivated by the Victorian mansion household and how it was run. It had such a “Downton Abbey” feel to it that I couldn’t help but love it. Unfortunately, my connection was short lived, as the plausibility of the story became highly unrealistic once the crime was committed (about 1/3 of the way in). The novel revolves around a cook of a high power household investigating a murder. How could a head cook of such a household have time to run around town on a daily basis investigating a crime? It just didn’t make sense to me. I really liked the cook’s character and enjoyed her dealings with the house staff and family, but I lost interest in the crime solving side of the book which was the main storyline. The author, Jennifer Ashley, did a fantastic job creating the Victorian atmosphere and characters. The storyline simply didn’t work for me.This was a Traveling Sister Read with Brenda, Diane and Holly. We each felt similarly on this one, with one of us not even being able to finish. As always, it was a pleasure reading with these lovely ladies!A big thank you to Edelweiss, Berkley Books and Jennifer Ashley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!Expected Date of Publication: January 2, 2018.
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  • Melisa
    January 1, 1970
    This is a historical mystery which shows a great deal of research and thoroughness from the author. It is less of a whodunnit and more of a slow moving, character driven suspense. I especially enjoyed the delicious and lush imagery of the cook’s recipes and cooking and my mouth was watering the whole time I read. I found myself to be slightly confused while reading - it reads like a sequel, but it is the first book in an upcoming series. There were certain plot points that I felt as if I’d misse This is a historical mystery which shows a great deal of research and thoroughness from the author. It is less of a whodunnit and more of a slow moving, character driven suspense. I especially enjoyed the delicious and lush imagery of the cook’s recipes and cooking and my mouth was watering the whole time I read. I found myself to be slightly confused while reading - it reads like a sequel, but it is the first book in an upcoming series. There were certain plot points that I felt as if I’d missed or didn’t fully grasp. So I went through they whole book a bit confused, then learned in the afterword that the author had previously written a novella prequel to this story. So. For someone like me who enjoys reading series from the very beginning to understand the character development and full picture, this kind of threw me off. Not to say that it can’t be read as a stand alone, but if you feel the same as me, you may want to pick up the prequel first. It was also frustrating not to learn the true identity of one of the main characters throughout the entire book - it ended a bit abruptly, and I feel it was a major plot point that was glossed over and would have really engaged the reader into picking up the next book in the series. Thank you to Netgalley, Berkley and Jennifer Ashley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 Oh dear, well...........I usually love Victorian mysteries. Liked that Kit was a cook in a wealthy household, upstairs, downstairs kind of scenario. When her young assistant cook is found dead in the larder, Kit tries to find out the who and why.My favorite parts were the food description and learning about the inner workings of a largish household. This was such a scattered plot, too much happening, to much running here and there. A new job one she needs, and she has all this time to chase 2.5 Oh dear, well...........I usually love Victorian mysteries. Liked that Kit was a cook in a wealthy household, upstairs, downstairs kind of scenario. When her young assistant cook is found dead in the larder, Kit tries to find out the who and why.My favorite parts were the food description and learning about the inner workings of a largish household. This was such a scattered plot, too much happening, to much running here and there. A new job one she needs, and she has all this time to chase someone here, to just leave to investigate? Just didn't hold together. The premise and setting were enticing but I found the execution lacking.A sisters read where once again we were in agreement. ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth
    January 1, 1970
    ✮✮✮ 4.5 STARS ✮✮✮Review @ Vanilla & Spice Books Jennifer Ashley is one of my favorite HR authors and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is one of my top three all time favorites. Under her pen name Ashley Gardner she writes a similar series like this one, Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries.Heads up right away: this isn't romance although it does have romantic elements and I'm pretty confident that those will become more significant in later installments. It is a historical mystery, set in the ✮✮✮ 4.5 STARS ✮✮✮Review @ Vanilla & Spice Books Jennifer Ashley is one of my favorite HR authors and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is one of my top three all time favorites. Under her pen name Ashley Gardner she writes a similar series like this one, Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries.Heads up right away: this isn't romance although it does have romantic elements and I'm pretty confident that those will become more significant in later installments. It is a historical mystery, set in the late 19th century.In DEATH BELOW STAIRS we are introduced to the main protagonists, Kat Holloway, a cook, starting her new employ and the mysterious Daniel McAdam. If you want to know how they meet try Ms. Ashley's novella A Soupçon of Poison that starts off the series. It's also a nice way to become acquainted with her writing style.The political atmosphere is tense in the Victorian age, Fenians are up to no good and one of their devious plans is to kill the queen. The author catches the mood quite well - it's obvious that she has done her research!Kat is a very likable heroine, with a clever head on her shoulders, a no-nonsense attitude, keeping Daniel a bit at arm's length, because the man has so many different faces and plays so many roles that she doesn't know who the real Daniel is. What she is keenly aware of though is that he is a good man. She can't deny their attraction although she keeps trying but you know, you KNOW it's all just bluster.   What I do know, Daniel, is what you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a gent in a posh suit who can purchase first-class railway tickets on the spur of the moment, or a deliveryman who talks like a South London villain. I’ve seen you.”  I can't remember a single hero in Ms. Ashley's book that I didn't adore and Daniel is no exception. He doesn't hide his affection for Kat, there is no doubt that he is hers but it's just not the right time. Daniel is entirely endearing, protective of Kat and his son and always looking out for them. He is charming, a little sweet-talker but I'm sure that there is a darker side to him. Uncovering his secrets will be interesting and I can't wait to meet the real Daniel McAdam.  He was studying me with a look I’d caught on my own face during a visit to someone I was deeply fond of. There was caring in that look, and worry, and gentle wonder.  The mystery is well executed and to unravel it Kat and Daniel are supported by two phenomenal sidekicks: a trousers-wearing lady and a mathematical genius, both of them wonderful in their own way. One more unusual thing is that the main characters are working class, or at least Kat is. Daniel the chameleon feels comfortable in any role he chooses. “I believe I adore you, Kat.”   Admittedly, the story starts out a bit slow but I think it's because introduction needs to be made and the plot has to be set up. It's in no way frustratingly slow though and it picks up soon enough. Yes, there are a lot of details you have to work through, I never felt that it was overwhelming though.Death Below Stairs is a gem and knowing Jennifer Ashley this series will only get better with each installment. I am looking forward to discovering more about Kat and Daniel. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey mixed with a classic whodunit mystery pick this up!
