In Mystery Loves Company by Sheri Cobb South, John and Julia Pickett have now been married for two months, and the honeymoon is nearing its end. Bow Street Runner John is starting to feel like a “kept man,” with his noble wife, Julia, expecting him to dress up for dinner, wear clothes made to measure, and get his hair cut by her first husband’s barber. So when he is asked to help Lady Washbourne, the daughter of a tradesman who married an earl, John feels a connection with her situation. She has had a series of “accidents” that make her worry that her husband is trying to murder her and invites John and Julia to attend an upcoming masquerade ball, so John can keep an eye on things. Julia is thrilled to be invited to a costume ball and makes John wear a costume with a cumbersome sword attached.
But just as the ball seems to be winding down successfully, a maid drinks a glass of peach ratafia left untouched by one of the guests and falls over dead. Though the coroner and his jury declare the death natural causes, John suspects prussic acid, now commonly known as cyanide. He investigates to try to save Lady Washbourne’s life but also has a lot to do to save his marriage.
I have listened to all the previous books in the John Pickett series and have enjoyed each one. Mystery Loves Company continues with this pattern of excellence, drawing the readers thoroughly into the plot, so I didn’t want to take even the slightest break in my recording. John Pickett proves his gift for detection as he solves this case, despite being the youngest detective among the Bow Street Runners. The details of his research into prussic acid and ratafia, which has an almond taste, become fascinating as John gradually puts the pieces together.
The characters in this book are relatable, and we feel a lot of empathy for their situations. We connect to the conflict between John and Julia over money and lifestyle, as she can’t understand why he isn’t happy with all the advantages her money can bring, while he wants to be able to provide for his wife and not depend entirely upon her. When they have their big fight, we listeners cringe because we want them to success in their marriage. We also enjoy getting to meet John’s former school master, whose actions in teaching John to read changed his life. On the other hand, we also become reunited with John’s old master and the man’s daughter, John’s first love, whom he now recognizes as crass and money- grubbing.
The audio edition of the book is performed by Joel L. Froomkin, one of the top narrators in the current field of audiobooks. He does a great job of creating voices for each character and does a highly believable Scottish accent for Mr. Calhoun, the head of Bow Street. Froomkin’s performance makes this book all the more believable and goes a long way towards making us feel thoroughly attached to the book, not wanting to pause it at all.
I highly enjoyed listening to Mystery Loves Company and think this is perhaps the strongest of the books in the series yet. It combines a good mystery plot with highly identifiable characters with whom we really connect. This series has a bit more personal details than most cozy mysteries, but I have never found that to bother me because they are written so well. I really loved this book and give ir five stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free for review purposes, but that in no way had any influence on the content of my review.
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