Blog Tour Review: A Death by Any Other Name: A Mystery, by Tessa Arlen. St. Martin’s Press Minotaur Books.

I am very pleased to be a part of this Tessa Arlen blog tour, reviewing A Death By Any Other Name.

 

This is the second Tessa Arlen mystery I have reviewed that features Lady Montford and her housekeeper Mrs. Jackson, having read and reviewed the previous book, Death Sits Down to Dinner, in March 2016. Written in the style of my favorite Golden Age mysteries, Arlen’s books are richly told tales set in an important historical background.

The book starts with a list of the Dramatis Personae–a feature I have always enjoyed as it gives one a small preview and also can serve as a handy reference for the reader as the plot thickens.

The relationship between Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson is, officially, noble lady and capable housekeeper. Unofficially, they are comrades-in-arms as they pursue the mysteries that they encounter. Arlen manages this role-juggling act for our two leading characters very convincingly.

Tessa Arlen has chosen as the time line for this book the momentous days as the world teeters on the edge of the dangerous precipice that will become known as World War 1. This serves to heighten the drama for the reader, as we are in possession of of a historical perspective that Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have not yet acquired.

Set against this looming event, the story takes the two ladies to a earnest effort in aid of a cook erroneously considered responsible for the poisoning death of a visitor to her employer’s household. With her professional reputation shattered, her expectations for a successful life are in jeopardy.

Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson find themselves drawn into the world of the Hyde Rose Society, which is about to entertain an important guest persuaded somewhat reluctantly into a judging of tea roses. There is no shortage of intrigue and interesting characters in this story. Once again Ms. Arlen shows herself adept at sprinkling the scene with a tasty selection of best-quality red herrings. In the midst of the drama of the little rose society, and with a world war in the wings, we are thoroughly entertained by this well-drawn story.

As the title suggests, we find, as do our two leading ladies, that a rose by any other name . . .well, you know the rest. The solution is inventive and surprising.

As in Death Sits Down to Dinner, we are furnished with an afterword providing a wealth of historical background for the fictional account we have just enjoyed.

My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review and to Shailyn Tavella of Minotaur Books for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

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