Book Quick Facts
Title: Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Kat Holloway accepts a position as the head cook in the London townhouse of a rich family. She cooks dinner. She goes to bed. Then she wakes up in the morning to find her kitchen assistant dead in the pantry.
A fashionable lady in Victorian society would probably have fainted right about then. But Kat Holloway is not a fashionable society lady, instead, she’s a young, no-nonsense cook who has no intention of fainting. In fact, she plans on finding the poor girl’s murderer.
Of course, if Daniel, the handsome, man of mystery that has helped Kat out before, wants to aid her investigation, she’s not going to complain.
It’s Lady Emily Series meets Downton Abbey.
Colorful characters and mystery fill Jennifer Ashley’s Death Below Stairs. It marries the female Victorian investigator factor of the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander (not to mention the inclusion of a mysterious, handsome detective sidekick) and the up-stairs-downstairs drama of Downton Abbey. Death Below Stairs kept me turning pages while wondering who really killed the kitchen maid–and if Kat and Daniel will ever declare their love for each other.
Yet, Death Below Stairs had as many idiosyncrasies as the characters did. Kat’s position as head cook, of course, means that she cooks. Usually, in novels, a character’s less than thrilling work happens off stage. Yet in Death Below Stairs, we get whole paragraphs that describe her scrubbing potatoes and making pudding. Cooking even invades Kat’s thoughts, even at the oddest of times. For example, she starts thinking about kneading dough while in the midst of mourning the possible death of someone she loves.
We get whole paragraphs that describe her scrubbing potatoes and making pudding.
Not only that, but this book claims to be the first in a series. Yet, it reads like a sequel. Much of Kat’s and Daniel’s relationship seems to have developed in a prequel and we get just bits and pieces of it to puzzle together as we read.
Meanwhile, the book ends with the mystery solved (as a mystery novel should). However, I wish it would have given us more closure on Kat’s romantic relationship. I understand the author intends the story to be a series, but a book still needs some finality on its own. It would make me feel better to leave the book knowing that the characters at least know where they stand with regard to each other for the time being.
The writing itself was adequate. The first few pages made my writing tutor alter ego come out and had me highlighting parts that needed to be revised. Yet, eventually, I gave that up and decided to just enjoy the story. After doing so, I found the book quite entertaining.
Recommendation: Do you like cooking, Victorian sleuthing and handsome men of mystery? Then Death Below Stairs is for you.