I had really high hopes when I agreed to participate in the blog tour - and I was most definitely not disappointed. From the opening paragraph I was hooked and thoroughly immersed in the setting and the story.
The book begins as Edith Jackson, the housekeeper for Lord and Lady Montfort, is getting ready for a busy day of final preparations for the annual summer ball. The reader is introduced to the household, the servants and their roles and the family members. There are wonderful descriptions of the estate and the workings of the household. I really appreciated the attention to detail regarding the roles and expectations for every station as well as the dress and gardens.
Despite the beautiful surroundings, all is not well within the family. Lord Monfort's nephew, Teddy Mallory has gotten himself in trouble - again. Lord Montfort received a letter from the president of Oxford University and it pretty much ruined his day. This is the first in a line of problems regarding Teddy. He is not well liked - for good reason - as becomes apparent later in the book.
The family and friends all gather for a sparkling party and things seem to have gone perfectly - until the gruesome discovery the next morning. Lady Montfort is concerned about the investigation into Teddy's murder for personal reasons, and with the help of her inquisitive and clever housekeeper, they defy societal conventions and work discreetly to figure out who the murderer was.
I loved the subtle way in which Mrs. Jackson manages to make inquiries and listen to the gossip of the other servants - despite her first inclination to shut such gossip down immediately. This was one of those books that despite the urgency of the situation, I wanted to read slowly and savor the whole experience. The dialogue and settings were just wonderfully done and I loved the attention to societal expectations and the way both women were able to navigate around and within these expectations and still show that they were smarter and more intuitive than the officials investigating the crime.
I was pleasantly surprised that the author tackled some serious issues with the way servants were treated and thought of. I hadn't really expected her to address these issues, but she did, and did it well.
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman has become the book that I recommend to everyone. I think it would appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and particularly those who enjoy books about Edwardian England and those who watch Downton Abbey. I anticipate reading it again soon - just for the fun of it. I am also anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.