Set in 1865 London, a lady’s guide drives you through the city where recent commandment killings have created havoc in both, poor and the rich. When Katherine ‘Kate’ Bascomb realizes this is an important issue to be published in the newspaper she owns, she and her like-minded friend Caroline Hardcastle set out to print their new and very own column called “a lady’s guide to mischief and mayhem”. This was aimed at women looking out better for themselves and their loved ones.
In the male-dominated times, widowed at a young age, Kate breaks all the odds and prejudices that men have against the opposite gender. While women are supposed to be prim and proper, Kate is intelligent, brave, and dauntless. The first article is printed which says that Scotland Yard has arrested the wrong person responsible for the killings and the murderer is still out there (both Kate and Caro have investigated that on their own before writing the piece). No doubt, the article is an instant hit. This causes upheaval in the police department. Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham, who led the case, is demoted. This creates an unspoken rivalry between lady Bascomb and DI Eversham because her ink and paper gauntlet have led to the demotion of the detective inspector. Later, both of them partner up for an interview where Kate wants to learn about Eversham’s methods as much as she can.
Kate is an enjoyable protagonist to be read about. Her pliability is remarkable while some of her decisions may not be to one’s liking, she does what she thinks is best for others and her.
Katherine flees to a country house party to escape her doubts about the case — only to become a witness to murder herself! Cue the entry of handsome DI Eversham. He arrives for investigation and accuses Kate of inflaming rather than informing- the public about the killings. Katherine vows to prove him wrong. She insists on helping with the case. Being the key witness of the murder Eversham reluctantly agrees for her to take part in the case. This would also help prevent her wreck the case once again. To avoid bad publicity, his superiors pressure him to solve the case quickly rather than correctly, his reputation and job are at stake.
There is occasional teasing and flirtation but for now, Kate and Andrew have to catch a killer. Their passion for justice is another intriguing thing and it is put at risk when the killings are becoming increasingly dangerous.
While there are many elements of romance and mystery, things don’t add as much as they are supposed to. The plot shifts from mystery to romance in a blink. Neither mystery nor romance seems to be developed as much. The chemistry between them isn’t built and is hastily written down to attract different viewers. There is also a big intimacy gap that needs to be filled. Kate and Eversham supposedly fall in love but do they even know things about each other? Like, if Eversham has married before or does he have a child, or why he is still single despite being of age and possessor of a highly respected job.
Every aspect of the book seems to be underwhelming. This seems to be a cliché for Country House Party Murder in many ways. The only difference here is the Victorian era setting and some budding romance. The title isn’t apt as Kate isn’t the one causing mayhem. She is calm and level-minded.
Words like mayhem and mischief imply quick-paced happening, snide remarks, and sarcasm but it is missing in there.
Despite being a modern lady, Kate does have roots for prim and pomp.
Overall a 4-star read for me.