Title: Death Wears a Mask (Amory Ames 2)
Author: Ashley Weaver
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 2015
After capturing a murderer and almost being killed herself at Brightwell, Amory Ames is enjoying some quiet time at home. Her relationship with husband Milo seems to have arrived at a comfortable truce and she is hoping that his playboy ways have been calmed. Amory accepts an invitation for she and Milo to attend a dinner party at the home of the Barringtons. Mrs. Barrington was a friend of Amory’s mother and Amory is a bit surprised at the attempt at a renewed friendship after years apart. At the party, it becomes apparent that Mrs. Barrington has more need of Amory that just her presence. She pulls Amory aside as they progress into dinner, fiercely whispering to her that she should watch the guests.
Because of Amory’s success at Brightwell, Mrs. Barrington reveals to her that a number of her expensive and sentimental jewelry pieces have gone missing. Through careful research, she is able to eliminate the staff as suspects. Coincidentally, all the thefts have occurred on days when she has hosted dinner parties and all these dinner parties have included the same guests. Amory and Mrs. Barrington work together to lay a trap the next evening at a masquerade party given by one of the guests, Lord Dunmore. Lord Dunmore is charming and handsome and has almost as rakish a reputation of Milo. Mrs. Barrington plans to wear a paste version of an expensive sapphire bracelet to entice a theft and to then catch the villain in the act.
Milo is amused by Amory’s involvement but deems it more necessary to visit his club to discuss the purchase of a fine Arabian horse than attend the party. Unsure about Milo’s motivation and true intent, Amory arrives at the ball alone and the stage is set. Lord Dunmore takes great interest in Amory and when she slips on the stair and sprains her ankle, he is quick to whisk her off her feet and take her to a bedchamber to examine her foot. When Milo catches Amory with Lord Dunmore, he is nonplussed. However, the scene becomes dire when a shot is heard, and the body of Mrs. Barrinton’s nephew is found with the stolen jewels in his pocket.
Inspector Jones from Brightwell has been reassigned to Scotland Yard and once again asks for Amory’s insight on the guests. Amory agrees to help but quickly is overwhelmed by romantic conflicts, hidden agendas, and secret pasts. Milo also has seemed to take the opportunity to revert back to his old ways. Amory is unsure of who and what to trust because of the masks that people wear.
What a fantastic series!! This is book two and the setting has switched to the elite of London. Post World War I has invited a time of opulence and grandeur and the characters seem to have a life of lavish and leisure. However, dark secrets of betrayal, financial loss, and violence are hidden just below the surface. I really enjoy how the author describes this Golden Age while still laying the foundation of how the world will change in just a few short years. I look forward to watching how these conflicting themes will play out in future books.
I absolutely love the character of Amory. She is smart, refined, and elegant but her underlying sensitivity and humanity drive her actions. She definitely knows her role in society and her marriage and doesn’t outwardly rebel against the norms but she knows how to work the system behind the scenes. I appreciate her motivation in helping others as opposed to using the events just as a diversion. Once again, Milo is an enigmatic character; we see a bit more of who he is but there is still more brewing under the surface. I had a prediction as to what his character motivation was based on the first book and I was wrong; however, the author does provide some clues and I hope that more will be discovered in future books.
Who might like this book:
I have been reading a lot of books about World War I and the Golden Age right afterward; it is fascinating time in history and the series has set itself well into the manners and enigmas of the upper echelons of society. In some ways, Amory reminds me of a more “modern day” version of Lady Emily from Tasha Alexander’s series; they are both strong, intelligent women who understand the norms and customs of society but also how to use them to their advantage. Milo and Colin, however, are as different as can be!
You must read the first book, Murder at Brightwell, first. It is just wrong to read this series out of order. I am thrilled that the new Amory book, A Most Novel Revenge, is set for release on October 11, 2016. As further endorsement of this series, unlike the first two books, I am not waiting. I’m splurging on the hardback!!