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  • Holly B
    January 1, 1970
    2.5This book didn't work for me. It is a cozy/mystery with a Victorian setting with a mansion fully staffed with cooks, servants, footman, butlers, etc. I liked learning about them as well as Lord Rankin and his family that owned the house. I liked the cook, Kat Holloway and found her character interesting, but when she began running around investigating crimes, and looking for suspects, the story took a downward spiral! Obviously, she would not have time on her hands for all the shenanigans tha 2.5This book didn't work for me. It is a cozy/mystery with a Victorian setting with a mansion fully staffed with cooks, servants, footman, butlers, etc. I liked learning about them as well as Lord Rankin and his family that owned the house. I liked the cook, Kat Holloway and found her character interesting, but when she began running around investigating crimes, and looking for suspects, the story took a downward spiral! Obviously, she would not have time on her hands for all the shenanigans that were going on. I have seen many favorable reviews and if you enjoy cozies that are adventurous in their plot, you may enjoy this one as well!Enjoyed reading with Traveling Sisters Reading Group!Thanks to Edelweiss for my advanced arc in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Suzanne Leopold
    January 1, 1970
    Kat Holloway is employed as the head cook for Lord Rankin in London. She finds the family members to be a bit odd with Lord Rankin spending his time involved in secretive financial matters. His wife rarely leaves her bed and appears to be depressed. His eccentric unmarried sister in law also lives with them and enjoys dressing in men’s clothing. Kat accepts her employer's faults and continues to excel at her job. When she gets a day off, she travels to visit her young daughter. One day Kat’s ass Kat Holloway is employed as the head cook for Lord Rankin in London. She finds the family members to be a bit odd with Lord Rankin spending his time involved in secretive financial matters. His wife rarely leaves her bed and appears to be depressed. His eccentric unmarried sister in law also lives with them and enjoys dressing in men’s clothing. Kat accepts her employer's faults and continues to excel at her job. When she gets a day off, she travels to visit her young daughter. One day Kat’s assistant is found murdered at the estate. The reaction from her employers seems peculiar and Kat sets out to understand what really happened.This book is a mystery filled with interesting characters and suspense. Scandal Above Stairs, book two in this series, is set to be released in July 2018.
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    I really miss Downton Abbey. So when I saw the description of this book, I jumped right on it! I loved all the descriptions of the workings of Lord Rankin's household....the meals, the running of a large house, the different servants and the family members, and all the Victorian trappings. Add a murder mystery and treason to the mix, and it's a very suspenseful and fun romp. The basics: Kat Holloway is hired as a cook in Lord Rankin's household. Things seem a bit strange, but she's so happy to h I really miss Downton Abbey. So when I saw the description of this book, I jumped right on it! I loved all the descriptions of the workings of Lord Rankin's household....the meals, the running of a large house, the different servants and the family members, and all the Victorian trappings. Add a murder mystery and treason to the mix, and it's a very suspenseful and fun romp. The basics: Kat Holloway is hired as a cook in Lord Rankin's household. Things seem a bit strange, but she's so happy to have the position that she doesn't care. When her assistant is found murdered in the pantry, it's time to do some investigation and find out who killed the Irish kitchen maid. She gets help from a friend, Daniel McAdams -- who is much more than he appears to be. I was a bit astounded that a cook in such a large house would have the time to run around investigating as much as Kat did.....but I'm happy to suspend reality for such a fun mystery!I love the cover art for this book!This is an awesome start to a new series! A second book, Scandal Above the Stairs, is coming out in June. I will definitely be reading more!**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Jennifer Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    The first book in the new Kat Holloway Victorian mysteries. Pub date January 2018, with book 2 to follow closely behind it! The novella, Soupcon of Poison, I am now calling a "prequel," and letting the first full-length book (Death Below Stairs) be Book 1. Author name for this series is now Jennifer Ashley (was Ashley Gardner, but publisher wanted JA).
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    I had a strong connection to this story from the start. It had a classic murder mystery feel but based in a "Downtown Abbey" flair. The pace was quick and engaging but then it stalled. Pushing on, I'm happy to say that it came back once again strong, providing a white-knuckle reading straight through the conclusion.I received this ARC copy of Death Below Stairs from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Death Below Stairs is set for publication Jan. 2, 2018.My Rating: I had a strong connection to this story from the start. It had a classic murder mystery feel but based in a "Downtown Abbey" flair. The pace was quick and engaging but then it stalled. Pushing on, I'm happy to say that it came back once again strong, providing a white-knuckle reading straight through the conclusion.I received this ARC copy of Death Below Stairs from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Death Below Stairs is set for publication Jan. 2, 2018.My Rating: 4 starsWritten by: Jennifer AshleySeries: A Below Stairs Mystery (Book 1)Paperback: 336 pagesPublisher: Berkley Publication Date: January 2, 2018ISBN-10: 0399585516ISBN-13: 978-0399585517Genre: Historical MysteryAmazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Below-St...Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/deat...Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deat...Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com
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  • Caz
    January 1, 1970
    I've given this a B- at AAR, so that's 3.5 stars rounded upJennifer Ashley is the author of a number of very popular historical romances about the various members of the MacKenzie family as well as of the Captain Lacey series of historical mysteries, which she publishes as Ashley Gardner.  I confess that I haven’t read any of the Captain’s regency-set adventures, but as I enjoy historical mysteries, I was intrigued to see that Ms. Ashley is launching a new series set in Victorian England and t I've given this a B- at AAR, so that's 3.5 stars rounded upJennifer Ashley is the author of a number of very popular historical romances about the various members of the MacKenzie family as well as of the Captain Lacey series of historical mysteries, which she publishes as Ashley Gardner.  I confess that I haven’t read any of the Captain’s regency-set adventures, but as I enjoy historical mysteries, I was intrigued to see that Ms. Ashley is launching a new series set in Victorian England and that her heroine is a no-nonsense, twenty-nine year-old cook who is employed in some of London’s grandest households.Death Below Stairs is actually the second book to feature Kat Holloway, as the author published a prequel novella (A Soupçon of Poison) a couple of years ago which introduces Kat and her friend/love-interest,  the mysterious Daniel McAdam, who helps Kat out of a potentially deadly situation and assists her in her sleuthing efforts. It’s not absolutely necessary to read this story, as its storyline is completely separate from this novel, BUT it is a very useful introduction to the characters – to Daniel, especially – who is not at all what he seems.  