A Pinch of Poison by Alyssa Maxwell

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed reading Alyssa Maxwell’s Murder Most Malicious, so I was excited about the opportunity to read the next entry in her Lady and Lady’s Maid series.

A Pinch of Poison takes place a few months after the events in Murder Most Malicious. Lady Phoebe does not intend to make a habit of engaging in detective work, but this changes when the headmistress of her alma mater dies unexpectedly during a school function. When signs point to a poisoning, Lady Phoebe knows that she needs to assist the investigation in any way possible. After all, she is an alumna of the school and her sister is a current student. Perhaps she can speak to the students in a manner in which the male police officers cannot. Likewise, the household staff at the school might be more comfortable speaking to lady’s maid Eva.

But who would poison the headmistress? Was someone upset with her push for a more progressive curriculum? Why are some of the students so skittish? Why was the school nurse unable to provide assistance when the headmistress first fell ill?

What I really like about this book is how the mystery is related to the aftermath of the Great War, as everyone adjusts to a new way of life. Motivations have changed, and people are forced to look at things in a new light. I also like how Phoebe and Eva serve as dual protagonists. The scenes in which they discuss their findings are satisfying, but I also like when they split up. There’s some interesting character development for each woman, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this will manifest in future entries in the series.

I would recommend A Pinch of Poison to fans of historical mystery. The book does function well as a standalone, so I don’t think it’s necessary to read the first book in the series before this one. This series takes place in post-war England, and Lady Phoebe is the granddaughter of a viscount- so there’s bound to be some appeal to fans of Downton Abbey.

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