Monday, January 12, 2015

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman: A Mystery by Tessa Arlen

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours/Netgalley
Read: January 8, 2015

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.

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They say first impressions are the most important, but I have to admit Tessa Arlen's Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman didn't make the most of the moment. I started the book on three separate occasions, each time setting it aside for something else. I don't mean to be harsh, Arlen's tone just didn't draw me in and had I not promised a review, I'm not sure I'd have stuck this one out. Thankfully, I'm a stubborn mule and I hate missing deadlines, so I dug in my heels the fourth go round determined to come out on top. 

I'm not sure when exactly, there was no definitive moment, but somewhere along the line I got into this piece. Stylistically, the novel never truly worked itself into my good graces, but I ended up liking the characters and story a lot more than I'd expected. Arlen's dry humor added to the feel of the novel and despite my initial disregard, I ultimately grew to appreciate where Arlen took this particular story. 

The highlight of the novel was undoubtedly the research Arlen put into it. Politics, contemporary culture, it's all there. Folded into the cracks and crevices of the story, the details she thought to include created a genuine ambiance that I'd never anticipated from a debut author. 

There is a certain refinement in Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, a form of storytelling that is far from common. I personally found it somewhat intimidating, but I urge readers to give it a chance, for it proved worthwhile in almost every respect. 

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“I can’t be the woman who is used as an example of indiscretion to future generations of silly girls.”
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Check Out All the Stops on Tessa Arlen's Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 5
Review at Reading the Past
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
Saturday, January 10
Sunday, January 11
Review at Buried Under Books
Monday, January 12
Tuesday, January 13
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
Monday, January 26
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
Friday, January 30
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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