This was my first introduction to cosy murder mysteries and my very first book tour, so combined, this is a rather exciting moment for Mrs Bennett’s Bookshelf!
Set in 1920s London, ‘Blackmail in Bloomsbury’ is written in a highly atmospheric way that had me pleasantly lost in another world. Tackling the serious issues of murder, violence and illegal homosexuality, this little book also features a woman as the main character, who works as an assistant detective during a time when women didn’t even work in the police force. Big, brave issues in a rather small novella, yet sensitively addressed and authentically in keeping with the laws and societal attitudes of the time. This deserves congratulatory recognition, as it will have required a lot of research and self-control on the part of the author, given that we now live in different times, with more acceptance of women in authority and homosexuality.
Written with clear direction, ‘Blackmail in Bloomsbury’ left me deliciously guessing ‘whodunnit’ until the very end (with quite a few wrong guesses as the story progressed!). The characters are delightful, and how Sayburn Lane manages to make this into a cosy mystery given the fact that this features a murder plot is a very clever skill.
The thing that makes this cosy is down to the setting, the characters and the dialogue. There’s a beautiful balance between the lightness of the tone amidst some thrilling scenes and the ending is not a disappointing one.
‘Blackmail in Bloomsbury’ deserves 4.5 stars and a place on Mrs Bennett’s Bookshelf for the talented way that Sayburn Lane has written and left me keen to follow the future exploits of Marjorie Swallow and her no-nonsense mentor.
Thank you to Anna Sayburn Lane and Random Things Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.
‘Blackmail in Bloomsbury’ will be released on 5th October 2023 and is available to pre-order with Book 2 – ‘The Soho Jazz Murders’ (due to be published in January 2024).