Title: Death Comes to London Author: Catherine Lloyd

Author: Catherine Lloyd

In the second book in the Kurland St. Mary Mystery series by Catherine Lloyd, readers are entertained in a humdrum way by “the season” in London. Lucy Harrington has arrived from the village of Kurland St. Mary with her beautiful sister, Anna, in hopes of finding her a suitable husband – and maybe one for Lucy, too. Meanwhile, Major Robert Kurland finds himself moving in the same circles as he awaits a high honor from the Prince Regent. A death is, once again, the catalyst for Kurland and Harrington to partner – and continually bicker through – an investigation.

“It was a new dress and she’d felt fashionable and daring until she’d seen what the other ladies were wearing.”

Writing Style

I have to mention the writing style when speaking of this series, as it’s not totally my cup of tea, and probably not the most fluid that I’ve read. I’m wondering if this is intentional as it seems that the characters are relatively obtuse, at times, but it may not be. 

The writing is more matter-of-fact than emotional; even during a dramatic death scene, the characters just sort of leave the room quickly and nothing further is mentioned about the impact (emotionally, or on the storyline). Throughout the novel, I find myself asking “What next?” or “How does Y relate to X?” and expecting a forthcoming answer, although I rarely get one. 

For example, the above quote is the end of a paragraph. There’s no mention of what the other ladies are wearing, so the reader doesn’t know how to interpret this remark. Is Lucy’s dress inferior or does she just feel that way? Again, this may be intentional in allowing me to draw my own conclusions – I just don’t really like having to do that as it’s not my story. Nonetheless, the dry style isn’t enough to put me off reading the series, and I think you should give it a shot regardless of what I’ve just said, because it’s still an entertaining read.

“She found it much easier to converse with other guests in a more intimate setting and felt less on show like a prize turkey at the county fair.”

“The Season” in London

Viewing the setting through either Lucy Harrington or Robert Kurland’s eyes does not give the reader the usual romantic, extravagant vibe when picturing a victorian matchmaking ball. After Lucy’s initial excitement wore off (and Robert’s was never there), the reader has the sense of reluctance – “Not another dance.” As two countryfolk who like to do more than make idle conversation, the scene ends up being rather mundane and matter-of-fact for both characters.

“He’d seen many die, but not in such bizarre surroundings as a ballroom.”

The Plot

Although the romantic aspect of this book is lacking, the mystery is adequate. With multiple deaths, stolen jewels, and a crazy ex-fiancee, the plot (while not being thrilling; see “writing style”) moves along well. It was enough to hold my interest, and towards the end I really didn’t want to put the book down. 

I am actually okay with not as much romance as part of the plot. I don’t necessarily need to know every single thought one character has about another. However, I do want a little more from this book in terms of background information (do they even have feelings for each other, for a start) just so I can start to guess at where it’s heading.

“She looked remarkably happy, and quite unlike herself in a fashionable ball gown with its puffed sleeves and low-cut bodice.”

Lucy and Robert

One of the things I find irritating about Robert Kurland is that we know virtually nothing about him, aside that he was a Major in the battle of Waterloo and has a residual leg injury. I don’t know how old he is, what he wants in life, what his plans are for the village, etc. There’s a lot to be learned about his character – again, questions that I ask throughout the book but never seem to get an answer to.

We know a decent amount about Lucy, on the other hand. Her father is a miserly priest who expects her to fulfill the household role of her dead mother, whereas she wants a chance at a life of her own. Her sister Anna is beautiful, and their father has always looked to Anna as his daughter, while Lucy is almost something of a maidservant. As Lucy is able to gain some independence, she’s beginning to think about the different kinds of futures that lie in front of her.

In the first book as well as this, there are mentions of Lucy wanting to marry Major Kurland. Major Kurland is unaware of these feelings, and I get the impression that they’ve lessened as she’s worked for him. Major Kurland remains blissfully unattached, emotionally or maritally, to any woman throughout this book and the first one. I don’t even see a hint of attraction towards Lucy, aside from holding her at a higher regard because she’s not an idiotic female. It remains a mystery in itself to see if these two will ever develop real feelings for each other (again, a subject that I wish was slightly more explored).

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, I think you should give this book a shot – again, I’d advise starting with the first, but it’s not crucial to following this one.  You can decide whether you like the writing style or not, and whether there’s a future for Lucy and Robert. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Published by SamIAmReading

I am an avid reader and lover of historical mysteries and romances, but happy to take review requests and expand my horizons! All opinions in this blog are my own and have been given freely.

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