For those of you suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal, or who can't wait for the next Vera Stanhope outing, or both, I may suggest a few titles? These books concern the murderous doings both above and below stairs, and servants play a large part in the mystery. All of them are also recent arrivals, so get the jump on both new and continuing series.
The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (yes, that Jessica Fellowes) finds Louise Cannon looking to go into service as an alternative to dire prospects in London. Unfortunately, there's a murder on the train to her new position, and Louise realizes she may have seen something. As it turns out, the family Louise is to serve are the Mitfords and the oldest daughter, Nancy, has a hankering for sleuthing. Based on true events and people and full of post-WWI ambiance, this is hopefully the start of a new series.
Kat Holloway is the intrepid protagonist of Jennifer Ashley's Death Below Stairs. As cook to Lord Charles Rankin, she is prepared for almost any situation, but the murder of her assistant is pushing it. Joining forces with Lord Charles' cross-dressing sister and a true-blue delivery man, Kat sets out to bring the wrongdoer to justice. Lush period detail and well-fleshed-out characters as well as dry humor recommend this start to a series.
Veronica Heley's Bea Abbot is back with False Pride. Magda, one of Bea's employees working as a housekeeper in the dysfunctional Rycroft home, shows up on Bea's doorstep with a suitcase of valuable jewelry and a couple of toughs in pursuit. Apparently, these jewels were entrusted to Magda by someone in the Rycroft family, which starts losing members at a prodigious rate. Bea has to work with her ex-husband to solve the mystery in this slightly dark cozy.
Mariah Fredricks makes her adult novel debut in A Death of No Importance, set on the other side of the Atlantic. Jane Prescott is the highly capable maid of the new-money Benchleys in Gilded-Age New York. When the man one of the Benchley daughters hopes to marry ends up gruesomely dead at a Christmas party, Jane has a sinking feeling that the anarchists being accused are in fact the perpetrators. However, not all is right with that particular narrative, and Jane decides to go after the truth, aided by a rakish gossip journalist. Highly atmospheric and exhaustively researched, one is treated to Jane's somewhat wry, some might say sharp, view of human nature.
Got more tales of devious doings in great houses? Tell us about them in the comments.