The novella also establishes the relationships between Kat, Daniel and his son, James, and some early reviews (of this book) have indicated that readers disliked the fact that these had been cemented in a prequel novella when this title is billed as the first in  series.  Because of such comments, I decided to read the novella before tackling Death Below Stairs, and would say I found it helpful to have done so.Kat Holloway has just taken a new position as cook in the Mayfair home of Lord Rankin.  It’s a small household, consisting of his lordship, his somewhat lethargical wife, Lady Emily, and her older sister Lady Cynthia who dresses in mens’ suits, smokes cheroots and chafes at the fact she is stuck under her unpleasant brother-in-law’s roof.  Kat very quickly assumes command of the kitchen and just as quickly sums up her colleagues who include Mr. Davies, the butler (affable but a bit lazy), Mrs. Barton, the housekeeper (very proper, runs a tight ship) and the maid assigned as cook’s assistant, Sinead, who is a bright girl and a fast learner whom Kat believes will do very well.Up early the next morning to begin preparations for the day’s meals, Kat goes to the pantry to retrieve some ingredients – and is horrified to find Sinead’s bludgeoned body lying on the floor. Reluctant to allow the murder scene to be disturbed, Kat locks the pantry door with the intention of getting word to Daniel McAdam so that he can inspect the room before the police arrive and disturb everything, but alas, she doesn’t know where he is or how to find him and has to allow the police and the coroner access so they can begin their investigations. I can certainly understand that readers not familiar with the novella would wonder who on earth Daniel is and why Kat is so keen for him to inspect the scene of the crime.Kat learns from Mrs. Barton that Sinead was stepping out with a young man who may have been involved with the Irish separatists (or Fenians, an organisation dedicated to securing Irish independence), and later, from Daniel, that he has been investigating links between the organisation and Lord Rankin, a skilled financier who has not only been engaged in some very dodgy financial deals, but is also actively involved in promoting transactions that help traitors to finance terrorist acts and their campaigns against the government.Both Kat and Daniel are sure these connections have to be more than coincidence, and the discovery of a ripped page from a Bradshaw (a book containing timetables for every railway route in Britain) hidden away in a corner of the pantry indicate that there is definitely more at stake than the murder of a servant. With the help of Lady Cynthia and a friend of Daniel’s (who happens to be a mathematical genius), Kat and Daniel begin to put together the pieces of the puzzle – and must race against time to foil an assassination plot directed at the Queen.While I liked Kat very much – she’s a down-to-earth woman who, after ‘marriage’ to an abusive bigamist who left her with a young daughter, has worked hard to acquire her culinary skills and to become a sought-after cook – it was something of a stretch of my credulity to believe that she could spend so much time away from the kitchen and retain her position. I know at one point we’re told that a temporary cook was engaged while Kat travelled with Daniel and Lady Cynthia in order to pursue their investigations, but I still found it rather hard to swallow. On the plus side, Ms. Ashley does a great job with the descriptions of the food Kat cooks – which all sounds mouth-watering – but I did sometimes feel as though I was being hit over the head with reminders that Kat Is A Cook.Daniel McAdam is fascinating and, if I’m honest, quickly became my main reason for reading the book; indeed, if I continue with the series, it’ll be solely on his account! He first appeared in Soupçon as an affable, scruffy delivery man, but it quickly became apparent he was nothing of the sort, an impression solidified when Kat saw him one evening dressed in formal attire and handing a lady into a carriage, very comfortably mingling with a group of ‘toffs’. He’s a chameleon, able to change his mode of dress, his bearing and his manner of speech to suit whatever situation he is in, and although he denies association with the police, it’s obvious he’s some sort of government agent or spy … or something of that ilk. Whatever it is, his work is dangerous and top secret; all he can tell Kat is that he can’t tell her the truth – yet – and ask her to wait and accept his friendship in the meantime.There’s a strong romantic thread running through the story which, again, commenced in the prequel. By the time Death Below Stairs opens, Kat and Daniel have already kissed a few times and their attraction to each other is evident, so the tension in the romance is generated by the fact that Kat doesn’t know who or what Daniel really is, and that while she knows she can trust him with her life… she’s not so sure she can trust him with her heart.Ms. Ashley has captured the ‘downstairs’ world of the servant class very well, the writing is solid and the story is easy to follow, although, as happened in Soupçon, the solution to the whodunnit – who killed Sinead? – comes a little out of left-field. Ultimately, however, I found the novel a little too pedestrian for my taste. Writers like Sherry Thomas and C.S. Harris have set the bar for historical mysteries incredibly high, and I like a little more challenge and complexity than is on display here. I’d put Death Below Stairs into the category of a ‘cosy’ mystery; the pacing is leisurely, the main characters are likeable and easy to root for, and the mystery is intriguing – but I had no problems setting the book aside, even in the last couple of chapters when all is being revealed. I’d recommend the novel to fans of cosy mysteries, but I don’t really count myself among their number; and to anyone looking for a mystery with a bit more bite and sophistication, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
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  • Mei
    January 1, 1970
    What a novelty! The heroine, Kat, is a cook!!! And a chef too!!! Yeah!!!I loved all the descriptions of how the food was cooked! And I loved how she organized the cooking process! Much better than I’m able to do! But, in my favor, I don’t have helpers like she did! LOLA very cute and a joy to read little mystery, little love story, little insight of household servant’s life!Also the hero, Daniel, with all his secrets, was a very interesting character. Who is he really? Why people obey him? He ch What a novelty! The heroine, Kat, is a cook!!! And a chef too!!! Yeah!!!I loved all the descriptions of how the food was cooked! And I loved how she organized the cooking process! Much better than I’m able to do! But, in my favor, I don’t have helpers like she did! LOLA very cute and a joy to read little mystery, little love story, little insight of household servant’s life!Also the hero, Daniel, with all his secrets, was a very interesting character. Who is he really? Why people obey him? He changes his appearance, his manners, his persona so easily! I’m greatly curious to find out all his secrets as much as the heroine is!There’re several interesting secondary characters, first of all Lady Cynthia, Mr. Thanos and James. Lady Cynthia with her eccentric behavior: she wears man’s attire, smokes and curses; Mr. Thanos’ mathematical genius with his lost-in-his-world attitude (but who still manage to notice Lady Cynthia! LOL) and smart and funny Daniel’s son James!The mystery starts as murder, but derails into terroristic attack to the Queen. It was interesting, even if Kat was a little too quick to connect the dots! I would have preferred if this connecting was done equally by everybody. This way, it seemed that only Kat was intelligent enough. But it didn’t detract from my enjoying this book!I’ll be looking forward to the next one!
