Blog Book Tour | “Death Sits Down to Dinner” the 2nd novel of the Lady Montfort mysteries by Tessa Arlen

Posted Friday, 15 April, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Death Sits Down to Dinner” direct from the publisher Minotaur (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Edwardian delight and a note about ‘series in progress’:

Quite a well known fact, I’m mindful of dipping inside a series ‘in-progress’, as I much prefer at the very least read the ‘first story’ in sequence rather than miss the entrance of a lead character outright; however, as fate would have it – this time, my dear local library had a few too many eager readers who were all quite itching to read Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman at the *very same!* hour I was seeking it myself! Remember that ill-fated migraine of mine, from March? Oy. Yes, wells, a bit less than a fortnight before I succumbed to it, I double-checked to see if this title was available and/or if I would need to ILL (inter-library loan) a copy; finding there were no active holds on the title, I smiled and knew I had plenty of time to fetch it.

Never ever second guess when a good time to place a hold on a book – I learnt this lesson – as guess what happened after I recovered from said migraine?! A smidge shy of a dozen readers were all scrambling to read the book, and although I went down to placeholder No.1 it was already too late for me as I was 48 hours away from posting my review! *le sigh* Lesson being? If you find a wicked sweet copy of a book you know you will potentially need to read within the score of a month’s time, throw your name on it! Don’t wait! And, if case your curious – I cast my queue hold to the next in line!

Ergo, similar to how I’ve entered series previously either accidentally or without a time window to fetch the previous books by my library’s services, I shall entertain myself with the ‘second Lady Montfort mystery’ as if I were fashionably late and entering into her parlour with a smashing tale about missing my train and injuring my heel in a vain attempt to catch it before it left the station!

As far as the Edwardian era is concerned, I’ve become properly smitten by it, as you might have curiously peeked a glimpse over whilst reading my thoughts on behalf of Margaret Kaine’s Dangerous Decisions or noticed my outcry of displeasure at the turning of plots on behalf of Downton Abbey via my feeds on Twitter. I was so distraught by Matthew’s death and Anna’s violent attack (sorry if this spoilts it for you, but seriously, how else to explain?) I had to take a long sabbatical from viewing the latter two serials which conclude the saga. I’ve wandered inside the Edwardian years on a few occasions, finding my heart is aflutter for more of this unique era set at the start of the new century, where technology and society were each vying for independence and equal attention.

Technically, one of the Cosy Historical Mystery series I aim to snuggle back inside before year’s end (as I’m planning a bit of a wicked slice of cosy devourment this Summer) is the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander which happily resides on the verge of this era, as it’s set during the last bits of the 19th Century! (see this intriguing interview!) How this series has swelled to include novellas and eleven! novels, I know naught! A handful of years ago when I first set my eyes upon it, only four were published! And, the Lady Darby series I fancy quite equally to Lady Emily are set further ahead of the Edwardian era – which proves I’ve been dancing around the era for quite a long while! Further joy is realising there are going to be five Lady Darby mysteries awaiting my heart soon!

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Notation about Cover Art Design: The moxie it takes to self-assert such a title as ‘death sits down to dinner’ is what drew me into the hive of excitement to read this offering – in combination with the plot, as remember, titles & cover art aside if the plot holds not a wither of a curiosity it’s all art and words at that point! I love the how the designer used the typography to direct your attention the ‘action of the hour’ whilst giving you a fevering glimpse of the locale! This novel begs to be read!

Blog Book Tour | “Death Sits Down to Dinner” the 2nd novel of the Lady Montfort mysteries by Tessa ArlenDeath Sits Down to Dinner
by Tessa Arlen
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781250052506

Series: Lady Montfort mysteries


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 29th March, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 320

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

The first Lady Montfort Mystery | Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman (Synopsis)

Converse via: #DeathSitsDownToDinner, #HistoricalMystery & #LadyMontfortMysteries

About Tessa Arlen

Tessa Arlen

TESSA 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.

Appreciating the Acknowledgements:

I love finding the hidden little extra bits writers leave behind for us as they tuck inside a piece of their spirit and heart whilst composing their notes and/or Auxiliary inclusions. This time round, I must admit, I kept turning it over in my mind if I had known about the previous year’s blog tour featuring Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman or not; as mind you, it was quite a difficult year and either half my memory of books left unread is cast straight to the ethers of an unremembered void or I’m entirely fortunate to have struck up an acquaintance with this author and series on her sophomore release of it’s canon.

