Series: Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins #1
Published by Macmillan on 2014-09-23
Genres: Historical Mystery
Source: the publisher
Add to Goodreads
Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins make an incomparable pair of sleuths in the start of a delightful new series.
Following her successful appearance at an Embassy Ball—where Eliza Doolittle won Professor Henry Higgins’ bet that he could pass off a Cockney flower girl as a duchess—Eliza becomes an assistant to his chief rival Emil Nepommuck. After Nepommuck publicly takes credit for transforming Eliza into a lady, an enraged Higgins submits proof to a London newspaper that Nepommuck is a fraud. When Nepommuck is found with a dagger in his back, Henry Higgins becomes Scotland Yard’s prime suspect. However, Eliza learns that most of Nepommuck’s pupils had a reason to murder their blackmailing teacher. As another suspect turns up dead and evidence goes missing, Eliza and Higgins realize the only way to clear the Professor’s name is to discover which of Nepommuck’s many enemies is the real killer. When all the suspects attend a performance of Hamlet at Drury Lane, Eliza and Higgins don their theatre best and race to upstage a murderer.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Wouldn’t It Be Deadly is delightful! I admit I was initially a little skeptical – Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins as amateur detectives?! But it works beautifully. The mystery plot is well-crafted, with plenty of red herrings and twists and turns. The authors are scrupulously fair when it comes to clues; they don’t hide anything from the reader, but I’ll be surprised if you spot the real murderer among all the potential ones. The story gets off to a slightly slow start, but once the victim turns up dead, things move along briskly but with plenty of time to enjoy the characters and setting.
And the characters, of course, are the real draw here. All of Shaw’s well-known characters from Pygmalion (and My Fair Lady) are here, and the characterization is nearly pitch-perfect. Eliza has all the spunk and fire she shows in the play, and her dialog veers believably from genteel young lady to Cockney flower seller depending on the situation. Prof. Higgins displays the same mix of insufferable arrogance and a growing fondness and admiration for his (now former) student; his mannerisms and speech are well-matched to the man I know from the play. Colonel Pickering is convincingly kind and avuncular, and the professor’s mother is strong-minded, sympathetic, and often exasperated with her son, just as she is in the books. Even Mrs. Pierce, the long-suffering housekeeper, Eliza’s father Albert, and the feckless Freddy Eynsford-Hill are true to type.
But for all their consistency with those in Shaw’s play, the characters aren’t static. Ireland has given them more depth, more complexity, fleshed out their backgrounds (at least in Eliza and Higgins’s cases) and allowed them to grow. And she introduces new characters: the various suspects, many of whom, like Eliza, have risen above their origins. At least one of these, a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard, is likely to become a regular in the series.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I’m already plotting to give it to one or two friends for Christmas. I’ll be on the lookout for book two — and I hope I don’t have to wait too long!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2014
Selah @ A Bibliophile's Style
Oh, I love My Fair Lady! I’m adding it to my Covered Up in Cozies TBR for this a Winter. 🙂
Selah @ A Bibliophile’s Style recently posted…Weekly Recap: October, 2014 – Week #1
This is definitely worth reading!
Rita @ My Home of Books
Sounds so good! I remember I had the LP album of My Fair Lady as a child and played it constantly. I never read the book though, but maybe I should and then read this next.
Thanks for a wonderful review!
Rita @ My Home of Books recently posted…Weekly Wrap-Up 10/4-10/6/14
We had the LP, too! And I read the original play (Pygmalion) in college, as part of one of my theater history courses, I think.
Bea @Bea's Book Nook
I have doubts about Henry and Eliza as amateur sleuths but the set-up sounds beleivable and if you like, I’ll give it a chance.
Bea @Bea’s Book Nook recently posted…Jax & Bea Review Black Water by Faith Hunter
I had doubts, too, but once I got into the book I was pleasantly surprised. 🙂
Tressa @ Wishful Endings
The cover and your review sounds like this story would be so much fun! Thanks for the review!
It really was fun, Tressa! I hope you get a chance to read it.
Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
I had such high hopes for this book and I’m glad to see that it didn’t disappoint! I’m hoping to get my copy soon. Really excited to read it now!
Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…Going Home – Review
I hope you enjoy it! I’ll keep an eye out for your review. 🙂