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  • Jody McGrath
    January 1, 1970
    This was a really great book. I loved all the historical descriptions and the mystery. I was so caught up in the red-herring I forgot about the mystery, lol! I definitely recommend this book!I would strongly suggest you read the short story A Soupçon of Poison before you read this first in the series full length novel. I didn't and I feel like I missed a lot of the chemistry between characters being set up, and a lot of the backstory being told in full. The backstory is all sort of recapped in t This was a really great book. I loved all the historical descriptions and the mystery. I was so caught up in the red-herring I forgot about the mystery, lol! I definitely recommend this book!I would strongly suggest you read the short story A Soupçon of Poison before you read this first in the series full length novel. I didn't and I feel like I missed a lot of the chemistry between characters being set up, and a lot of the backstory being told in full. The backstory is all sort of recapped in this book, but I felt like I lost a lot of the emotion and nuisances that would have been there. I didn't know there was a short story first, so I am telling all of you! Read it first! Lol!
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  • ☕ Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    First I must tell you there is a prequel to this story. A Soupçon of Poison and while it isn't necessary to read it, it does offer an intro to principal characters and is one I recommend. You will quickly learn that Kat has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies.Mrs. Kat Holloway is one of the youngest cooks in London and comes highly recommended. In Death Below Stairs, she takes a position in the Mayfair district in the home of Lord Rankin. The household is quite odd, from the fragile Lady Ranki First I must tell you there is a prequel to this story. A Soupçon of Poison and while it isn't necessary to read it, it does offer an intro to principal characters and is one I recommend. You will quickly learn that Kat has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies.Mrs. Kat Holloway is one of the youngest cooks in London and comes highly recommended. In Death Below Stairs, she takes a position in the Mayfair district in the home of Lord Rankin. The household is quite odd, from the fragile Lady Rankin to her sister garbed in men's attire and the quirky help. None of this phases Kat, so long as they stay out of her kitchen.  On her second morning, she enters the pantry to discover that her young assistant has been bludgeoned to death. The tale that unfolds was a captivating one as Kat sets out to solve the murder undercovers a clever scheme.Death Below Stairs, was an amusing tale, that takes us belowstairs in a Victorian household and enlists the help of an aloof mathematical genius, Daniel's son and Rankin's unique and resourceful sister-in-law. The characters were well developed, and the plot delightful paced allowing me to quickly devoured the story.The murder-mystery soon gives way to a plot to harm the crown and Ashley made it all feel rather plausible. There is an overall arc to the series that presented questions. Who is Daniel McAdam? He is a jack of all trades and moves between the classes. What are his intentions towards Kat? We learn about Kat's past, and it further endeared me to this strong, capable cook.Smart and captivating Death Below Stairs, is the perfect Victorian cozy to curl up with. All the sweet talk of scones, tea, and four-course meals might leave you a tad hungry. Fortunately, Ashley's engaging whodunit will keep you occupied.  I look forward to Scandal Above Stairs, releasing in July 2018. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
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  • Ingela
    January 1, 1970
    Review written January 5, 20183.7 Stars - Simply fun, thrilling and lovelyWritten by a favorite author Jennifer Ashley (Ashley Gardner) and I was once again surprisingly hooked by a novel by her. I was listening to the (newly published) audiobook, 9:28 hours very well narrated by Anne Marie Piazza, in a two day rush. Wow, it isn’t often I finish a book so fast nowadays. **********************************************Set in London 1881 ..A mystery with a female main character, a cook Kat Holloway Review written January 5, 20183.7 Stars - Simply fun, thrilling and lovelyWritten by a favorite author Jennifer Ashley (Ashley Gardner) and I was once again surprisingly hooked by a novel by her. I was listening to the (newly published) audiobook, 9:28 hours very well narrated by Anne Marie Piazza, in a two day rush. Wow, it isn’t often I finish a book so fast nowadays. **********************************************Set in London 1881 ..A mystery with a female main character, a cook Kat Holloway in her thirties who takes a new position in a London Mayfair mansion. Kat is there to make great food but trouble soon finds its way “below stairs”. The young Irish kitchen assistant is murdered. Kat who is a kind of sleuth wants to solve the mystery and turn to her acquaintance, the very charming and good looking but mysterious, Daniel McAdam for help.Ms Ashley is famous for her great romances (both HR and PNR) but this one is a more of a historical mystery and there is just a tiny bit of love stuff. Instead you get thrilling suspense, interesting historical facts, very intriguing and enjoying second characters and of course a needed whodunnit case to be solved. I actually didn’t guess who the evil murderer was until the very end. Though I guessed there should be love... Good job as always by Ms Ashley. Looking forward to future adventures with these lovely characters. **********************************************I LIKE - all kind of great stories written by Jennifer Ashley / Ashley Gardner
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  • Mara
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Penguin,You are totally out of your mind to think that many readers are willing to pay 10$ for an ebook. I will remind you that in theory I have absolutely no right to it except reading it. And you expect me to pay that outrageous amount of money?
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  • Jenny Q
    January 1, 1970
    Given the popularity of contemporary food-themed mystery series, it's about time someone brought that trend to historical fiction. As a big fan of Jennifer Ashley's MacKenzie & McBrides historical romance series, I had high hopes for Death Below Stairs, and I was not disappointed!I do recommend you begin with the novella that kicks this series off, A Soupçon of Poison. Originally written as a stand-alone for a historical mystery anthology, it perfectly introduces our heroine, London chef Kat Given the popularity of contemporary food-themed mystery series, it's about time someone brought that trend to historical fiction. As a big fan of Jennifer Ashley's MacKenzie & McBrides historical romance series, I had high hopes for Death Below Stairs, and I was not disappointed!I do recommend you begin with the novella that kicks this series off, A Soupçon of Poison. Originally written as a stand-alone for a historical mystery anthology, it perfectly introduces our heroine, London chef Kat Holloway, and her love interest, the mysterious and charming Daniel McAdam. Though the mystery is rather mediocre, this novella does an excellent job at establishing Kat's history and the romantic tension and definitely enhances the undercurrents in Death Below Stairs.Kat Holloway may be new to Lord Rankin's staff, but she is the queen of her kitchen and all who enter it, and when her pretty, young assistant is taken advantage of, Kat vows to prevent it from happening again. But before she has the chance, her assistant is found dead. Saddened at the senseless loss of life and naturally curious by nature, with a noble conscience and a can-do attitude, Kat is immediately drawn into the mystery and determines to do all she can to help find the killer. Alongside Daniel, she finds help in unexpected places and eventually becomes part of a mystery-solving crew, discovering that the murder of a housemaid was just the tip of the iceberg in a far-reaching plot to commit the ultimate act of revolution. A dangerous journey ensues and ends in a heart-pounding climactic scene. There's a hearty dose of history, including Irish terrorism and engineering disasters, and also a very emotional subplot involving Kat's young daughter. Kat's position allows us a wonderful glimpse into a Victorian kitchen and the hierarchy of servants and the lower societal classes, and that really sets this series apart.But it's not completely perfect. There's a bit of repetition as Kat evaluates clues and her feelings for Daniel, and as he repeatedly tells her one day he'll bare his soul to her, but not today; and while I was kept guessing till the end, once revealed, I found the murderer's motives a bit underdeveloped. But I'm a sucker for a good romance, I love the unconventional characters and the setting within the working class of Victorian London, and the luscious food descriptions were the icing on the cake. It's a smart mystery and a deliciously exciting read! I'm looking forward to the next book this summer, Scandal Above Stairs.
