Playing It Safe by Ashley Weaver
Mystery | Historical Fiction
Historical mysteries are one of my go-to genres for easy, relaxing reads. The genre is fairly formulaic in that we usually get a murder mystery, a spunky and adventurous protagonist, and a little bit of romance with the lead detective — and in that respect, Playing It Safe gave me exactly what I was looking for.
Playing It Safe features Electra McDonnell (otherwise known as Ellie). A former safecracking thief, she’s now on call with British Intelligence and has been tasked to help Major Ramsey with a new undercover assignment. When a man falls dead in the middle of the street, Ellie suspects that he has something to do with her mission, and soon finds herself on the hunt for German spies.
This was an entertaining story with a fast pace and enough action to keep me flipping pages until the very end. (I don’t often read books in one sitting, but this quick read was an exception!) Having Ellie undercover the entire time made for a unique plot. We also had a fairly large, but easily discernable, cast of characters — and that gave us plenty of suspects. My one critique is that the ending wasn’t tied up as neatly as I usually like, and I was left with a few unanswered questions about the mystery itself.
Although this is the third Electra McDonnell book in the series, I had no trouble picking it up as a standalone. Ellie is adventurous and independent and has a unique skill set that makes for an exciting and rootable heroine. I loved the existing tension between Ellie and Major Ramsey, and I suspect that those who’ve read books one and two will really enjoy the character developments within this novel.
All in all, this was a really quick and enjoyable mystery. I will definitely be back for future Electra novels!
A quick mystery for historical fiction fans
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Minotaur Books. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
As the Blitz continues to ravage London, Ellie McDonnell—formerly a safecracking thief, but currently determined to stay on the straight and narrow to help her country—is approached by British Intelligence officer Major Ramsey with a new assignment. She is to travel under an assumed identity to the port city of Sunderland and there await further instructions. In his usual infuriating way, the Major has left her task as vague and mysterious as possible.
Ellie, ever-ready to aid her country, heads north, her safecracking tools in tow. But before she can rendezvous with the major, she witnesses an unnatural death. A man falls dead in the street in front of her, with a note clutched in his hand. Ellie’s instincts tell her that the man’s death is connected in some way to her mission.
Soon, Ellie and the major are locked in a battle of wits and a race against time with an unknown and deadly adversary, and a case that leads them to a possible Nazi counterfeiting operation. With bombs dropping on the city and a would-be assassin shadowing their every move, it will take all of Ellie’s resourcefulness and Major Ramsey’s fortitude to unmask the spymaster and avert disastrous consequences—for England and for their own lives.