Death in Kew Gardens

(Kat Holloway Mysteries #3)

by Jennifer Ashley

Kat Holloway has her kitchen empire well under control below stairs at Lord Rankin’s house: a truce with Mr. Davis, Tess coming along well as assistant cook, a friendship of sorts with Lady Cynthia, and then two things happen.

A new Housekeeper arrives and she meets a Chinaman in the street.

When her nextdoor neighbor is murdered, and somehow the mysterious and friendlier-than-ever Daniel McAdam is involved, Mrs. Holloway must find out who killed Sir Jacob before her new Chinaman friend is arrested.

This is serious fun reading, especially (if like me) you really enjoy Deanna Rayborn, Anna Lee Huber, or Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series. What they all have in common Ashley also does well here with Kat Holloway: give us a compelling heroine with curiosity, the ability to move around society, and a gentleman foil with secrets of his own. Only, in the Kat Holloway series, she’s a domestic (albeit upper domestic) rather than a rich lady, so we do get some interesting tidbits about servants’ lives.

We also get insight into the food she creates (which is fun). In this one, Mrs. Holloway even tries Chinaman noodles for the first time! And therein lies a little of my unease with how Kat Holloway is portrayed as the most woke, the most progressive person ever. She literally goes to the market, shoulders in amidst a sea of Chinamen (yes I keep using that word because that’s how they’re portrayed in the book) at a wagon and eats noodles with chopsticks for the first time in her life.

Hmmm….not sure that made total sense to me. Like, if her friend had introduced her to it…maybe. Also there was barely any Daniel in this book. He kept coming in for very short bursts. At this point in the series I wanted co-adventures rather than a cavalry. Still, such a lovely, easy-to-read series. And I am beginning to enjoy how Tess’s outbursts almost always serve to protect Kat.