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  • RachelW (BamaGal)
    January 1, 1970
    Full review...This is the first full length book in this Victorian era series, which began with a short story prequel. I've become quite taken with Kat Holloway; a master cook who rules the kitchen in Society digs. Downton Abbey in London, as it were. Kat seems to get herself mixed up in murder and mayhem on a regular basis, however, and relies on the mysterious Daniel McAdam for assistance when she begins poking her nose into these crimes. Daniel is all too willing to become involved in Kat's d Full review...This is the first full length book in this Victorian era series, which began with a short story prequel. I've become quite taken with Kat Holloway; a master cook who rules the kitchen in Society digs. Downton Abbey in London, as it were. Kat seems to get herself mixed up in murder and mayhem on a regular basis, however, and relies on the mysterious Daniel McAdam for assistance when she begins poking her nose into these crimes. Daniel is all too willing to become involved in Kat's dilemmas; as he is growing quite enamored with her, and he has his own interest in the case. This time around, the storyline is murder, family secrets, and a plot by Irish terrorists to kill Queen Victora. I still haven't figured out quite who or what Daniel really is, only that he is deep undercover investigating someone or something in the High Society world. The book is character driven, and is a bit sluggish compared to the prequel; but picked up speed as the criminal activities came to a head. I have already grown intrigued by the setting and major players in the series, and look forward to their next adventure.
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  • Barbara Rogers
    January 1, 1970
    Series: Kat Holloway #1Publication Date: 1/2/18Wow! Just WOW! I love Jennifer Ashley’s writing but was a little concerned about whether I’d like this book and series or not – simply because it takes place at a time later than I usually enjoy reading - 1881. Color me pleased and full of enjoyment! I greatly admire Kat Holloway who is NOT your standard heroine in a novel. I was also concerned about how a cook in a very busy and demanding household was going to manage to have time to flit about Eng Series: Kat Holloway #1Publication Date: 1/2/18Wow! Just WOW! I love Jennifer Ashley’s writing but was a little concerned about whether I’d like this book and series or not – simply because it takes place at a time later than I usually enjoy reading - 1881. Color me pleased and full of enjoyment! I greatly admire Kat Holloway who is NOT your standard heroine in a novel. I was also concerned about how a cook in a very busy and demanding household was going to manage to have time to flit about England investigating crimes. In this book, that was well explained and the absences were accounted for – but – I do wonder how that will work in the future.Kat Holloway is a straight-laced, no-nonsense, intelligent, logical and strong Victorian woman who is twenty-nine years of age, plump, brown-haired, attractive and kind. She has a past and secrets to protect. She also has a need to protect the underdog and those who cannot protect themselves – not to mention harboring a soft-spot for a certain, very mysterious man and boy who keeps popping into and out of her life. We learn more about Kat’s secrets and her past as we move through the story and come to understand a lot of how she came to be who she is. I definitely came to admire her for her fortitude in dealing with issues that would have broken a weaker woman. I’ll really be looking forward to learning more about her in future additions to the series.Daniel McAdam is a complete and total mystery – and you won’t know a whole lot more about him at the end of the book than you did at the beginning. What an enigma he is! Is he noble? Is he common? Is he wealthy? Is he poor? Is he a spy? Is he part of the police? He is a total chameleon. What we do know is that he has a real admiration and a soft spot for Kat Holloway. He also has a son (James) who is on the cusp of manhood and theirs is a complicated relationship. I really like Daniel and can’t wait to see how the relationship between him and Kat will unfold. I love mysteries, but am not a fan of them if they don’t have a large, serious romance as well – so I’ll be looking forward to seeing this one grow.Our episode begins with Kat heading to the home of Lord and Lady Rankin to be interviewed for the post as their new cook. Kat had left her last post because the family was permanently moving out of London and for personal reasons Kat wanted/needed to remain in the city. Kat’s first day on the job was uneventful and she met and liked the staff with whom she worked. She was especially drawn to her young assistant who wanted to be called Sinead, but everyone insisted on calling Ellen because it was more English sounding. Actually, neither was her name. Kat was overcome when she walked into the larder a couple of days later to discover Sinead’s body – cold and hidden in a dark corner. She felt guilty and blamed herself because just the night before, she had left the young girl folding the table linens rather than helping her – and she had just promised the girl that she’d look out for her.Kat wants to make sure that the coroner and constables don’t just sluff off the death as an accident or some such. Because she feels guilty, she wants to assure that the death is properly investigated and that the perpetrator is identified and brought to justice. She really wants to find Daniel so he can see the scene before the coroner and constables get there, but that doesn’t happen. He does come into the investigation to help – and to further an investigation of his own. The two might be related.The investigation takes off and the safety of the queen and England itself could be at stake. They must solve the crime and assure that nothing happens to the queen. Multiple investigations, multiple perpetrators, and many bad guys. Quite a wild ride! LOVED IT ALL!What did I not like so much? Well …• I never did really understand if Lord Rankin was actually knowledgeably involved in the plot or if his money-hungry ways sucked him in.• Not learning about the final outcome for all of the plotters involved – especially ‘Minty’. I wanted him to fall in a bog someplace.• I really, really wanted to see Lady Cynthia get her HEA. Maybe that will come in the next book or something• I wanted to see Daniel and Kat receive recognition from the queen (if only in secret). I know we don’t know anything about Daniel, but I’d like to think the Queen knows and recognizes him. He and Kat did a lot! Maybe some of that will come later as well.Please check out my reviews at:Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages...Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRevTwitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview"I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher."
