Thursday, August 6, 2020

In today's spotlight I'm joining 
Berkley Mystery 
in celebrating the release of  
Book 4 in the Below Stairs Mysteries
by Jennifer Ashley

Murder in the East End (A Below Stairs Mystery Book 4) by [Jennifer Ashley]

A new upstairs, downstairs Victorian murder mystery in the Kat Holloway series from the New York Times bestselling author of Death in Kew Gardens.
When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London's Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can't turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined.

MURDER IN THE EAST END by Jennifer Ashley

Hi, and thanks for having me as a guest on the blog.

As a historical mystery novelist, you might guess I love to read anything historical—biographies, histories, historical fiction and romance, and most of all, historical mysteries.

I glom hist/myst. I think it’s the best genre, because not only can I indulge my love of historical details (I need to know what ancient Roman gladiators really ate every day—spoiler: it wasn’t meat), but I can indulge in a great mystery and follow characters of the time period of choice.

I also love hist/myst because investigation procedures were different (and yet, in many ways the same). Victorian police detectives couldn’t rely on DNA evidence, or even blood samples in most cases, and fingerprinting was in its infancy. The investigators had to use questioning, witness statements, clues found at the scene of the crime (if no one had tampered with them), and then puzzle things out.

I write several historical mystery series, including the Kat Holloway Below Stairs mysteries featuring a Victorian cook. (Murder in the East End, Book 4, released August 4). Lately in my own reading I’ve been finding some fantastic new-to-me historical mystery series that I’d like to mention. All were first published a few years ago but are still going with new installments to date.

I’ll start with Maureen Ash, The Templar Knight Mystery series. Book 1 is The Alehouse Murders. This series follows Bascot de Marins, a Templar Knight who is in Lincoln, England, recuperating from imprisonment during a crusade. It’s 1200 AD, the time of King John. Bascot is the guest of Nicolaa de la Haye, wife of the sheriff, and she asks his help discovering who murdered several travelers in an alehouse. The search takes de Marins into the scandalous lives of local noblemen but also gives him a sense of purpose again. The historical detail in this medieval series is amazing but doesn’t overwhelm the characters or story.

I love settings that range far from Britain or the US, so I’ll next recommend Susan Spann’s Shinobi series, set in Kyoto in the 1560s. Book 1 is The Claws of the Cat. The main character is Hiro, ostensibly a samurai in disgrace but really a ninja, who has been assigned the post of translator and bodyguard for a Portuguese Jesuit priest, Father Mateo. The pair solve the mystery of a samurai killed in a teahouse by pooling their vastly different world views. A wonderful glimpse into Japan in the samurai era. I lived in Japan, and I enjoy revisiting it (albeit far in the past) in these books.

Harriet Steel’s Inspector de Silva mysteries are set in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1930s. Book 1 is Trouble in Nuala. The series follows Shanti de Silva, a native of Ceylon, who has been assigned as the police inspector for a small (fictional) town called Nuala. He hopes for a peaceful spot where nothing happens, but of course, a prominent colonial plantation owner is soon murdered, and Shanti has to investigate. Shanti is married to an Englishwoman, Jane, whom he loves dearly (but English food—not so much!). The pair help solve the murder, while the book reveals many details about life in Ceylon in during British colonial rule.

Last, I’ll talk about another series set in Asia by Ovidia Yu, who writes about 1930s Singapore in The Frangipani Tree Mystery (Book 1). The story is told from the point of view of a young Chinese woman, Su Lin, the granddaughter of a Chinese matriarch, who is trying to find a place for herself in a world in transition. More or less hired by the English Chief Inspector Le Froy as an assistant, she's on the spot when a murder occurs at the colonial governor's house. Su Lin moves into the house, both to investigate and to take care of the mentally challenged daughter she pities, and quickly becomes enmeshed in the scandals and secrets of the governor's family. This is a fascinating look at the life of Singapore under British rule, from the eyes of Singaporeans. (Ovidia Yu has another series set in modern Singapore, the Aunty Lee series, which I also recommend).

A great historical mystery not only delivers a good whodunit plausible for the time period, but takes the reader into the past and to a place in detail so satisfying you swear you’ve been there.

While writing my own Below Stairs series in Victorian London, I like to take breaks and travel all over the world and through time with other historical mysteries.

Jennifer Ashley

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance, mysteries, and historical fiction as Jennifer Ashley; paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Allyson James; and mysteries as Ashley Gardner. Jennifer's books have had starred reviews in Booklist and Publisher's Weekly, and have been translated to many languages.

For information on her novels as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James visit Also see (Ashley Gardner) for her other works.

Available now!

Murder in the East End (A Below Stairs Mystery Book 4) by [Jennifer Ashley]

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  1. Happy Thursday, Lisa!
    Pat T.

  2. Thank you for introducing me to a new to me author. I'll be checking this one out as well as this great sounding book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net