Yet More Lady Detectives

Want a little escapism with your whodunit? These are three recent historical mysteries full of wit and humor. All three star women in the fist half of the 20th century, so be prepared for gender-expectation-busting hijinks.

Lola Woodby, star of Come Hell or Highball, is back for another adventure in Maia Chance's Teetotaled. Though Lola and her trusty business partner and cook, Berta, have had some success with their last case, business is such that when asked to retrieve a diary from a society matron's daughter, they jump at the chance, or, at least, Berta does. Lola is not so sure, since this will entail going to a health farm run by her brother-in-law (yuck) and eating health bread (double yuck). Things get interesting when a society lady is murdered at the health farm and the wayward debutante and her diary go missing. Lola and Berta have a panoply of suspects and motivations, and some are downright devious. Complicating the already complicated is the reappearance of handsome and witty Ralph Oliver, who is back from a sojourn in Cuba. Lola's going to have to talk fast and stay on her toes if she's going to solve this case. Funny and with a great sense of time and place, this is a worthy sequel.

Eccentric Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid, Florence Armstrong, have retired to an Edwardian English hamlet in T.E. Kinsey's A Quiet Life in the Country. So much for that when a body is found in the woods and the police bungle the case. This simply will not do, so Lady Emily uses her unusually good crime-solving skills (just what finishing school did she attend?) and her maid's facility with martial arts (oh, my) to bring justice to the guilty. There's plenty of banter in this upbeat cozy and the quirky characters make one hope for a sequel.

Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series has been delighting readers for years, but the newest addition to the series bears mention.  Crowned and Dangerous finds Lady Georgiana and her beau, Darcy O'Mara ready to elope (finally) to Scotland in 1934. Though only 35th in line to the throne, Lady Georgiana still needs royal permission to marry a Roman Catholic, hence the elopement. However, while on their way to this romantic rendezvous, Darcy gets word that his father has been arrested for murder and it looks bad. Wedding plans are again put on ice as the couple fight to clear the man's name.  A blend of Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse, Bowen again shows his mastery of plotting and outsize characters.

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