STARRED REVIEW
October 13, 2015

Masquerade and murder

By Ashley Weaver
Review by

There’s trouble among the upper crust of 1930s London society, and in Ashley Weaver’s absorbing second mystery, Death Wears a Mask, the lovely and aristocratic Amory Ames is once again at the ready. She unmasked a murderer in Weaver’s 2014 debut, Murder at the Brightwell, and now a wealthy acquaintance has sought her help in ferreting out a thief.

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There’s trouble among the upper crust of 1930s London society, and in Ashley Weaver’s absorbing second mystery, Death Wears a Mask, the lovely and aristocratic Amory Ames is once again at the ready. She unmasked a murderer in Weaver’s 2014 debut, Murder at the Brightwell, and now a wealthy acquaintance has sought her help in ferreting out a thief.

Amory attends a dinner party at the Barrington residence, where Serena Barrington sets the stage by confiding to Amory that someone in their circle is making off with her favorite pieces of jewelry, including a ruby earring, an emerald ring and a bunch of sapphires and diamonds, all of which disappeared during social gatherings at her home.

As with detective stories of this genre, the suspects are all present at the dinner, where Serena privately asks Amory to keep her eyes and ears open for clues. The two even hatch a scheme to expose the perpetrator at the next party, a costume ball where once again all the suspects will be on hand. We know, of course, that something will go wrong at the masquerade ball: A shot rings out, and the body of Serena’s nephew, complete with tiger mask, is discovered, shot with his own weapon.

Weaver is a master of clever drawing-room repartee, and readers will have a pleasant time unraveling the mystery, which involves not only robbery and murder but several characters with distinctly unsavory pasts and modes of operation.

As with the first book in this series, Death Wears a Mask revolves around various fraught relationships, front and center being Amory’s ongoing duel with her super-attractive husband, Milo, whom she suspects of various indiscretions with the opposite sex, sometimes captured by gossip columnists and avid photographers at apparently inopportune moments. This theme of romantic doubt, a staple of many mysteries and romances, is clever at first, but our heroine’s wounded innocence begins to chafe once we see that Amory—who receives the attentions of notorious rake Lord Dunmore—is doing pretty much the same thing.

Hopefully this tiresome back-and-forth will be resolved by book number three, as the couple are clearly meant to be a clever crime-fighting duo, 1930s-style, and are much more intriguing and fun when they pursue criminals together.

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Death Wears a Mask

Death Wears a Mask

By Ashley Weaver
Minotaur
ISBN 9781250046376

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