Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver - #review

When Milo Ames receives a troubling letter from his childhood nanny, Madame Nanette, he and Amory travel to Paris where they are soon embroiled in a mystery surrounding the death of a famous parfumier. Helios Belanger died suddenly, shortly before the release of his newest, highly-anticipated perfume, and Madame Nanette, who works for the family, is convinced that her employer’s death was not due to natural causes.

The more Amory and Milo look into the motives of industry rivals and the Belanger heirs who are vying for control of his perfume empire, the more they are convinced that Nanette may be right. When secrets unfold and things take a dangerous turn, Amory and Milo must work quickly to uncover the essence of the matter and catch a killer before the scent goes cold.

The fourth installment in the Edgar-nominated mystery series set in 1930s England.



I am a great fan of the punny titles and plays on words that are often found in cozy mysteries.  And I believe that Ashley Weaver pulls a not-often-seen 'double play' in her new book, The Essence of Malice.  My mind made the link to the film The Absence of Malice (Paul Newman, Sally Field - 1981).  Absence and essence are, of course, quite different, and there was plenty of malice to go around in the Belanger family.  And essence was just the perfect word because the Belangers ran a perfume empire.

On one layer you have the death of the head of the family, which sets of speculation about the future of the company and if it continues, who will run it?  Will it be the son, who is all business, or the daughter, who has a creative legacy from her father?  How many wills are there and which is 'the' one?

Then there is the question if the death was natural or was it murder?  That's where our detective couple (Milo and Amory) come in.  Their entree into the family environs is that they are asking Belanger's daughter to create a unique perfume for Amory - supposedly a spoiled, rich English woman.  When each day seems to bring new evidence and or a new suspect, our detectives Ames & Ames have their work cut out for them.

And to make things even more complicated it seems that things are not entirely happy in chez Ames.  At times, Amory feels that Milo is working at cross-purposes to her and quite a bit of their investigation(s) take place solo.  Sometimes they do not even share their findings with each other.

There are even some ethical questions thrown in that could apply to both the situation in the book and to circumstances in which readers may find themselves today.

The ending truly surprised me, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

"Malice" is the fourth book in the series, and as it's the first one I've read, I cannot say whether it is better to read them in order or if it makes a difference.  I had no trouble following the story or the Ames' history.  I will, however, be reading the previous installments in the future.



ASHLEY WEAVER is the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries in Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University. She lives in Oakdale, Louisiana.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers in exchange for my honest review.)

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