I felt like the hours had melted off the clock, and I could step onto the path Ms Arlen has been walking since her debut novel (this series opener) was released – her grace and her humbled awe at the readers who have discovered her story and felt a connection with them was wonderful to read. I don’t believe there is ever a proper and right time to start publishing your stories – except for when you personally feel your in the ‘season of publishing’ as I have oft mentioned my own hasn’t yet bloomed but my ‘season of book blogging’ is well underway!

Her note felt like a letter you’d receive from a dear friend, a welcoming glimpse of her gratitude and the lovely bits her journey has taken her towards as she watches her career flourish under the praise of readers who champion her words. This is every writer’s humble wish and I was quite charmed by the note and by the sentiment it revealled. It concludes with a delightful addition: a Cast of Characters to which I used to brief myself on the ‘whos and whoms’ whilst I entreated myself with the pleasure of finding out what has charmed the readers for over a twelvemonth!

The names of whom are lush and properly described in the full etiquette of the time, complete with one name I’ve fancied since 2001: Hermoine! Your not a visitor here, your an acquaintance whose happily re-connecting with everyone whilst being caught up inside the suspense of what caused the motive to drop a knife of a surprise at dinner!

My Review of Death Sits Down to Dinner:

Entering inside an Arlen novel is similar to returning home – there is cosy comfort appeal to reading her lushly descriptive narrative and feeling quite acquainted with your surroundings, even if at first glance you must remind yourself you’ve never had the pleasure of being here! Arlen writes with an authoritative understanding of her era but with the remarkable insight of one who knows what is keenly imperative to know about the lives both below and above stairs. She augments her transitions quite well as you seamlessly travel about the household, peering into conversations and settling inside this environment to understand what cause a murder most foul to even occur here.

The interplay of devotion and honest appreciation for each other was evident between Clementine and her lady’s maid Pettigrew, as their conversation was effortlessly entwined. They each respected their station but I felt Clementine might think a bit towards softening the distances as there was a takeaway about traditionalism vs newer standards. We gather a sense about who Clementine is from this vantage point, and surprisingly of note, she’s past ten and forty! It’s delightful to see a woman of her age being shined on as the lead character, as oft-times leads are played by younger women and/or girls who are just coming-of age into their maturity.

Overseeing how irked Clementine’s husband’s ire was stoked to a fever-pitch by the news of having to dine with Churchill was quite telling. The politics of the day were just as dire as they are by contemporary standards and just as quick to run into a quagmire when you had to bring everyone together and draw a line of peace rather than a tempered assault of differing opines. All of which plays out prior to their entrance to Hermoine’s infamous dinner party; where Clementine prays for a distraction for her husband.

In turn, it was Clementine who was distracted at the table, wooed a bit by the clarity of Churchill’s ability to steer the table’s attention to his voice and with a linear precision to distract an aviator to answer her questions about aeroplane safety protocols. For a dinner meant to be destructively difficult to duck political chatter, she instead found a way to further her own knowledge about things that interested her at time where she felt she’d die of boredom first. It was the drolling of stories long since told past their due and the repetitiousness of the whole affair that seemed to grate on her most.

Until of course, the dead was observed and everything in their socialite world unfolded into a chaotic clatterment of shocked cries and overwhelming shock for the physicality of seeing how wretched the dead truly was left to be found. I liked how Arlen encircled us with everyone’s reactions, letting us see who was coming and going, whilst in full sight of who might not have been there as well. It’s a mad scene for sure, but I loved the cosier side of the crime – where the drama of crime is softened a bit to focus on the emotional state of everyone present and the beginning of the investigation. Cosies are more enjoyable for me to read than any hard-boiled plot. Arlen raises the appeal with this story because she’s kept herself rooted in the historical backdrop of it’s setting and giving us a charming encounter with her characters.

One of the characteristics that is endearing on behalf of Clementine is how she twitches her thoughts together by thinking about everything whilst in full conversation with her husband. Of whom is exasperated by his wife’s cunning curiosity to sleuth and how she insists on dragging in their housekeeper to help due her bidding. I remembered from early-on having his character reflected as being ‘long suffering’ which elicited me to think of him as Richard to Hyacinth (from Keeping Up Appearances, BBC) wherein no matter what he could say to his wife, once her mind was set, there was no turning back. I loved how Clementine’s internal thoughts were in italics – as it helped separate her internal world from her living present. I think either he or Richard would contemplate the alternative, neither would leave their wives; but it’s how their independence drew their brows that bested them.

My impression about Mrs Jackson is a woman who knows her place but also, has a bit of a mirth of joy inside her for the job she carries out as a housekeeper. She loves doing her bit but also, she is old school in her beliefs that what your doing in service is for the betterment of your family who is your employ; she’s not one to tarnish the differences between city and country servants, but her first impressions on behalf of Clementine’s London staff did not bode well with her for their indecencies to take their duties more seriously. She has the weathered grace of a mature woman who loves hard work but also, a bit of levity interspersed with visiting friends or going shopping. In other words, she’s the complete opposite of Clementine who was bourne spontaneous and constantly thinking of doing things outside her station!

