Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Speculations in Sin

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Speculations in Sin (2024) Jennifer Ashley (Kat Holloway / Below Stairs Mystery)

Speculations in SinSet in London in 1883

Joanna–Kat’s best friend and the woman who keeps Grace, Joanna’s daughter, is in trouble. Her husband has been accused of embezzlement, and if he loses his job not only will Grace have nowhere to live, but Joanna and her family will be out on the streets.

The start of the mystery is fraud and embezzlement–things about which Kat has absolutely no knowledge–so she immediately turns to those who would have (or be able to get) more knowledge.

“Daalman’s does investments, speculations, that sort of thing. It’s called a bank because it does take some deposits, but it trades with other banks and funds merchant voyages to India and other far-flung places. Been around for ages.”

“Do you know much about them?” I asked hopefully.

“Of course not. Most of these grand establishments of the City won’t let a lady walk into them—at least not one unaccompanied by her father, uncle, husband, or some other overbearing male member of her household.”

I appreciated the reminders of how difficult things were for women of the time–in so many areas of their lives.

“Uncle Neville likes when I ask about that sort of thing. He actually does believe a woman should know about finance, to keep from being taken advantage of. Auntie believes a woman’s husband should be in charge of all that, but Uncle’s job has showed him that many a wife has been duped by an unscrupulous or incompetent husband.” She huffed a laugh. “Uncle is not so much forward-thinking as practical.”

She doesn’t immediately show financial savvy and figure things out, but leans upon her friends–and she does so in a way should would never have done for herself.

That was one of the most interesting parts of the story, as it showed us Kat’s character in a way we knew already, but we could see it more forcefully.

Kat is usually hesitant to ask anyone for help, but here she willingly uses every resource she can think of to help her friend–and not just because of Grace. Daniel repeatedly reassures her that Grace will be kept safe and taken care of, but that doesn’t change Kat’s determination to help Joanna and Sam.

“Mr. Fielding.” Joanna let out a breath. “Please thank Mr. McAdam for lending him to me. I know he is a charlatan, but I was very grateful for his presence. He kept those belligerent young men, who were certain Sam is a vicious murderer, from terrorizing me.”

Things are ever so slowly becoming settled between Kat and Daniel. He still is tied to Monaghan for one more job, but Kat has learned to trust him.

Publisher: Berkley

Cover photograph by Larry Rostant; Cover design by Emily Osborne

Rating: 8.5/10


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