Audiobook review: Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
Kat Halloway is a downstairs cook, a position that gives her some authority, but she is still clearly a servant and is mostly happy with her place in life. Kat starts the book at a new post in the Mayfair residence of Lord and Lady Rankin. Just after she starts, a kitchen maid is found murdered in the larder, and soon Kat discovers cover up and a dangerous plot. Together with her friend, Daniel, who helped her out of a major jam in the previous year, and Lady Rankin’s eccentric sister, Cynthia, they work against time to save the Queen.
I do enjoy a good historical mystery, and the Kat Halloway series has been on my radar since the release of Death Below Stairs in 2018. I really enjoyed reading the story from the point of view of a downstairs cook, rather than the upstairs society, something new for me. Right from the start, the author draws me into Kat’s world with Kat’s keen observations and meticulous details of the kitchen and world around her. I love hearing how Kat prepares meals and goes about her day. Yet, certain facts and details are doled out over time, leaving the listener wanting to know more and more about Kat.
While the mystery is interesting and exciting, Kat’s personal life really completes the story for me. First, she has a daughter, and I adore how much Kat loves Grace. I love how the author walks us through the range of emotions Kat experiences with and around Grace. I also love the romantic undertones and Daniel’s affection for Kat.
Narration: Kat’s story is shared via her first person POV. The narrator provides a strong, working class female British accent, very suiting to Kat’s role. The narrator changes up her performance for dialogue. She is most successful with the other females and the working class characters. I found her “upstairs” males not as good and a bit goofy sounding – like she was trying to be “snooty.” Each character is unique, and she does a good job with age.
In the end, I enjoyed Death Below Stairs quite a lot. The mystery is interesting, and I like that there are threads that are left open for the next book.
About the Book:
Highly sought-after cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is fine with the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her assistant is murdered. Afraid for her life, Kat turns to the mysterious Daniel McAdam for help. Daniel takes a position in the house as a footman and stand-in valet so that he can investigate covertly, but Kat cooks up a suspect list of her own. Together, they uncover crime in places low and high, including a plot that may threaten even Queen Victoria herself.
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Narrator: Anne-Marie Piazza
Series: Kat Holloway Mysteries #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Audiobook Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
Audio Speed: 1.3x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)