Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen


Lady Montfort has been planning her annual summer costume ball for months, and with scrupulous care. Pulling together the food, flowers and a thousand other details for one of the most significant social occasions of the year is her happily accepted responsibility. But when her husband’s degenerate nephew is found murdered, it’s more than the ball that is ruined. In fact, Lady Montfort fears that the official police enquiry, driven by petty snobbery and class prejudice, is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect.

Taking matters into her own hands, the rather over-imaginative countess enlists the help of her pragmatic housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case, track down the women that vanished the night of the murder, and clear her son’s name. As the two women search for a runaway housemaid and a headstrong young woman, they unearth the hidden lives of Lady Montfort’s close friends, servants and family and discover the identity of a murderer hiding in plain sight.

In this enchanting debut sure to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, Tessa Arlen draws readers into a world exclusively enjoyed by the rich, privileged classes and suffered by the men and women who serve them. Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is an elegant mystery filled with intriguing characters and fascinating descriptions of Edwardian life—a superb treat for those who love British novels.

A Party for Winston, the second book in the series to be released in January 2016.



Not having seen much of Downton Abbey (*gasp*), I would tend to equate this time period with Masterpiece Theatre's "Upstairs, Downstairs", which I loved.  The society, "them upstairs and them downstairs" are still in place today, although it's not as 'PC' to acknowledge or talk about it.

It's utterly fascinating to watch how Ms. Arlen relates the story of a lady and her housekeeper, set against this social background, go about investigating a murder amongst the country set, and many 'shocking' secrets are discovered when the masks come off people they thought they knew better.  The switches in points of view among characters posed no problem at all, as I was entirely absorbed and seeing the story through whichever character was narrating at the time.  Stories that draw a reader in to that extent are a favorite of mine.

I was a teensy bit confused as to what time period in which the book was set (at the beginning), but that was my own shortcoming; many books I have read are more black and white about the year or age.  But once I heard, "motorcar" and especially the bit about how scandalized one society matron was about a young woman driving alone in her motorcar, there was no more doubt.

I hope I am not mistaken in believing there will be a continuation of the story of these two most unusual sleuths, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson,



TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

For more information please visit Tessa Arlen’s website. Read Tessa Arlen’s blog at Redoubtable Edwardians. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Click the logo button above to go to the tour page for the full schedule of stops, including more reviews, as well as interviews, guest posts, spotlights and GIVEAWAYS!

(Disclosure:  I received an e-copy of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)


This book also helps me fulfill the following 2015 reading challenges:

52 books in 52 Weeks
105 Challenge (Category 7 - Continent of Europe (England)
Around the World Challenge (mini-challenge 1: European continent (England))
NetGalley RC
New to You Challenge - (author)
TBR Challenge
Ultimate Reading Challenge (#4-published this year)
Women Authors Challenge

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you enjoyed this one too! It was such an enjoyable book. I look forward to seeing what else the author brings us.