The Secret of Bow Lane, by Jennifer Ashley

August 19, 2022 Book Reviews 11 ★★★★★

The Secret of Bow Lane, by Jennifer AshleyThe Secret of Bow Lane by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway #6
Published by Berkley on August 2, 2022
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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five-stars
Also in this series: A Soupçon of Poison, Death Below Stairs, Murder in the East End, Death at the Crystal Palace
Also by this author: A Soupçon of Poison, Death Below Stairs, Murder in the East End, Death at the Crystal Palace

In Victorian-era London, amateur sleuth and cook Kat Holloway must solve a murder to claim an inheritance she didn’t know she had in a riveting new historical mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Death at the Crystal Palace.

A stranger who appears on Kat's doorstep turns out to be one Charlotte Bristow, legal wife of Joe Bristow, the man Kat once believed herself married to—who she thought died at sea twelve years ago. Kat is jolted by Charlotte’s claims that not only was Joe murdered, but he had amassed a small fortune before he died. Charlotte makes the cook an offer she cannot refuse—if Kat can discover the identity of Joe's murderer, Charlotte will give her a share of the fortune Joe left behind.

With the help of Daniel McAdam, her attractive and charismatic confidante, Kat plunges into her own past to investigate. When it becomes apparent that the case of Joe’s death goes far deeper than simple, opportunistic theft, Kat and Daniel's relationship is put to the test, and Kat herself comes under scrutiny as her connection to Joe is uncovered. She must race to catch the real killer before she loses her job and possibly her life.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

In The Secret of Bow Lane, we finally find out more about Kat’s “husband” and that part of her early life, as well as the secret of Daniel’s past. I’ve been waiting for this, and for Kat and Daniel’s relationship to develope a bit more, and this book really delivered on the promises of previous books. Not that everything is resolved—far from it! Indeed, for a little while, I worried along with Kat that their relationship was irretrievably broken. But things are a bit clearer now, for both of them.

Kat is stunned when her bigamous husband’s first wife turns up to ask her to find out who murdered Joe. As far as Kat knew, he had died at sea some 13 years ago. But Charlotte insists that Joe was murdered, and he may have left a fortune behind. She offers Kat a share if Kat can find it, and Kat reluctantly agrees.

While the mystery surrounding Joe’s death and the missing “fortune” was certainly interesting and kept me guessing for quite a while, my interest was focused more on the unveiling of Kat’s and Daniel’s pasts. In Kat’s case, of course, the two are obviously intertwined. Daniel’s past doesn’t really have any bearing on the current investigation, but as always, his contacts and his unofficial involvement in law enforcement are useful. We also find out a bit more about Daniel’s shadowy boss, Monaghan, and my word, he’s a nasty piece of goods!

There are a lot of wonderful moments along the way, particularly with some of the secondary characters like Kat’s daughter Grace, her friend Lady Cynthia, Mr. Davis the butler, and Daniel’s former “brother” Mr. Fielding, a vicar with a decidedly shady past. I loved seeing Grace’s growing confidence and maturity, for all that she is still a young girl. The way she now comforts her mother when they have to part, instead of the other way around, speaks volumes about their loving relationship, and reminded me a little of my relationship with my own mother at that age. Lady Cynthia is always a delight, though I can’t help but wonder how long she will remain oblivious to Mr. Thanos’s feelings.

I find it impossible to read this series without getting hungry, specifically for all the delicious goodies Kat and her assistant concoct. The food porn in all the books is really mouthwatering! Thankfully, I had a few homemade cherry scones in the freezer, so I defrosted two and had them with tea while I thought about this review. (They were delicious!)

I will gladly recommend the Kat Holloway series to anyone who loves historical mysteries, but as much as I loved this installment, this book is probably not the best place to start. Ms. Ashley does her best to fill you in on the necessary information, but a lot of the enjoyment depends on your knowledge of and emotional investment in the recurring characters—not only Kat and Daniel, but Lady Cynthia, Thanos, Grace, and even Daniel’s son James, though he doesn’t appear in this book much. Do yourself a favor, and start with book one, Death Below Stairs (review), or even with the prequel novella, A Soupçon of Poison (review).

*****

I buddy-read The Secret of Bow Lane with Sophia Rose, who posts reviews over on Books of My Heart. We had a wonderful time discussing the book and fangirling over the series in general. I had thought to share some of our discussion, but it was much too full of spoilers, so I decided to refrain. But I wanted to thank Sophia for a great discussion! If you’d like to read her review, you can find it here.

five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Seasons 2022: Summer

11 Responses to “The Secret of Bow Lane, by Jennifer Ashley”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      It’s a good series, with really engaging characters and interesting mysteries. And I love how it looks at Victorian society from the working-class POV.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      The series has held up remarkably well. I think there was one that I thought was a little weaker than the others, but on the whole, I have enjoyed them immensely.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I suppose it is technically a cozy series, since there’s an amateur detective and on-page violence is rare. It’s more serious than the light, humorous contemporory cozies that are popular now, though. (Not that I have anything against those; I’m just distinguishing between styles.) Ms. Ashley pays close attention to historical customs and mores, and I really appreciate how the series is told, not from the POV of a member of the upper crust, but from someone who is not only working-class, but in domestic service. Kat is very aware of class, both social and economic, and the inequities associated with it. (But the series is also a lot of fun.)

  1. Katherine

    I have the one before this to read before I get to this one and am looking forward to both. I’ve really enjoyed this series and love all the characters. I love that this one explores a bit more of Kat’s past. And yes the food porn! Every time I read one of these books I find myself wanting to cook!

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