A Death at His Majesty's (The Simon Simpson Mysteries, #3)

 A Death at His Majesty's (The Simon Simpson Mysteries, #3)
Author: David Dawson
Publisher: Park Creek Publishing
Release Date: April 18, 2024
Genre(s): Historical Murder Mystery
Page Count: 280
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

Read book blurb here

The first two book in the Simon Sampson Mysteries series are set in late 1932 and 1933 in London and Berlin, respectively, featuring political conspiracies and high intrigue. The main character, Simon Sampson works for BBC news and his close friend Bill (Florence Mills) manages the BBC library, although they are each equally comfortable in the arena of spies and espionage. 

A Death at His Majesty's serves as a prequel to the series, set in 1929 London when Bill was Noel Coward's beleaguered assistant and Simon worked as a journalist for the Chronicle. They meet when the prop girl, Maureen Lyon, Bill's former lover, is founded murdered by the stage door of the Majesty, when Noel Coward's operetta Bitter Sweet is set to open. A second death leaves Bill and Simon searching for a common thread to the death and uncovering a killer that may have connections to those in powerful places. 

As always, Dawson does an exception job of setting the scene with historic details about the era, and the gay men and women who lived in an other version of London. Ironically, "it's not even illegal in this country for women to be ... Sapphic ... as far as I know. The law's just obsessed with buggery, you know. Between chaps. The ladies are left alone." Yet this did not prevent women who frequented bars such as Paradise Regained, the Cherry Tree or the Honey Pot from pressure from the police. 

We also get Bill's POV throughout the book and get more of a glimpse into her background, and her acerbic personality. But we also see all the societal pressures that Bill fought against; Simon's Aunt Cynny, who has an important job in the Home Office, serves as an example of the few women who managed to overcome these assumptions and pressures. 

Personally, I didn't think the mystery and conclusion as gripping as the end of A Death in Berlin (but then, it is hard to top that ending!) and some characters like Darling were sort of shoe-horned in without a lot of depth, However, learning how Bill and Simon became friends and getting more pieces of the history of pre-WWII, I did like this installment in the series. I think the author has definitely found his niche, and as always, I'm looking forward to the next book! 4 stars. 

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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