Title: Murder at the Seven Dials (A Bow Street Duchess Mystery)
Author: Cara Devlin
Publisher: First Cup Press
Release Date: January 28, 2023
Genre(s): Historical Murder Mystery, M/M
Page Count: 317
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
In this first book of Cara Devlin's new Regency-era murder/mystery series, we are introduced to Hugh Marsden, a Bow Street Runner, and Audrey Sinclair, the Duchess of Fournier. They are brought together by a horrible murder - the bloody slashing death of an opera singer in a suite of rooms where Philip, the Duke of Fournier, is found drenched in blood and incoherent, knife by his side. Officer Marsden believes the case open-and-shut, while Audrey is absolutely convinced of her husband's innocence.
What follows is an intriguing murder mystery, as Audrey recklessly forges ahead with her investigation, only to be stymied and eventually aided by Hugh Marsden. We quickly learn that Audrey and Philip's marriage is a shield for their respective secrets - Philip's secret is why Audrey knows that Philip was not interested in an affair with a woman, while Audrey's secret is a heck of a plot device as she is able to discern past events when she touches an item. For example, as she finds an earbob from the dead opera singer, she sees a partial image of the killer.
Hugh Marsden has a past, which slowly comes into focus as the story unfolds. The murder / mystery is densely plotted and continues to hold interest as the intrigue gets more complex and more suspects and motives are unveiled. In addition, the author deftly balances the drudging respect that Marsden develops for Audrey, with his interest in her as a woman. It's a nicely done very slow burn, which has some interesting possibilities.
When the murderer is finally revealed, it feels a bit too abrupt, or maybe it's just that we've been led along a merry bloody chase and then suddenly it's over. However, I was delighted to read the first chapter of the next book in the series, and am anxiously to read more about Audrey and Marsden. 4.5 stars.
I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.