Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Banquet of Lies

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Banquet of Lies (2013) Michelle Diener (Regency London)

Banquet of LiesSet in London in 1812.

Giselle Barrington fled Stockholm after witnessing the murder of her father. Now she has to find not only the killer, but also someone she can trust with the papers they were supposed to bring back to England.

(H)e’d be looking for the document he had killed her father for. The document her father had given to her minutes after he left the ambassador early this morning, for safekeeping. As he always did.

Lord Aldridge was content in the military, and he most certainly did not want to inherit since he did so after the death of his father and his brother. But at least he has found a way to continue to serve, by working in the Foreign Office.

Because Gigi spent so much time in the kitchens as a child, wanting to be around the men who sounded like her mother, and who made the foods that reminded her of her mother, she is able to take a position pretending to be a French chef.

This is just one of the strengths of this story. She had good reason to learn to cook as a child–and to become good at it even as an adult.

The second strength is that she really would not have known who to trust. She knows the man who killed her father is an Englishman, but she didn’t see his face and doesn’t know if he was working with someone else in the Foreign Office. So her search for someone she can trust makes sense.

But one of the things I loved best about this story is the time spent in the kitchen, and the secondary characters in the house. Especially Iris.

She was far too thin, and Gigi wondered if she was being starved here. It hardly seemed possible, and she didn’t think Iris was someone who would stand for that, but the evidence couldn’t be dismissed.

“I don’t mind what I eat, Cook. It’s all good to me.” Mavis blushed at being spoken to directly, and fiddled with her straight brown hair. “Never had too much at home. Too many of us, see? Five brothers and two sisters. And me brothers, they took as much as they could grab. Never was much left for us girls.”

“We’ve been fattening Mavis up,” Iris said, and something in the way she said it made Gigi go very still. If this was evidence of Mavis with more meat on her bones, she must have been a walking skeleton when she’d gotten here.

There’d been deep, cold anger in Iris’s voice, and she looked across at her. Their eyes met, and Gigi felt a sense of connection bloom, their mutual anger and horror at Mavis’s suffering binding them together.

Which brings me directly to another scene that tells you a great deal about Aldridge’s character.

She started to turn and then changed her mind, stopping to look him boldly in the eye. “Mavis,” she said.

“Mavis?” He scrambled to keep up.

“What secret do you share with her?”

He blinked. “Secret? Oh! The bonbons.” She kept her gaze on him. Steady. “She’s too thin. And I don’t really like bonbons, but my aunt sends them to me anyway. So I give them to Mavis, a few at a time. But I know Edgars wouldn’t approve, so I told her it was our little secret.”

These two short passages tell you a great deal about the household–as well as about the characters of Gigi, Jonathan, and Iris.

I also–like isn’t the correct term–appreciate Edgar’s story arc. And how you can clearly see how and why he ended up as he did.

There were rarely absolutely black villains in real life, her father was fond of saying. They were found in fairy tales to illustrate evil clearly, but most villains were colored in shades of gray.

This is one of my favorite stories, and I enjoyed rereading it.

Publisher : Gallery Books
Rating: 9.5/10


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