Wednesday, July 19, 2017

TBR Challenge: MC Beaton - Hasty Death

Lady Rose Summer refuses to abide by her parents' insistence that she marry. Even more distressing, she wants to become self-supporting by moving out with her maid Daisy and going to work in trade. On advice from Captain Harry Cathcart-a noble-born private investigator who knows the independent-minded Rose all too well-the Earl and Countess of Hadshire agree to let Lady Rose work as a typist and live in a women's hostel.
Eager to join the working classes, Lady Rose abandoned the comforts of her parents' home. But life as a working woman isn't quite what Rose had imagined---long hours as a typist and nights spent in a dreary women's hostel are not very empowering when you're poor, cold, and tired. Luckily for Rose, her drudgery comes to a merciful end when she learns of the untimely death of an acquaintance.
Freddy Pomfret, a silly and vacuous young man, was almost certainly up to no good before he was shot dead in his London flat. When she inadvertently discovers that recently-murdered playboy Freddy Pomfret was a blackmailer, and she also discovers incriminating evidence pointing to several members of her class, she returns to London high society in order to investigate properly. With the help of Captain Harry Cathcart and Superintendent Kerridge of Scotland Yard, Rose prepares to do the social rounds---uncovering a devious blackmail plot and an unexpected killer.

Comment: This is another post which belongs to the TBR Challenge I'm participating in, hosted by Wendy, the SuperLibrarian. July is dedicated to the Series Catch-Up theme and this time around I chose the second installment of a four titles series. I've read the first book in the beginning of the year and I really liked it, so this was not a difficult choice.

In this second installment, Lady Rose Summer is dedicated to be an independent working woman, master of her own destiny and somehow, along with the help of captain Harry Cathcart, whom she met in the previous book, her parents allow Rose to try for a few months while they go on a vacation for Nice. However, the situation isn't as easy as Rose imagined, for living of one's paycheck isn't the same as having all the comforts of home. Along with Rose, is her new maid/friend Daisy and things seem to go well when it comes to teaching Rose a lesson until an almost tragedy is avoided and rose starts to realize some things.
At the same time, a new death happens to someone Rose and Harry and we knew from the previous book. Of course, again Rose decides she wants to help Harry's investigation and once more, she finds herself in trouble...

For those who haven't read this series, this is an historical mystery series featuring Harry Cathcart, a clever military man who came from war needing to support himself despite being the son of a baron. Being in trade however, makes him not very worthy in society's eyes but that doesn't stop them from using his skills as an investigator. That is how he met Lady Rose's family and helped them in the previous book. Now the two meet again for the same reason and again, there is a murder investigation to solve too.

As it happened with the first book, I liked reading this one quite a lot. There's humor in the book, but it's not forced, and it can be subtle, it just seems to work out well for me. The murder investigation isn't too complex nor filled with missed calls or twists, it's a rather simple but well thought plot and the murderer someone not too obvious but who doesn't come from nowhere either. I like how we also get the domestic side of things along with the mystery and both are connected quite well.

Harry and Rose are a case we could almost say a matter of opposites attract. Lady Rose knows her place (sort of) but she hopes and wishes for independence and adventure and she has always imagined a husband would put a stop on that (the way her parents didn't do, actually). She likes Harry but there's a certain sense of entitlement to her which doesn't let her be as genuine or as friendly with him as we would like. Personally, this side of her is what I disliked the most because she also has other characteristics I am fond of in her personality.
Harry is used to life, he brought a lame leg from the war and some depression which he mostly ignores when he's busy and working and investigating. He likes Rose but they are not in the place where they can tell each other the sort of things we, as romance readers, would like them to say. Harry is proud and he wouldn't do anything unless he is certain of that. I really like Harry, he is not complicated, he doesn't care about what others think for the most part but he is kind and tries to help. I'm looking for to the book where they finally give in and admit their attraction and - eventually - marry. At least this is where the story is obviously moving to in terms of romance.

The writing is also simple and without much fuss. I enjoyed reading the story, reading between the lines and getting a very accurate POV throughout the novel about all characters and their motivations. This isn't a big book, it's not a complicated or melodramatic plot but it does bring a lot to infer and I liked how I could follow things quite easily without needing a chart with connections and stuff like that we sometimes could use in bigger and more complex mysteries.

This story features some interesting characters. It's very interesting how each one can sort of represent an idea or a concept without being so obvious that it would make them a cliché (for instance we have a vegetarian character and that does make us think about it and how people saw it in an historical context). There are several situations that touch the class system, the difference between types of poverty, the often seen stat of society values and morals and such but never in a preaching tone nor in a way that would make us think the purpose of the book was to think of that and not the mystery.

If one were to compare to other historicals, certainly this one wouldn't feel as correct/formal or serious, but I think it's very charming and has many aspects to convince the readers they are spending their time well.
The secondary characters work out pretty well too and I was very eager to see what would happen next. I can understand why it doesn't work for many people and after reading other books in the genre - and not enjoying some - I agree it could be better in some aspects like editing and the murder solving but overall, for me it was quite enjoyable. Maybe best to read the books in order considering some situations mentioned might be difficult to imagine without previous knowledge.

The end was good enough, the important things when it comes to Harry and Rose aren't solved but there two more books to go and I'm very happy to think I still have them to enjoy.
As for recommendations, those who like the "cozy mystery" type of book will probably like this series.
Grade: 8/10


  1. This historical mystery series has not come under my radar. It sounds quite interesting. Does the romantic plot remain unsolved? I mean, is the HEA not expected until the fourth book?

    1. Hello!
      I actually liked the first book but there's a certain nonsense/silly comedy style in some situations which might be unappealing for some readers. I liked it.

      Well, it's obvious how the romance is going to end. But yes, it seems the final HEA will only happen on the last book. :)