Review of The Lady from Burma by Allison Montclair @MinotaurBooks

Bainbridge and Sparks are back for another twisty mystery!

Blurb: In the immediate post-war days of London, two unlikely partners have undertaken an even more unlikely, if necessary, business venture – The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. The two partners are Miss Iris Sparks, a woman with a dangerous – and never discussed – past in British intelligence and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, a war widow with a young son entangled in a complicated aristocratic family. Mostly their clients are people trying to start (or restart) their lives in this much-changed world, but their new client is something different. A happily married woman has come to them to find a new wife for her husband. Dying of cancer, she wants the two to make sure her entomologist, academic husband finds someone new once she passes.

Shortly thereafter, she’s found dead in Epping Forest, in what appears to be a suicide. But that doesn’t make sense to either Sparks or Bainbridge. At the same time, Bainbridge is attempting to regain legal control of her life, opposed by the conservator who has been managing her assets – perhaps not always in her best interest. When that conservator is found dead, Bainbridge herself is one of the prime suspects. Attempting to make sense of two deaths at once, to protect themselves and their clients, the redoubtable owners of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau are once again on the case.

Purchase Links:
Amazon | (independent book store source)

I don’t think my summer reading would be complete without a visit to post WWII England where the duo of Bainbridge and Sparks run a marriage bureau, which seems to be more of a front for a free detective agency. Here we are with the fifth (fifth?! Time flies!) installment in the series, The Lady from Burma.

While Iris and Gwen are quite used to unusual events, they are suitably nonplussed when a woman comes to them to find a wife for her husband. It turns out that the woman is dying of cancer and loves her husband so much and knows how dependent he is on her that she wants to make certain that his future is taken care of. Gwen observes something in the woman’s demeanor that makes her think that she intends to die before the cancer can kill her. Gwen convinces her that one shouldn’t lose any moments that one has left and secures a promise from the woman to live out her days however many they may be.

When the same woman is found dead in a nearby forest, Gwen’s first reaction is that the pain from the cancer became too much. But when Iris and Gwen take in the scene, they observe several implausible features that point to the fact that there was foul play involved. Was it the husband? Or someone else?

Meanwhile, Gwen is getting ready for the trial that will determine her legal future, whether she is mentally competent to take care of her son and take her part in the family business that was left to her upon the death of her husband. But nothing is straightforward in the world of Sparks & Bainbridge and Gwen and Iris become involved in another mystery in which money disappears from Gwen’s income every month.

I feel like this brief plot description is just the tip of the iceberg regarding everything that takes place in Allison Montclair’s wonderful ride, The Lady from Burma. This was one of the novels that engrossed me from the first page and made me not want to put it down.

As always, the writing and the mystery are smart with a good deal of humor thrown in. Everything about this book and series is just so satisfying, especially if you enjoy historical mysteries.

Many thanks to Minotaur Books and Netgalley for providing me with a copy for an honest review.

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