No spoilers in this review of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins.
Special thanks to Ami Shah, a new BSR contributor, who wrote this review. Visit her Instagram page to connect with her!
A Lady’s Guide takes you to London in 1865, where the recent Commandment Killings have wreaked havoc in both the poor and rich communities. When Katherine ‘Kate’ Bascomb, who runs The London Gazette, realizes these crimes are an important issue, she and her like-minded friend Caroline Hardcastle set out to print their very own column called “A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem”. Its aim is to teach women how to do a better job of looking out for themselves and their loved ones in this dangerous time.
The first article she prints says the Scotland Yard has arrested the wrong person responsible for the killings and the murderer is still out there. Both Kate and Caroline have investigated this on their own before writing the piece. The article is an instant hit and causes upheaval in the police department. Detective Inspector (DI) Andrew Eversham, who led the case, is demoted, and an unspoken rivalry develops between Kate and Eversham. Later, the two of them partner up for an interview because Kate wants to learn as much about his methods as she can.
Kate flees to a country house party to escape her doubts about the case, only to become a witness to murder herself! Cue the re-entry of the handsome DI Eversham. To avoid bad publicity, Eversham’s superiors pressure him to solve the case quickly rather than correctly, with his reputation and job at stake.
When he arrives to investigate, Eversham accuses Kate of inflaming rather than informing the public about the killings. Kate vows to prove him wrong and insists on helping with the case. Since she is a key witness, Eversham only reluctantly agrees she can take part, probably just to prevent her from wrecking another of his cases. But his admiration for Kate grows as she provides insightful theories and helps find clues as the case progresses.
Words like “mayhem” and “mischief” imply a quick pace, snide remarks, and sarcasm, but much of that was missing from A Lady’s Guide. While there were many elements of romance and mystery, the plot shifted from mystery to romance in a blink, and neither were developed fully.
Yet this book was a page-turner, and Kate was an enjoyable protagonist to read about. In male-dominated times, she defied all the odds and overcame the prejudices men had against the opposite gender. While women in that era were supposed to be prim and proper, Kate was intelligent and dauntless, and her pliability was remarkable. While some of her decisions may not be to everyone’s liking, she did what she thought was best for others and herself. Four stars from me!
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