Lady Montfort has been planning her annual summer costume ball for months, and with scrupulous care. Pulling together the food, flowers and a thousand other details for one of the most significant social occasions of the year is her happily accepted responsibility. But when her husband's degenerate nephew is found murdered, it's more than the ball that is ruined. In fact, Lady Montfort fears that the official police enquiry, driven by petty snobbery and class prejudice, is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect.
Taking matters into her own hands, the rather over-imaginative countess enlists the help of her pragmatic housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case, track down the women that vanished the night of the murder, and clear her son's name. As the two women search for a runaway housemaid and a headstrong young woman, they unearth the hidden lives of Lady Montfort's close friends, servants and family and discover the identity of a murderer hiding in plain sight.
In this enchanting debut sure to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, Tessa Arlen draws readers into a world exclusively enjoyed by the rich, privileged classes and suffered by the men and women who serve them. Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is an elegant mystery filled with intriguing characters and fascinating descriptions of Edwardian life—a superb treat for those who love British novels.
“Readers of this debut set in Edwardian England will feel as though they've stepped into an episode of Downton Abbey, complete with murder and intrigue upstairs and downstairs… Incorporating exquisite period detail into her well-mannered mystery, Arlen offers readers an engaging peek into the lives of upper and lower classes of early 1900s England combined with a little history interspersed.” —Library Journal
“Lively… Mystery fans eager for yet another look at the quasi-feudal system that prevailed in England before WWI will be most rewarded.” —Publishers Weekly
“A gruesome crime occurs on a wealthy estate in this debut mystery set in 1912 England. In a time period where social classes were distinct and separate, a countess and her housekeeper cross class boundaries to investigate a crime. Good plotting and characterization drive the story, which is enhanced with vivid details of the everyday life of the privileged classes and their servants.” —RT Times Book Review (four stars)
“Tessa Arlen has a worthy debut with Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman. With a deliciously gruesome murder and an unlikely pair of sleuths, this is a treat for fans of Downton Abbey who will want to devour it with a nice steaming pot of Earl Grey.” —New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn
“Thoroughly enchanting. Arlen's debut will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, with its vivid descriptions, firm grip on the intricacies of the time period, and skilled portrayal of the often complicated relationship between upstairs and downstairs.” —Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby mystery series
“A dash of noblesse oblige sparkles between the upstairs/downstairs world of Lady Montfort and her housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, as they work together to unmask the identity of a killer at large on the Montfort's country estate. As sharp as a Nancy Mitford novel, Tessa Arlen's sophisticated Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman deserves its place among the Great and the Good of classic mystery.” —Lyndsy Spence, founder of The Mitford Society and author of The Mitford Girls' Guide to Life
“In her debut novel, Tessa Arlen weaves an evocative tale of the passions, loyalties and ambitions that divide and unite two classes, upstairs and downstairs, in a stately home. She instantly transports the reader to Edwardian England.” —Christine Trent, author of Stolen Remains
“Arlen conveys a genuine feel for Edwardian life in a grand manor house and takes the opportunity to exploit amusingly snobbish exchanges between the guests.” —Historical Novel Society