Review: Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley


Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.


This is a historical mystery which shows a great deal of research and thoroughness from the author. It is less of a whodunnit and more of a slow moving, character driven suspense. I especially enjoyed the delicious and lush imagery of the cook’s recipes and cooking and my mouth was watering the whole time I read.

I found myself to be slightly confused while reading – it reads like a sequel, but it is the first book in an upcoming series. There were certain plot points that I felt as if I’d missed or didn’t fully grasp. So I went through they whole book a bit confused, then learned in the afterword that the author had previously written a novella prequel to this story. So. For someone like me who enjoys reading series from the very beginning to understand the character development and full picture, this kind of threw me off. Not to say that it can’t be read as a stand alone, but if you feel the same as me, you may want to pick up the prequel first.

It was also frustrating not to learn the true identity of one of the main characters throughout the entire book – it ended a bit abruptly, and I feel it was a major plot point that was glossed over and would have really engaged the reader into picking up the next book in the series.

Thank you to Netgalley, Berkley and Jennifer Ashley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3 stars

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