Taking on the sensibility of a woman who learnt through observation and had a keen mind to sleuth out the details, Clementine turnt over an ageless question about how man’s pursuit of progress can lend itself to catastrophe but also, how progress itself can bend society off of traditional modes of transportation, communication and the ways in which individuals connect to each other. A keenly insightful and well spoken forbearance on life in general. Once she set her mind to work on something, Clementine happily engages in ferreting out what she can find during the evening where everything was anything but ordinary.

Mrs Jackson and Clementine make such a great partnership, because one of them has not yet reconciled she has a fortitude of luck with sleuthing whereas the other, is so deliciously excited about sleuthing she cannot ponder much else! It’s the type of pairing you like finding inside a Cosy, because it lends well to seeing how two individuals with strong wit and sound mind can draw together to resolve something quite horrid whilst finding working on the puzzle behind the motives is where their joy most lies. Mrs Jackson was quite beside herself, you see, noting how easily her mind started to work out the details she was most curious about whilst trying to downplay her joy in noticing small snippets of clues being presented to her as she started to help Clementine’s friend Miss Kingsley (Hermoine) with her charity event.

I love reading intellectual cosies, where the empathsis is on the sociological aspects of the crime moreso than the grittier details of it. You get so enthralled by the scope of the setting and the rites of living during a generation out of history – the Edwardian era here is aptly described by it’s regulations of class and how little room there was for living outside it’s structures. It was a time of high stress for most in Europe, but mostly for Britons as war had not yet been declared but it was on the fringes of being a reality. Arlen makes note of this, by having a streaming dialogue about what is emerging forward on that front whilst remaining true to where her story resides. Arlen brings historical relevance to Death Sits Down to Dinner as she engages us on a fantastically cunning mystery you will not wish to put down!

On the writing style of Tessa Arlen:

Arlen possess such a wicked knowledge of her era of choice, you cannot help but become enamored with how she’s choosing to disclose it’s details! All the loveliness of the generation are present, but so too, are the honest truths about upstairs and downstairs living rituals and the woes which go along with lives working in conjunction with the expectations of the day. She has dreamt such a lovely presentation of the Edwardian era, it can stand on it’s own merits without too much direct interplay to other known exploits as it is a clever proposition of a series by it’s own rights. She choose to have her lead character portrayed outside of marrying age and alighted in a marriage where she has equality with her husband – to where she can speak her mind and live with a bit more freedom than was generally acceptable.

The way in which she articulates the service men and women whilst seguing back to the moments upstairs was done with a deft hand for understanding how to sequence and cross-sect the scenes to where you do not notice the transitions. It was such a lushly descriptive opening of chapters, I simply had to proclaim my joy on Twitter as I felt I might have had to take more than half the novel to feel as comfortable as I were on page 11 to be hugged inside the folds of a Lady Montfort mystery being that this is the second release, not the first! I duly appreciate writers who can augment their readers straight into the heart of their series without having to back-step and I can only hope as I get to read Death of a Dishonourable Gentlemen this Summer, I’ll find the continuity is not overly done but as gentle as the narrative envelopes you inside Death Sits Down to Dinner.

Enfolding inside this series is a treat for the senses because each chapter yields it’s own joy of revelation; I was quite transfixed first on Clementine’s point of view but then, with the addition of Mrs Jackson, I endowed myself to become delighted by her perspective, too! It’s equally fitting to find two strong women who approach life through different portals of insight and understanding are the two who are leading the series forward! I could not tuck myself out of the novel, save for needed sleep and rest as Arlen writes a tale that is charmingly addictive to read! Especially akin to those of us who are in love with Classical Literature and the manner in which those stories are told through wickedly long descriptive narratives and an arc of story that is not soon unwound to reveal it’s hidden truth! Definitely the type of story you can curl up inside, put on the kettle and happily sip tea whilst disappearing for half a moon’s cycle thoroughly elated for the visit!

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Follow the Virtual Road Map by visiting the blog tour route:

Death Sits Down to Dinner blog tour via HFVBTsFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comIf your unfamiliar with this series, I implore you to re-visit the blog tour in which granted an introduction to the characters & the series:

Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman blog tour via HFVBTsFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Death Sits Down to Dinner”, book synopsis, author biography and photograph, the blog tour banners for “Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman” and “Death Sits Down to Dinner”, the tour host badge & HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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