Monday, January 26, 2015

Death of a Dishonorab​le Gentleman Blog Tour: Review

Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Minotaur Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Mystery


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.

A Party for Winston, the second book in the series to be released in January 2016.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Being a huge fan of Downton Abbey I was so excited to read this book, which sounded to me like a cross between that lovely show and the movie Clue (although I assumed, given the cast of characters, that Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman would be a little less campy and much more elegant then that particular movie). Who wouldn't love the opulence of a lavish costume ball tarnished by a vicious murder and two missing girls? Well, I'm happy to say that the author did a wonderful job of setting the stage and delivering a page-turning murder mystery with a cast of characters sure to delight.

Being the two main characters, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson were wonderful complements to each other and really showcased their two different worlds and how each were able to add their own bits of skill and expertise to the task of locating not only the two missing girls - Lucinda, the daughter of one of the guests and Violet, the house's newest housemaid - but discovering who murdered the despicable Teddy. I wondered at first how these two would ever begin working together given the strict separation of the classes but once Lady Montfort discovered her beloved son might be accused of the murder and implored Mrs. Jackson to assist her in finding out who did commit the crime before it was too late, it was easy to see how they could work if not together than towards the same purpose. Mrs. Jackson's loyalty to the family she works for and her steadfast belief that her duty was to guard the family's reputation from outside forces combined with her quick mind and calm demeanor made it easy to see her assisting the imaginative and determined Lady Montfort.

The remaining cast of characters, from below stairs and above, are a fun hodgepodge of gossiping servants and the eccentric rich. Most all fit into the neat patterns we typically see in this sort of story - loud and gruff cook, stuffy butler, cold dowager, rich lady dripping with jewels and an ever-present lap dog, etc. - but some break free of this mold and deliver a nice bit of change. It's interesting to see  how quickly the secrets begin to slide out when everyone is  made to stay put together and their every move is scrutinized. I very much enjoyed watching the juggling act Lady Montfort  had to perform between keeping her guests happy and safe, the inspectors satisfied with their investigation and her own investigation from being discovered.

As a secondary storyline the novel highlighted the big changes coming to England during this time, from the uptick in "new money" to the changing politics to women's suffrage, and while I found these topics interesting they somewhat pulled me away from the central story of who murdered Teddy and what happened to those two girls. I also found the discovery of the two girls somewhat anti-climactic and by the last page wasn't overly sure why they were included other than to draw the eye away from the murder and give a reason for the killer to have committed the crime.

This being said I was completely surprised by who the killer ended up being. I was so sure I had it (going with the idea that it is usually the person you least expect) and kept reading to see if I was right. The author did a splendid job of giving the reader many plausible suspects and really surprising with the end result. By the end, learning what a horrid human Teddy had been, I was ready to forgive just about anyone for the murder and I have to say, without giving anything away, I left the story feeling like some justice had been done even if the actions were unlawful.

I am very much looking forward to the next book in this series. I agree that fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman but would also extend that to those who enjoy whodunits and a generous cast of plucky characters.   

What Did I Think About the Cover?

Its gorgeous! Not only does the stately home fit perfectly into my image of Iyntwood, Lord and Lady Montfort's country estate, but the coloring and positioning of the grounds and the sky are stunning. With all the hidden secrets going on within Iyntwood this empty landscape makes me think of what is really going on behind the closed door.

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to continue below for more information about the author, the book and the rest of the blog tour!

Praise for Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman

“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

“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

“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.

“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

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Book Depository

About the Author

TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.
the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job.

For more information please visit Tessa Arlen’s website. Read Tessa Arlen’s blog at Redoubtable Edwardians. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Subscribe to Tessa Arlen’s Newsletter.

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 5

Review at Reading the Past
Review at Back Porchervations
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, January 6

Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Spotlight & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 7

Review & Giveaway at To Read, Or Not to Read
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Friday, January 9

Review at Mel’s Shelves
Guest Post on The Writing Desk
Review at Back Porchervations

Saturday, January 10

Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Sunday, January 11

Review at Buried Under Books

Monday, January 12

Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, January 13

Review at Girl Lost in a Book
Interview at Back Porchervations
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, January 14

Review & Giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, January 15

Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, January 16

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Monday, January 19

Review at Beth’s Book Book

Tuesday, January 20

Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, January 21

Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, January 22

Review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Monday, January 26

Review at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, January 27

Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, January 28

Review at A Book Geek

Thursday, January 29

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 30

Review at The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, January 31

Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic

Monday, February 2

Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, February 3

Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Thursday, February 5

Review at Layered Pages

Friday, February 6

Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection



  1. Great! A historical murder mystery with a villian not to be figured out until the end!

    1. Hi Carol! Yes, I love being surprised by the big murder revelation and this one definitely surprised me! If you get the chance to read it let me know what you thought!

  2. I enjoyed this one very much too (my blog was an early tour stop) - and I agree, the cover design is beautiful!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Sarah! I just read your review (and realized I hadn't ever signed up to receive email notices of your is that possible? I solved that problem and signed up :) ) and it is lovely!

    2. Thanks, Colleen! :) I've been enjoying reading your new blog!

    3. Aw, thank you that means so much to me :)!!

  3. Thank you for hosting Tessa's tour, Colleen! I can't wait to start my copy and I agree about the cover, it's one of the best I've seen and it looks so pretty on my bookshelf!

    1. Thank YOU, Amy, for fueling my reading addiction with your stellar book tours!!! I'm so excited to hear what you think about this once you read it!