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  • Milena
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsYay, I have another great heroine to add to the list of my favorite female sleuths! Death Below Stairs is the first book in the new Victorian murder mystery series featuring Kat, a young cook working for a British upper class family and her sleuthing partner, mysterious jack-of-all-trades, Daniel McAdam. I loved this promising sleuthing duo and cannot wait to follow their future investigations. I am looking forward to reading the second book, Scandal Above Stairs.*ARC provided by the pu 4.5 starsYay, I have another great heroine to add to the list of my favorite female sleuths! Death Below Stairs is the first book in the new Victorian murder mystery series featuring Kat, a young cook working for a British upper class family and her sleuthing partner, mysterious jack-of-all-trades, Daniel McAdam. I loved this promising sleuthing duo and cannot wait to follow their future investigations. I am looking forward to reading the second book, Scandal Above Stairs.*ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
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  • Anna's Herding Cats
    January 1, 1970
    Reviewed for herding cats & burning soup.Amazon: http://amzn.to/2EnwEYMI just adore Jennifer Ashley's books and getting to jump into a new series? Yes, please!Death Below Stairs was a fun adventure with a no nonsense cook and a squirly acquaintance who pull together a ragtag group of eccentrics to save the world! LOL Well, okay just a small part of it, but still!The Gist: Kat has started a new job as a household cook and her first week? Well one of the young maids is murdered right in the ho Reviewed for herding cats & burning soup.Amazon: http://amzn.to/2EnwEYMI just adore Jennifer Ashley's books and getting to jump into a new series? Yes, please!Death Below Stairs was a fun adventure with a no nonsense cook and a squirly acquaintance who pull together a ragtag group of eccentrics to save the world! LOL Well, okay just a small part of it, but still!The Gist: Kat has started a new job as a household cook and her first week? Well one of the young maids is murdered right in the house! While horrible it might be linked to an even more nefarious plot to take down the Queen herself. Unless Kat and her acquaintances can piece things together in time.There was so much good about this one.Kat was a wonderful heroine. Strong, talented, doesn't mess around, brave. I enjoyed her voice and seeing her work through things.The rest of the cast was great, too. While I didn't love them all (wasn't meant to) it was fun seeing the family upstairs, the staff downstairs, how they all regarded each other. I loved her potential love interest Daniel and his son and some of the others who joined in on the hunt. They were so interesting and eclectic.While there wasn't a full blown romance there were light beginnings of one and I adored Kat and Daniel together. They suit and all of their interactions left me smiling and going come on come on come on you two! lolI loved the food! Yes, a lot of time is spent with Kat in her kitchen and it was fascinating seeing how things were made and done back in that time period. Her passion for food was wonderful, too. The mystery was fantastic, too. Seeing them working to figure out the maid's murder and take clues that could have easily been missed and realize something on a much grander scale was going on. The on the ground work they had to put in and the danger they went through. It was exciting and interesting.All in all, Death Below Stairs was wonderful. Everything was nicely done and has me excited for the next Kat Holloway mystery. Ashley really does have a magic touch. No matter if it's paranormal shifters or highlanders or mysteries she nails it.
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  • Giselle Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this! Such a fun book!
  • Meigan
    January 1, 1970
    Delightfully dark and peppered with slight humor, Death Below Stairs was a good first installment in Jennifer Ashley’s new Victorian mystery series. The mystery starts almost immediately with the death of a maid in the Rankin mansion, Kat’s newest place of employment. Everyone is under suspicion, as seemingly everyone had means and opportunity to commit the crime. Kat takes personal responsibility for the maids death because caring and sweet soul that she is, that’s just her nature, and she make Delightfully dark and peppered with slight humor, Death Below Stairs was a good first installment in Jennifer Ashley’s new Victorian mystery series. The mystery starts almost immediately with the death of a maid in the Rankin mansion, Kat’s newest place of employment. Everyone is under suspicion, as seemingly everyone had means and opportunity to commit the crime. Kat takes personal responsibility for the maids death because caring and sweet soul that she is, that’s just her nature, and she makes a personal vow to avenge the maid’s death and bring justice. We already know that Kat is a fabulous cook and by the end of this book, it’s rather apparent that her sleuthing skills are on par with her skills in cookery. I really enjoyed most everything about Death Below Stairs, from the characters to the historical setting to the various cooking references Ashley peppered throughout the novel. Although when it comes to Kat and Daniel, I felt like something was missing. It’s quite apparent that they’re more than friends and have been for quite some time and will possibly be moving forward with their relationship, but because that something was missing, it felt rushed and manufactured. There’s a history between Kat and Daniel that’s referenced quite a number of times, as well as an intimate (not sexual) relationship that’s alluded to and while a little backstory is provided later on in the narrative, I still felt like an outsider. I’m wondering if the prequel to this series explores that a little more, or provides a glimpse into what I was missing, so I very well may go and pick that up one of these days. The mystery was well laid out and carefully wrought, and the author did a fine job casting everyone in a shadow of guilt. Many of the characters were quite strange and stuffy to begin with, which certainly didn’t help any of them look all too innocent. There’s also a slight bit of humor to be found, which helped lighten the dark tone just a bit. All in all, Death Below Stairs was a good first entry into a promising new historical mystery series. I definitely enjoyed this and will be looking forward to Kat, Daniel, and James’ next adventure in the second book, Scandal Above Stairs. 3.5 stars.*I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways.
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  • Tina at A COZY GIRL READS AND WRITES Blog
    January 1, 1970
    Full of elements of romance and dynamic characters. I was emersed in the Victorian times setting. A complex, multi-layered plot. Non-stop suspense.Kat Holloway is a cook for the Lord and Lady Rankin. Kat is a sympathetic character with heart.She is not unlike your modern-day sleuth. With a willingness to solve a murder. No matter what the cost. The ending left me unsettled. I later realize that it would possibly be an absolution to a crime committed in that time. I look forward to reviewing the Full of elements of romance and dynamic characters. I was emersed in the Victorian times setting. A complex, multi-layered plot. Non-stop suspense.Kat Holloway is a cook for the Lord and Lady Rankin. Kat is a sympathetic character with heart.She is not unlike your modern-day sleuth. With a willingness to solve a murder. No matter what the cost. The ending left me unsettled. I later realize that it would possibly be an absolution to a crime committed in that time. I look forward to reviewing the next edition of the series.I received this book for an honest review from the publisher. Thank you to Berkley Prime Crime Books.
