Olive Belgrave is out of funds. Too attractive to get taken on as a governess and too unskilled to get taken on as a typist, she eventually receives the novel offer of private detective from her aunt. The mission? To find out more about her cousin Violet’s unsavory fiance, Alfred. His uncouth manners show he’s hiding something, but Violet is so enamored with him she doesn’t even question his vague past and lack of connections.
When Olive travels to Archly Manor to monitor the shady Alfred at a house party, it’s not long before murder ensues. Determined to protect her cousin’s reputation, Olive looks for her own clues alongside the Scotland Yard inspector only to uncover selfishness, secrets, blackmail, and other sordid details that point the finger in half a dozen directions. Will a trail of broken pearls lead the way? Can she find the murderer before death strikes again?
This well-crafted mystery kept me guessing till the very end. Olive is a likable protagonist with sound instincts and a commendable sense of family loyalty. Both her longtime friend Jasper (a languid society gentleman who knows where to dig up information) and the thorough Inspector Longly were sympathetic characters who, I trust, will make an appearance in the next installment of the series.
I couldn’t help comparing this book to Lauren Willig’s The Other Daughter, which is also set during the 1920s. Olive’s high society friend Jasper reminded me of Simon Montfort from Willig’s book. As an outsider trying to infiltrate the Bright Young Things, Olive’s own investigation was similar to the one Rachel conducted. But despite the similarities, the tone of these books was very different, with Sara Rosett penning a cohesive and compelling whodunnit while Lauren Willig’s book had a far more literary and romantic quality. Both books are great examples of 1920s historical fiction.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.