Title: Deadly Scandal (Deadly 1)
Author: Kate Parker
Publication Date: 2016
1930’s London is teeming with intrigue and uncertainty. Although the Great War has ended, political unrest and an all-too-fresh memory of the past create a climate of unease and caution. Olivia Denis’ husband Reggie works in the Foreign Office. When he seemingly commits suicide, the police attribute it to his embarrassment at partaking in some, unknown treason and his accusations of adultery. Grief-stricken, Olivia is certain that it was not suicide because of his inability to shoot right-handed and vows to push for the truth.
In an effort to not have to return to her over-bearing and domineering father, Olivia approaches her old boarding school friend Esther to ask for her help in securing employment that would enable her to remain in her apartment. Esther’s father, Sir Henry Benton, is in the newspaper industry and agrees to give Olivia a job reporting on society and fashion, with one stipulation. On occasion, she may be asked to use her contacts in the Foreign Office and society to cover some special assignments. Unsure what these assignments might entail but desperate to be independent and free to search for her husband’s killer, Olivia accepts.
As she begins to talk with Reggie’s former colleagues and make contact with his solicitors, she quickly realizes that there was much to Reggie’s job and personal life of which she was unaware. She also realizes that many of Reggie’s former workmates and spouses also have secrets. As she continues to push and question, her interest definitely makes someone uncomfortable. Her home is broken into and she is shot at. Also complicating the situation is Captain Adam Redmond; friend or foe, Olivia isn’t quite sure. There is unrest on the continent but Olivia feels the turmoil much closer to home.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Parker’s Victorian Bookshop mystery series. This book seems to have the same type of protagonist; a strong, yet vulnerable, curious, yet naïve heroine. At a time when women working outside the home was becoming more acceptable, Olivia ventures out and tries to forge her own way. Her struggles at times are amusing but the author does a great job at having the reader feel her testing the waters with her new-found freedom. As Olivia discovers secrets about her deceased husband, she also learns a great deal about herself along the way, and the reader can’t help but root for her.
The setting of the book is so rich in history and intrigue. At the cusp of a world sliding again toward international conflict, the tension and uncertainty is palpable. I really enjoyed the blend of the historical facts and seeing how it played out in the everyday lives of the characters. With hindsight, it is easy for scholars of history to question how the general population could not be aware of the escalating conflict. I enjoyed how the author demonstrated how potential signs could be unnoticed in everyday life and struggles. Olivia’s job at the newspaper also creates an opportunity for her character to grow and develop and to be introduced to a different type of intrigue which, I hope, promises for more stories in the future.
Who might like this book:
I really think this is a very promising start to a new series and I look forward to more of Olivia’s adventures. I have never been a huge reader of World War I or World War II mysteries, but this time period between the wars is fascinating and I think there will be a lot of opportunities for further adventure.