A Rogue’s Company
A Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery
June 8, 2021
Blurb: In Allison Monclair’s A Rogue’s Company, business becomes personal for the Right Sort Marriage Bureau when a new client, a brutal murder, two kidnappings, and the recently returned from Africa Lord Bainbridge threatens everything that one of the principals holds dear.
In London, 1946, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau is getting on its feet and expanding. Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are making a go of it. That is until Lord Bainbridge―the widowed Gwen’s father-in-law and legal guardian―returns from a business trip to Africa and threatens to undo everything important to her, even sending her six-year-old son away to a boarding school.
But there’s more going on than that. A new client shows up at the agency, one whom Sparks and Bainbridge begin to suspect really has a secret agenda, somehow involving the Bainbridge family. A murder and a subsequent kidnapping sends Sparks to seek help from a dangerous quarter―and now their very survival is at stake.
A Rogue’s Company by Allison Montclair begins with a brother and sister on a boat on an African lake when tragedy strikes. With that scene fresh in our minds, we find that Bainbridge family is under the scrutiny of an African man who is posing as a gardener. Why is he surveilling the Bainbridge family? What is his relationship to the brother and sister on the boat? What does all of this mean for for the match-making, mystery-solving duo of Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge? Especially when said gardener shows up at their business asking to be matched.
From the very first novel in the Sparks & Bainbridge series, The Right Sort of Man (see my review), I have been hooked by the unlikely duo of Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge. Sparks has a dark history, having been a spy during the WWII, and doing what needed to be done. Gwen, on the other hand, is an aristocrat whose husband, Ronnie, died during the war, which left her broken and battling her parents-in-law for her son. But she harbors a strength that is becoming more apparent as the novels go on, not to mention her knack for being able to tell immediately if someone is lying to her or not. Together they complement each other.
In A Rogue’s Company, we learn more about Lord Bainbridge and his dealings in Africa. But we learn even more about Lord Bainbridge and Lady Bainbridge as people. Montclair shows us just how human these people are, how multi-faceted. Individuals in these novels are not black and white, but layers of gray and ever-intriguing.
Amidst the mystery of a murdered man and his relationship to the Bainbridges, if there is indeed one, we learn more about Sparks’ past, the demons that she is dealing with. While Gwen is an ever-evolving character, Sparks is an onion. Layer after layer shows us so much about who she is and what she’s been dealing with and what she’s lost. So much excellent characterization!
The novel is fast-paced and, yes, I’ll use the ever review-worthy phrase: page-turning. This is easily a novel that you could pick up and read in a day, if life didn’t interfere. I enjoyed every single swish of the page.
If you are a mystery lover, especially one who loves historical mysteries, and haven’t read any in this series, give it a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I certainly haven’t been.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Note: A Rogue’s Company goes on sale on June 8. Enough time to catch up on the other books!
5 out of 5 butterflies