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  • Christa Schönmann Abbühl
    January 1, 1970
    The four stars are for the setting, the characters and the audio narration. The plot was ok, but did not always keep my attention.It was great reading about a cook as a mystery solving heroine. I loved her no nonsense attitude and her obvious intelligence, her competence and her integrity. What there is of romance was nice. I enjoy a couple who is a bit older, with life experiences and hidden depths. I also felt that the psychological aspects were dealt with in a very realistic manner: how peopl The four stars are for the setting, the characters and the audio narration. The plot was ok, but did not always keep my attention.It was great reading about a cook as a mystery solving heroine. I loved her no nonsense attitude and her obvious intelligence, her competence and her integrity. What there is of romance was nice. I enjoy a couple who is a bit older, with life experiences and hidden depths. I also felt that the psychological aspects were dealt with in a very realistic manner: how people react to a murder, or how they deal with a troubled past.
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  • LJ
    January 1, 1970
    First Sentence: I had not been long at my post in Mount Street, Mayfair, when my employer’s sister came to some calamity.Cook Kat Holloway has a new position in the home of Lord Rankin. He’s not a man you’d trust with the young maids, but would he really have killed a young Irish kitchen maid? With the help of Daniel McAdam, who is far more than he appears to be, and his son James, a plot is uncovered that extends far beyond the household.Ashley creates a very strong sense of place, down to thin First Sentence: I had not been long at my post in Mount Street, Mayfair, when my employer’s sister came to some calamity.Cook Kat Holloway has a new position in the home of Lord Rankin. He’s not a man you’d trust with the young maids, but would he really have killed a young Irish kitchen maid? With the help of Daniel McAdam, who is far more than he appears to be, and his son James, a plot is uncovered that extends far beyond the household.Ashley creates a very strong sense of place, down to things as basic as a description of –“London was always a town on the move. Mud flew as carriage wheels and horses churned it up, droplets becoming dark rain to meld with the fog.”—and the layout of the house. One cannot have a protagonist who is a cook without many mentions of food and tempting-sounding meals—“…the cream of carrot soup…, the fish pale in its butter sauce, the beef proudly browned and crackling with heat, its sauce of wine, demi-glace, and shallots poured around its base, the potatoes crisp…” These descriptions represent more than the food itself. The quality of the cook represented the wealth of the family, the prestige of the cook, and the work involved in buying for, and preparing such meals.Kat is an excellent character. She knows her worth and doesn’t stand for any nonsense. She has a life outside the kitchen but keeps that life very much to herself. There is a strength and intelligence to her which would have been important for her role during the period. Kat exemplifies so many women, both then and today, who deal with life’s disappointments and tragedies yet take care of others and their own daily tasks. Using a first-person POV is cleverly done and demonstrates the quality of Ashley’s voice. Our protagonist is well aware that she is telling the story, but it again clarifies who she is—“I’d read nonsensical tales in popular magazines in which maids, when stumbling upon an inert member of mankind, dropped entire trays full of the household’s best porcelain. I’d always consider the maids in these stories to be fools—a dead body is no reason to destroy so much crockery.”Ashley’s observations are fascinating and make one think. Her pragmatism makes her the type of person one should like to know.Daniel is a character who adds just the right element to the plot. He has the connections, physical strength, and ability to move about the city in ways Kat does not. And a bit of romance never hurts, either.“Death Below Stairs” has a plot that is a bit convoluted and feels as though it takes a back seat to Kat's activities in the kitchen. However, it truly is the characters who are the book’s strength, as well as a look at life below stairs, but there’s enough suspense to make this a very worthwhile read.DEATH BELOW STAIRS (Hist Mys-Kat Holloway-London-1881/Victorian) - Good Ashley, Jennifer – 2nd in series Berkeley, Jan 2018
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  • Kathryn
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed this historical story of crime. Loved Kat and her cooking and her common sense, good heart and nose for solving a crime. Looking forward to reading the next Kat Holloway mystery.
  • Christina T
    January 1, 1970
    While much of this book is actually very well written I just wasn't as engaged as I could have been.The Good, The Bad, and Everything In Between: A mystery set in Victorian times told from a servant's perspective was so great. Jennifer Ashley does a great job of researching her books. The details of Kat's cooking was so amazing I wanted to join the family eating it. Everything Kat prepared was well detailed I was a little surprised I had a hard time connecting with the characters. This is the fi While much of this book is actually very well written I just wasn't as engaged as I could have been.The Good, The Bad, and Everything In Between: A mystery set in Victorian times told from a servant's perspective was so great. Jennifer Ashley does a great job of researching her books. The details of Kat's cooking was so amazing I wanted to join the family eating it. Everything Kat prepared was well detailed I was a little surprised I had a hard time connecting with the characters. This is the first book in the series but it reads like book 2. I later found out there was a novella prequel but my library doesn't have it and $2.99 is just too much to pay for a novella, IMHO. I'm not a huge fan of novellas in general but dislike "having" to read one just so I don't feel lost while reading a a first in series? Thumbs down.The mystery aspect happened about 1/3 into the book and even though Kat was determined to figure out who killed the kitchen maid (who had 3 different names just an FYI) nothing really came about it until the very end. A second mystery cropped up during the course of the book and all investigation ceased on the poor kitchen maid's demise. The main characters remained a mystery to me even after finishing the book and I'm not even sure I liked any of them. As the book progressed we did get to know some of Kat's background but Daniel is an absolute enigma. Where did he come from? How did they meet and what caused them to be so enamored with each other? What is his real job? Some of these things could have been explained enough for me to determine if Daniel is even a worthy man. Worthy of Kat. Worthy of becoming a book boyfriend...yes this is an important thing. As of now, he isn't. I don't even know if he is a good man except Jennifer Ashley said he was.In a Nutshell: The good, unfortunately, just didn't outweigh the bad for me in this one. I just don't see myself picking up the second book in this series but will definitely read more from this author. 2.5 Stars but rounded up for GR purposes
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  • Kathy Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Kat Holloway is a young woman who is a cook. She has worked for a number of homes in Mayfair. Now she has accepted employment in the house of Lord Rankin, a prominent financier and his wife. Also in the household is his sister-in-law Lady Cynthia who enjoys dressing like a man. She is only in the household one day when she steps into her larder and finds her cook's assistant Sinead beaten to death. Kat immediately contacts her mysterious friend Daniel McAdam who can mingle with all layers of soc Kat Holloway is a young woman who is a cook. She has worked for a number of homes in Mayfair. Now she has accepted employment in the house of Lord Rankin, a prominent financier and his wife. Also in the household is his sister-in-law Lady Cynthia who enjoys dressing like a man. She is only in the household one day when she steps into her larder and finds her cook's assistant Sinead beaten to death. Kat immediately contacts her mysterious friend Daniel McAdam who can mingle with all layers of society and who helped her with an earlier problem.Daniel confesses to her that Lord Rankin's household was already under suspicion. He might be investing for the Fenians who are trying for a free Ireland and using terroristic attacks to advance their cause. A mysterious scrap of paper found near Sinead leads Kat, Daniel, Lady Cynthia, and others on a wild chase to protect Queen Victoria.Kat tells the story in the first person and we gradually learn some of her secrets including that she was once married to an abusing bigamist and has a ten-year-old daughter living with friends. We also learn that Kat is quite curious both about what is going on in Lord Rankin's home and about her friend Daniel McAdam. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and notable common sense. Daniel is a wonderful hero too. He is some sort of investigator but says he isn't with the police. He is protective both of Kat and his teenage son James. He has contacts all over London and can transform himself into anything from a man-of-all-work to a dapper middle class gentleman. I really want to know who he's working for. I like the growing relationship between the practical Kat and the secretive Daniel. It is a romance though between two people who both have secrets to keep. The mystery was engaging and action-packed. I felt when I began this one that I had missed a previous book which detailed how Daniel and Kat met. There were quite a few references to something that had happened earlier between them. The Aurhot's Note at the back says there is a short story A Soupcon of Poison that does give this information and can't wait to read it. I also can't wait to read more books about Kat and Daniel.
