Murder In Belgravia by Lynn Brittney
The first in the exciting new Mayfair 100 series of nostalgic crime sagas.
Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially formed crimebusting team based in a house in Mayfair, London in 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services.
Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is tasked with investigating the murder of an aristocrat. The man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen.
As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes.
Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?
The novel opens with a confession and a problem…
Lady Harriet makes an emotional and desperate confession to murder. However, due to her society class and position, she refuses to elaborate unless she is allowed to speak to a female. This causes quite a conundrum for Chief Inspector Peter Beech, as there are no females currently on the staff.
Eventually, Peter is able to negotiate the formation of a new team, which will include an unlikely bunch of amateur detectives. Met Commissioner Sir Edward Henry is reluctant to agree, believing females have no place in the police force. Can the team prove him wrong?
The team is formed, it includes Caroline aka Dr Allardyce a young woman who has already defied her class, taking a role in the medical profession treating women. PC Billy Rigsby aka ‘The Creek’ a young and novice police officer. Retired Detective Sargent Arthur Tollman re-recruited back to the police force due to lack of man power with the war. And finally Caroline, a lawyer with an eye for mystery and an old flame of Peter’s.
‘Times had changed with a vengeance and the police force had a long way to go to catch up’
Lady Harriet’s physical condition worsens and it becomes apparent to Caroline and Peter, that she would have lacked the physical wellbeing and strength to commit the murder of her husband Lord Mucheson.
So who killed the Lord?
The team must dig into the private lives of the Lord and Lady and their serving staff. Can they gain the trust of the upper classes and the serving staff? Or will the culprit remain at large?
The historical depth within the novel is insightful, accurate and really enhances the story as a whole. We learn about the impact of the great war on the mental wellbeing of the returning soldiers, the injured and the families left waiting for answers.
Recently I watched author Marlon James give a talk at Oxford Uni about JRR Tolkein; within the talk he breaks down the difference emotionally and on the male psyche between the great war and world war 2. It is easy to see, how this could provide ample inspiration for historical fiction writing and Lynne Brittney does not disappoint, at all!
The novel also touches upon the discrimination women faced in the early days of their relationship with the Met. Ironic really, given that now in 2019 the met is now ran by a female!
Rich in historical detail with a real sense of the era. 1915 is brought alive on the page and I was so pleased to learn this is the first in a new series! 5*
A Death In Chelsea by Lynn Brittney
Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially-formed crime fighting team based in a house in Mayfair.
A call comes through to Mayfair 100, where the intrepid team of investigators eagerly await their next case. A society gossip queen has been found hanged in her room in mysterious circumstances. Her enemies are numerous – and her family are convinced she was murdered.
Can the group uncover the truth?
The novel offers a brief introduction for those readers whom may not have had chance to devour Murder In Belgravia. It does cover the necessary facts, but I am glad I had the chance to read the first in the series as there is four individual characters that form the team and each have great background stories.
July 1915, Chief Inspector Peter Beech is summoned to the office of the met commissioner. There he is introduced to the case which forms the basis of this novel The death of society ‘it girl’ Lady Adeline Treborne. Her mother the Duchess of Penhere, believes it to be a murder…
Adeline was estranged from her family due to the scandalous nature of her profession.
‘Whoever heard of a society columnist who never actually went to any of the events she wrote about’
We are briefly introduced to a new team member Miss Mabel Summersby. I really loved the introduction of a new female team member and I hope the author continues to layer the novels with more intriguing characters.
Adeline’s post mortem brings more mystery to the case and we are left to wonder, who do you solve the death of a woman, many had motive to kill?
Is Adeline the most hated person in all of London?
The team must dig into the pasts of Adeline’s family and those that knew her.
This novel shines a spotlight onto the working relationship between team members Tollman and Billy. I really loved the mix-up of the old and new police tactics and their ability to create funny moments within the novel.
The novel covers differing themes to Murder In Belgravia with blackmail, hidden desires, secrets and hushed up crimes playing a central role in Adeline’s career success…
A real sense of the team spirit and impressive characterisation. 5*
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