Fans of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances or Charles Finch's Charles Lenox mysteries will want to try D.M. Quincy's debut historical mystery, Murder in Mayfair. The wit, clothing and setting brings Regency London to life in a mystery with satisfying twists.
"Had his mount not lost its shoe on the return journey to London after taking the waters in Bath, Atlas Catesby would not have been in a position to purchase another man's wife." Catesby, an adventurer stuck at home while recuperating from a broken foot, is appalled to see a man auctioning off his wife in the inn's yard. He hopes to save her by purchasing her, but Lilliana Warwick is not grateful. She's afraid her husband won't let her see her two young sons. Although Atlas deposits her at his sister Thea's home, Lilliana persists in sneaking off to see her boys. The final straw is when Godfrey Warwick expels Lilliana and fires the household staff that aided her. When Catesby storms into Warwick's haberdashery to confront him, he finds the man's body. The shrewd Bow Street Runner, Ambrose Endicott, who is called to the site, suspects either Catesby or Lilliana could have been involved in her husband's murder.
While Catesby finds the murder investigation intriguing, he's even more puzzled by the secret of Lilliana Warwick's past. Who is this educated woman of quality who seems of a higher class than her late husband? Atlas Catesby "couldn't trust Endicott to find the true killer, and he wouldn't leave his fate - or Mrs. Warwick's for that matter - in someone else's hands. He'd have to do it himself." Together with his best friend, Gabriel Young, the Earl of Charlton, Catesby hunts for answers.
It's exciting to discover an author who creates wonderful characters and places them in the perfect setting to enhance their style and wit. It's easy to fall for Atlas Catesby. Charlton is a delight, and not at all the man he appears to be at first. Catesby's sister, Thea, is a mathematician. Even the villains are just right in their roles. There's humor even in the midst of a murder investigation.
Why did D.M. Quincy set her book in this period? In her acknowledgements, she says "I wanted my protagonist, Atlas Catesby, to move in this world because it was a time of extremes: of elegance and extravagance, as well as crime and poverty." She is adept at depicting the clothing and style of Regency London without overwhelming the story.
Murder in Mayfair is the first Atlas Catesby mystery. I can't wait for his next adventure.
D.M. Quincy's website is http://www.dianaquincy.com/
Murder in Mayfair by D.M. Quincy. Crooked Lane. 2017. ISBN 9781683312253 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.