A Soupçon of Poison by Jennifer Ashley

A Soupçon of Poison by Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: Self-published, Amazon Kindle
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Rating: 3 stars
Review by: Fern

London, 1880
Kat Holloway, highly sought-after young cook to the wealthy of London, finds herself embroiled in murder when she’s accused of poisoning her employer, the loathsome Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury. Her only help as she works to clear her name comes from the mysterious Daniel McAdam, a handsome man-of-all-work who seems to know everyone and always happens to be in the right place at the right time.

Kat and Daniel investigate the crime, but the mystery of Daniel’s background might be just as elusive and dangerous as the poisoner bent on framing Kat for murder. Prequel to the Kat Holloway Below Stairs Mysteries.

Kat Holloway might be young for her position as Chef of Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury’s household, but she knows her way around a kitchen and has spent years honing her skills. After strongly knocking back Sir Lionel’s amorous advances, she finds his requests for outlandish meals with only a few hours warning growing increasingly difficult – to the point where she turns to a little known friend – Daniel McAdams for help. At her wit’s end, Kat is determined to have it out with Sir Lionel and she is almost ready to leave, only to be woken in the middle of the night by the maid to find Sir Lionel has been murdered – and Kat is the prime suspect as murderess. Can Kat and Daniel uncover what really went on that fateful evening?

I picked up this short story on a whim and by the second chapter found myself engrossed in both the setting and characters. I enjoyed that Kat was a strong and fairly independent young woman and there was quite the mystery surrounding Daniel as well. There was clear chemistry between the two characters but I was also glad this didn’t turn into more of a romance novel but rather kept it’s main focus on the murder mystery and unraveling this aspect to the plot.

I do admit this was a fairly light book – readers looking for deep intrigue or a vastly complex plot might not find this fits the bill, but readers more interested in a light mystery with a strong historical context and a strong female lead character should enjoy this as much as I did. I was glad this book is definitely a stand alone style of novel. There is a whole series based around Kat and Daniel but that appears to be completely separate from this short story so readers should definitely feel able to just pick this up on a whim – as I did – and delve right in. I admit that I enjoyed it enough I plan to purchase the second short story – which appears in a similar vein as this one and to stand equally well alone – and I am also eyeing off the connected seven book series with these characters as the main protagonists as well.

This book ticks a number of boxes for me being a historical novel with strongly written characters as well as a good murder mystery at its heart and just a flutter of romantic chemistry, I feel it should appeal to a wider range of readers and I’m eager to try more by this author around these characters. Enjoyable.