It was amazing, really, what murder had done for my marriage.
Death Wears a Mask is the utterly charming follow-up to Ashley Weaver Murder at the Brightwell (which I also loved). This second installment continues the momentum of the first, throwing it’s amateur lady detective, Amory Ames into another investigation and into more relationship drama with her husband, Milo.
Asked by a family friend, Serena Barrington, to look into the apparent theft of her jewels during a dinner party, Amory finds herself looking at the motives of the dinner guests. Amory’s reputation from the events at the Brightwell have preceded her arrival in London, and Serena is sure that Amory can put her investigative skills to use and catch the culprit. Amory is not really given a chance to refuse, and so begins her investigation, which leads to murder, mayhem and disguises (okay, well, just one).
In addition to Amory’s investigation she also has to contend with more trouble in her marriage to Milo. While they had reconnected during the events of Murder at the Brightwell, Milo appears to back to his old habits when he’s photographed with a popular actress. It seems that Amory has to make a decision about what to do about her husband, does she let him get away with his apparent infidelities or does see seek out a divorce and make a clean break.
Now, I have to admit I have my own pet theory about Milo’s apparent playboy behaviour. I am 95% certain that Milo is a spy or some sort of government agent. There are just too many red flags that seem to indicate that this might be the case. Something is just not right with his convenient explanations or his sudden appearances at certain events. At any rate, the conflict between Amory and Milo makes for good reading and it complements the mystery really well. That said, I do hope that book three brings these two together on a more common ground; the waffling about their relationship and the deep-seated problems never seem to totally get resolved. Is Amory ever going to be able to trust her husband who clearly does not share everything with his wife? But, hey, it will bring me back for book three, so the author clearly knows what she’s doing.
In addition to the Amory’s relationship turmoil, the setting and it’s heroine continue to charm. 1930s London was a lot of fun. While Death Wears a Mask isn’t high on historical detail, the atmosphere of the 1930s, and it’s opulence, at least for the rich, gives this series a wonderful sense of place. Amory and Milo do not represent the masses. Amory has no commitments and no career; her social life is her entire life it seems. In a lot of ways Amory could have become a boring character, instead I find her appealing, having an earnestness that one wouldn’t expect of a woman of her class. I also like the fact that crime solving is an outlet for Amory, a career of sorts. I would really like to see how this idea of Amory as an independent investigator will change through the series.
Death Wears a Mask is another wonderful adventure with the intrepid Amory Ames. The setting and its light mystery continues to charm as does its heroine and her relationship woes. This is the perfect read for those who like a more character-driven mystery, as well as much less focus on the procedure of solving the crime. Fans of the first book, you wont be disappointed.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
While I haven’t read either of my recommended similar reads, I decided to include them because they both appear to be similar to Death Wears a Mask in that they are more character-driven historical mysteries. They also feature lady-detectives. I have both checked out of the library, so hopefully I’ll be reading them sooner rather than later.
First up is Shelley Freydont’s A Gilded Grave, first in a new mystery series set in 1895 New York. It follows wealthy Deanna Randolph as she investigates the murder of maid, whose accused murderer turns out to be Deanna’s former suitor (he jilted her horribly, I sense some great tension here).
My second suggestion is Nancy Herriman’s No Comfort for the Lost. This is another American-set historical mystery, this time in 1860s San Francisco. This one features British-born Celia Davies, who also happens to be an experienced nurse. While I anticipate that this one will be a little bit heavier on the historical detail and it’s heroine will be less of an amateur than Amory, I still think it’s a good fit (or at least I’m hoping it will be). By all accounts, it has been getting great reviews.