This week we’re featuring a special guest review from part-time bookseller/event host and full-time mystery lover, Meike. She discusses The Right Sort of Man, the first installment in a new series by Allison Montclair. This is a title that may have flown under your radar when it published earlier this year.
At loose ends after WWII, two very different London women join forces to launch a business venture in hopes it will help them heal the emotional wounds they’re privately nursing. Following a chance meeting, the quick-witted and impulsive Iris Sparks (this firecracker is aptly named!) and the aristocratic and genteel widow Gwendolyn Bainbridge decide to open The Right Sort Marriage Bureau—many Londoners are anxious to marry and begin families to put the horrors of the war behind them, and our heroines hope their firm’s matchmaking can help others while also giving them a sense of independence.
But their new venture is put at risk when their latest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered. The police quickly make an arrest, and the accused is none other than Dickie Trower, the man they introduced her to. While the police are quite certain they have their man, Iris and Gwendolyn are equally certain they do not. When the case generates some bad publicity causing them to lose clients, they join forces to find the real murderer and clear the Right Sort’s name—while discovering hidden talents and depths of emotional strength in themselves and each other.
The Right Sort of Man is Montclair’s first installment featuring Iris and Gwendolyn, and one hopes there will be many to follow. The characters couldn’t be more different yet they complement each other perfectly. The reader gets to know them at the same time they’re getting to know each other; each character has hidden wounds from the war that are gradually revealed as the plot progresses and the result is a perfectly paced story. They also each have a unique set of talents that aren’t immediately obvious (Iris is particularly talented with knives!) The dialogue between the characters is whip smart and funny and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book.
Upon reading the dust jacket, I couldn’t help but being reminded of two of my favorite series—Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs and Alexander McCall Smith’s Number One Ladies Detective Agency. Like the former, this is a solid fusion between mystery and British historical fiction. Like the latter, we get to meet two independent female business owners determined to succeed while never forgetting to be kind. Montclair has crafted the perfect new addition to the mystery genre for fans of both.
You can purchase a copy of The Right Sort of Man today in-store and online at BookPeople.