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  • Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    My review cross-posted from Wit and Sin Murder, secrets, and seedcake all come together to form one highly entertaining mystery in Death Below Stairs . Jennifer Ashley’s first Kat Holloway novel is a delight, thanks in large part to the wonderful cast of characters.Kat Holloway is a talented cook and I loved seeing how a Victorian-era household chef works. Yet while that’s interesting in its own right, that’s not what endeared her to me. Kat is smart, no-nonsense, and stands up for what is rig My review cross-posted from Wit and Sin Murder, secrets, and seedcake all come together to form one highly entertaining mystery in Death Below Stairs . Jennifer Ashley’s first Kat Holloway novel is a delight, thanks in large part to the wonderful cast of characters.Kat Holloway is a talented cook and I loved seeing how a Victorian-era household chef works. Yet while that’s interesting in its own right, that’s not what endeared her to me. Kat is smart, no-nonsense, and stands up for what is right, even when it might get her in trouble. She’s a clever sleuth, and when her assistant is murdered in the middle of the night, she becomes determined to find out who killed the girl and why. But a cook – no matter how quick – cannot solve crime alone, which is why she needs the help of Daniel McAdam. Daniel is a mysterious figure who puts on and sheds personas at the drop of a hat. He seems to be able to find anything at any time and I’m desperate to know more about him. What I do know so far, I absolutely adore. Even though this isn’t a romance (though it does have romantic elements), I still have to say that Daniel is a pretty swoon-worthy hero. His charm radiates off the page and the way he interacts with Kat makes me sigh more often than not. The two of them have seriously fantastic chemistry that I’m hoping will continue to develop over the course of the series.Daniel and Kat are at the heart of Death Below Stairs , but they’re not the only interesting characters. Daniel’s son James is as charming as his father and Kat’s daughter Grace is as sweet as can be. Lord Rankin’s household staff are a bunch of colorful characters that add life and depth to the story. Every single supporting character in this book is well-drawn and adds to the tale. But though the characters are what stood out most to me in Death Below Stairs , that doesn’t mean the mystery is lacking. A not-so-simple case of murder leads to clues about a Fenian plot, one with dire implications that leads to an exciting race against the clock. Ms. Ashley seamlessly blends historical details in with fiction and the result is a marvelous mystery that’s filled with action. Death Below Stairs is the first full-length Kat Holloway novel and readers can easily dive right in here. However, there is a prequel novella, A Soupçon of Poison, that I highly recommend reading first. It gave me a better sense going into the novel of Kat’s character, background, professional situation, and her relationships with Daniel, James, and Grace. Death Below Stairs is an engaging murder mystery overall. Jennifer Ashley’s writing always draws me in and this story is no exception. And while I finished this book a well-satisfied reader, I cannot wait to see what Kat and Daniel take on next in Scandal Above Stairs!FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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  • Rachmi
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI only knew Ms. Ashley works by her historical romance series, MacKenzies & McBride series which I quite like though I haven't finished it yet. So when I knew that she will release a historical mystery book, I was so excited to read it.This is a story about a young cook named Kat Holloway. She is a twenty eight years old cook who works in a high-end household. She's a smart and no nonsense kind of woman, with curiosity that can endanger her. I love her because of her sharp mind and 3.5 starsI only knew Ms. Ashley works by her historical romance series, MacKenzies & McBride series which I quite like though I haven't finished it yet. So when I knew that she will release a historical mystery book, I was so excited to read it.This is a story about a young cook named Kat Holloway. She is a twenty eight years old cook who works in a high-end household. She's a smart and no nonsense kind of woman, with curiosity that can endanger her. I love her because of her sharp mind and have compassion to others.She definitely makes a good pair with a single father deliveryman, Daniel McAdam. He is quite a mysterious hero, there's not much about him reveal here. I guess the author will do it in the next book. But I bet readers can at least guess who and what he is along the way, like I did. It's just I need the confirmation now, really cannot wait if my guess is right or wrong.I love their relationship. It's obvious that they are attracted with each other but it doesn't take much to overshadow the beef of the story, the murder below the stairs where Kat works. It is exactly what I like, to be honest. I know that they always keep their eyes on each other but they also do other things that they have to do and sometimes they don't see each other for days and that's okay with them. And it also allows them to grow their relationship which is more makes sense to me.As for the story, I think it's an interesting one. There's part that I was so glue to it I feel like I cannot stop reading it. There are surprises in the mysteries though some of them are pretty easy to guess. But still it's an enjoyable one to read.I also cannot help not pay attention to other characters. I really like most of them and wish they are make appearance in the next book. I especially want to see more of Lady Cynthia and Mr. Thanos and Daniel's son, James.
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