01_Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Minotaur Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Mystery
Soure: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

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Lady Montfort has been planning her annual summer costume ball for months, and with scrupulous care. Pulling together the food, flowers and a thousand other details for one of the most significant social occasions of the year is her happily accepted responsibility. But when her husband’s degenerate nephew is found murdered, it’s more than the ball that is ruined. In fact, Lady Montfort fears that the official police enquiry, driven by petty snobbery and class prejudice, is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect.
Taking matters into her own hands, the rather over-imaginative countess enlists the help of her pragmatic housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case, track down the women that vanished the night of the murder, and clear her son’s name. As the two women search for a runaway housemaid and a headstrong young woman, they unearth the hidden lives of Lady Montfort’s close friends, servants and family and discover the identity of a murderer hiding in plain sight.
In this enchanting debut sure to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, Tessa Arlen draws readers into a world exclusively enjoyed by the rich, privileged classes and suffered by the men and women who serve them. Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is an elegant mystery filled with intriguing characters and fascinating descriptions of Edwardian life—a superb treat for those who love British novels.
A Party for Winston, the second book in the series to be released in January 2016.

My Take:
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.

Praise for Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman

“Tessa Arlen has a worthy debut with Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman. With a deliciously gruesome murder and an unlikely pair of sleuths, this is a treat for fans of Downton Abbey who will want to devour it with a nice steaming pot of Earl Grey.” —New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn
“In her debut novel, Tessa Arlen weaves an evocative tale of the passions, loyalties and ambitions that divide and unite two classes, upstairs and downstairs, in a stately home. She instantly transports the reader to Edwardian England.”—Christine Trent, author of Stolen Remains
“A dash of noblesse oblige sparkles between the upstairs/downstairs world of Lady Montfort and her housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, as they work together to unmask the identity of a killer at large on the Montfort’s country estate. As sharp as a Nancy Mitford novel, Tessa Arlen’s sophisticated Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman deserves its place among the Great and the Good of classic mystery.”—Lyndsy Spence, founder of The Mitford Society and author of The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life.
“Thoroughly enchanting. Arlen’s debut will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, with its vivid descriptions, firm grip on the intricacies of the time period, and skilled portrayal of the often complicated relationship between upstairs and downstairs.” —Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby mystery series

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About the Author

02_Tessa ArlenTESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.
For more information please visit Tessa Arlen’s website. Read Tessa Arlen’s blog at Redoubtable Edwardians. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Subscribe to Tessa Arlen’s Newsletter.

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 5
Review at Reading the Past
Review at Back Porchervations
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, January 6
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Spotlight & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, January 7
Review & Giveaway at To Read, Or Not to Read
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Friday, January 9
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Guest Post on The Writing Desk
Review at Back Porchervations
Saturday, January 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Sunday, January 11
Review at Buried Under Books
Monday, January 12
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, January 13
Review at Girl Lost in a Book
Interview at Back Porchervations
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, January 14
Review & Giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, January 15
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, January 16
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Monday, January 19
Review at Beth’s Book Book
Tuesday, January 20
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, January 21
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Thursday, January 22
Review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Monday, January 26
Review at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, January 27
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, January 28
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, January 29
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, January 30
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Saturday, January 31
Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
Monday, February 2
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, February 3
Spotlight at I Heart Reading
Thursday, February 5
Review at Layered Pages
Friday, February 6
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
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