Since this is books 1 & 2 of a series I may as well review them together.
Posie Parker has just set out her shingle as a Private Investigator after coming home from the Ambulance Brigade in WWI. She grew up as the daughter of a country vicar and after losing both her brother and her fiance to the war has decided she has no desire to go back to the small town life. Setting up shop on Grape Street in London with her anti-social Siamese cat, and eventually a partner, Lem who has been an investigator with his father but then came over to work with Posie after his father retired. Posie likes adventure, Lem specializes in shadowing unfaithful husbands and corrupt politicians.
In the first book, we see Posie’s first big case. A friend of her brother’s calls her for help, his girlfriend has disappeared on him and took her engagement ring, the biggest diamond in England, (a diamond with a deadly curse attached, no less) with her. As Posie arrives to meet him and discuss the issue, she ends up having to step over a dead body in the lobby of the hotel. So it goes that her friend is suspected of the murder, and it’s Posie’s job to figure out who the real killer is and where the diamond went. Plus she also needs to figure out how she feels about Lem and if that long distance relationship he keeps talking about is real or if he actually is flirting with her.
The Tomb of the Honey Bee picks up about six months after Offstage ends. Lady Violet, regular cover girl of the Ladies Magazines and gossip pages and sister to noted Professional Adventurer Alaric Boynton-Dale is missing and she doesn’t think he’s gone off on another trip. As Posie starts looking into his disappearance it turns out his family home might have been the most dangerous location he’s ever been. Several members of his family as well as his best friend and neighbor would have motive to kill him and “bad things” have been happening around the estate. What Posie thought would be a quiet week into the country turns into a mysterious dash around Europe to find Aleric, if he’s still alive, and find out who exactly is trying to kill him and why.
I’m sort of at a loss at how to describe these books. I do like them, I fly through them and really enjoy the stories. At the same time Posie can be a little… Annoying. She is a little bit of a Mary-Sue in a way. I’m not a huge fan of that phrase, but it’s an apt reference here, I think. She has guts, gumption, a perfect memory, amazing deduction skills, she can hang with the boys, she’s just clutsy enough to be cute, etc. etc. It can start to feel a bit much. At the same time, I don’t hate her, I just roll my eyes at her sometimes. I also roll my eyes at some of the tropes including *minor spoiler, I guess so I’ll put it in white* “international criminal mastermind sets his eyes on her as his ultimate nemesis, even though she has been a private investigator for all of three months.” Fortunately these things are small enough factors that it doesn’t distract too much from the overall fun of the books.
Basically, don’t expect Agatha Christie here, and Posie is no Miss Marple, but they are fun and the author is good at playing with the 1920’s England setting. The scenes are well described and a lot of the supporting characters are really well flashed out. They are fun books, they really are, quick reads as well, less than 300 pages each.