Murder in Westminster by Vanessa Riley
The first in a vibrant, inclusive new historical mystery series by acclaimed author Vanessa Riley portrays the true diversity of the Regency-era. The new series is perfect for fans of Bridgerton or mystery readers seeking more authenticity about the time period, as it introduces the strong, capable Lady Abigail Worthing, who must unearth a killer to clear her name… (From the book’s back cover)
I am always in the mood for a good mystery. And if you can make it historical? Well… all the better! So, I was really excited to see this brand new series from Vanessa Riley, featuring both an inclusive cast of characters and murder in the Regency era.
First of all, I adored the premise for this story. We don’t often see a lot of diversity in historical mysteries and I was thrilled that this book brought some new life to the Regency-era, female, amateur detective. Abigail Worthing is portrayed as strong and capable, determined, and a fighter for justice — which I loved.
However, while I think this was an solid start to a cozy series, I did find it a struggle to stay engaged throughout the book. The plot advanced quite slowly and there were a lot of dialogue-based scenes. There were also a few scenes that took me out of the book — such as numerous mentions throughout the story to past cases that Abigail had solved. I’m assuming that this was to give credibility to her current sleuthing abilities, but I had to stop and double check that this really was the first book in the series.
I also wish we would have gotten a better sense of Lady Worthing’s past. Numerous details were briefly mentioned about her husband or her sister, but never seemed to be fully fleshed out. Again, given that this is the first in a series, I realize that this was probably intentional and will be addressed later. However, while reading, there were multiple moments were I wasn’t quite sure what or why something was happening. On the other hand, while I wish there was a little more character and backstory development, I will say that being left in the place of wanting more isn’t necessarily a bad thing — especially for book one in a series!
Overall, I think this was an intriguing start to a series with a lot of potential. The book feels well researched, and the regency setting was well done. The mystery was fun and there are characters that I would love to get to know further in future reads. I look forward to seeing where Riley takes Lady Worthing next!
Readers who enjoy cozy historical mysteries
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ARC provided courtesy of Kensington Books and Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher): Discovering a body on her property presents Lady Abigail Worthing with more than one pressing problem. The victim is Juliet, the wife of her neighbor, Stapleton Henderson. Although Abigail has little connection with the lady in question, she expects to be under suspicion. Abigail’s skin color and her mother’s notorious past have earned her a certain reputation among the ton, and no amount of wealth or status will eclipse it.
Abigail can’t divulge that she was attending a secret pro-abolition meeting at the time of the murder. To her surprise, Henderson offers her an alibi. Though he and Juliet were long estranged, and she had a string of lovers, he feels a certain loyalty to his late wife. Perhaps together, he and Abigail can learn the truth.
Abigail, whose marriage to Lord Worthing was not a love match, knows well how appearances can deceive. For all its surface elegance, London’s high society can be treacherous. Yet who in their circle would have killed Juliet, and why? Taking the reins of her life in a way she never has before, Abby intends to find out—but in the process she will uncover more danger than she ever imagined…