Travel The World Mystery Catchup!

Jan 28, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy & Lorie Lewis Ham

This week we have reviews and giveaways of 4 mysteries that take you around the world–from New York, to Scotland, to England, and to Japan–and what better way to travel than in a book-A Fashionable Fatality: A Lady & Lady’s Maid Mystery by Alyssa Maxwell, City of Fortune: A Counterfeit Lady Novel by Victoria Thompson, Murder at a Scottish Wedding: A Scottish Shire Mystery by Traci Hall, and A Death in Tokyo by Keigo Higashino. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

A Fashionable Fatality: A Lady & Lady’s Maid Mystery by Alyssa Maxwell
Review by Sandra Murphy

Lady Phoebe has been invited to visit her sister Julia. Accompanied by her lady’s maid Eva, they arrive to find Julia’s favorite designer, Coco Chanel, is on hand as well, apparently with the idea of dressing Phoebe more suitably.

Coco takes over the house with an assistant, a clothing mistress, a current lover who is an Earl, two models, photographer, makeup artist, and large tents on the grounds for an outdoor photo session. Of course, they are all staying at the house — without ever being invited. Julia is appalled but thinks they won’t stay long. She’s wrong.

Suzette has been Coco’s model for several years, but for this outing, a younger model, India, is making her debut. She is a natural where Suzanne is temperamental and fussy.
Rumors fly about the relationships among the group. Coco has had many men in her life and is campaigning to marry the Earl. He thinks he is a gift to womankind and is willing to share the wealth of his charm. The photographer and Suzanne were an item or maybe it was the makeup artist. It’s all very scandalous.

When smoke is detected in the house, everyone rushes outside while the men search for the location of the fire, only to find out, it’s only smoke. It’s in Suzanne’s room and she’s dead. The flue to the chimney was closed and a footman is blamed.

Julia hopes Coco will pack up and leave after such a horrible death of one of her party, but she goes on as if nothing happened. The police rule it an accidental malfunction of the fireplace combined with Suzanne’s drunkenness. Phoebe thinks not, and she and Eva set out to solve what they are sure was murder. This case is a difficult one with a time limit. Once the fashionistas depart, there’s no hope of finding the truth.

This is book eight in the series, set after the Great War, when times are tough and so are the people, gentry or not. Phoebe has an inquisitive mind and so does Eva. Between them, a killer doesn’t have a chance. I enjoy seeing strong women follow protocol where they must, chase clues and facts where they can, and not just survive but adapt and thrive.

City of Fortune: A Counterfeit Lady Novel by Victoria Thompson
Review by Sandra Murphy

Gideon Bates is a lawyer, married to Elizabeth, a con woman, who comes from a whole family of con artists. He’s not sure exactly how that came about, but he is besotted and tries his best to make sure her cons are for the overall good and he doesn’t have to lie when he’s recruited to play a small role in the schemes.

This time his client, Sebastian Nolan, invites Gideon and Elizabeth to the track to see his horse race — and witness another race that features a true champion. They agree, and with Gideon’s mother, attend and meet Sebastian’s daughter, Irene. Sebastian wants to marry her off, but she’s more interested in horses than marriage. She also has better manners than her coarse father.

After Elizabeth meets Irene’s horse, Trench, and jockey, Cal, she understands Irene’s disinterest in marriage. Her love for her horse shows and her love for Cal, less evident, is just as important. However, her social climbing father would never allow her to marry a jockey.

Elizabeth is quick to notice her father, the Old Man, is at the track as well, accompanying a striking woman. Sebastian almost chokes. The woman is a near twin for his deceased wife.

A sworn enemy of Sebastian, Livingston is also at the track. An accident puts Trench in jeopardy and Cal in the hospital, or was it an accident? Sebastian blames Livingston without proof. Of course, there is the fact that Livingston’s fiancé broke their engagement and eloped with Sebastian, but that was twenty-five years ago. Could he still hold a grudge?

It’s a con within a con within a con to reach the conclusion that will satisfy everyone. Well, almost everyone.

This is book six, all reviewed here. I enjoy how Elizabeth maneuvers in what is considered a man’s world and always manages to best them. She and Gideon are a perfect match. Mother Bates is a delight as she learns more and more about how a con works. I expect her involvement to grow with each future tale.

Murder at a Scottish Wedding: A Scottish Shire Mystery by Traci Hall
Review by Sandra Murphy

Lydia and Corbin are so in love. It’s obvious to anyone who sees them; they should marry. Everyone except Corbin’s stepmother who has put herself in charge of the wedding, including adding as many roadblocks as she can. One is brides receiving a brooch as a love token from their groom to wear on their special day and keep thereafter. Stepmom swears the one Lydia received is cursed. Considering all the other concessions Lydia’s made for the sake of keeping the peace, she’s holding firm on this one.

The brooch is sent out to be cleaned although Lydia doesn’t see why. It’s delivered to the vicar who is performing the ceremony and then to Lydia in the bride’s dressing room with the bridesmaids, just as the photographer calls for them to pose for photos outdoors.

When they return, no one notices the box with the brooch is missing until it’s time to pin it on. A frantic search doesn’t give so much as a clue. Lydia is nearly hysterical at the thought of confessing she’s lost the thing.

At last, the wedding is on, brooch or no. Moments before the wedding party is to walk down the aisle, one of the cousins rushes from the church, in obvious distress. Paislee, Lydia’s best friend and matron of honor, tries to help as the woman cries she can’t see. One of the groomsmen grabs for her as she runs out of the church but misses. The woman falls down a steep set of stairs in front of the church and is killed.

That’s one way to stop a wedding.

Paislee is sure there’s more to the death than a simple fall since the woman has the missing brooch in hand when they reach her body. Although the superstitious family blames ‘the curse’, Paislee wonders: was the woman the intended victim or was Lydia?

This is book four in the series. I’m a big fan of Paislee. She has her own business, a son, and took in her grandfather and his secrets when he became homeless, even though it was a difficult transition for both. Paislee doesn’t take unnecessary risks, even in the romance department. The headmaster at her son’s school has shown an interest, but then there’s the detective … I can’t wait to find out more (I’m rooting for the detective).

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

A Death in Tokyo by Keigo Higashino
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

A Death in Tokyo is the third book in a series featuring Tokyo Police detective Kyoichiro Kaga. Even though I had not read any of the other books in the series, I had no trouble starting off with this one—the author gives just enough info about the main characters that you don’t feel lost. The book also contains a cast of characters list at the beginning that helps readers who may lack familiarity with Japanese names keep track of who is who in the story. Having a love for Japanese anime and manga, I jumped at the chance to review a mystery novel set in Japan and I wasn’t disappointed.

The story opens with a police officer from Nihonbashi Bridge police station noticing a man that appears to be drunk, but when he looks again it seems as though the man is leaning up against an ornamental column on the bridge. When he investigates, the officer finds that the man has been stabbed. The victim is a local businessman named Takeaki Aoyagi. He is rushed to the hospital where he soon dies. The police quickly locate a suspect named Fuyuki Yashima, but he attempts to flee and a passing truck runs him down as he dashes across a busy street. Yashima arrives at the hospital with a serious head injury and is in a coma. Detectives Shuhei Matsumiya and Kyoichiro Kaga of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police are assigned to work together to find evidence to prove that Yashima is indeed the killer. An interesting twist is that the two detectives are also cousins.

While they search for a motive for the murder, Kaga works to recreate the movements of the victim and the suspect. They also interview the victim’s family and the suspect’s girlfriend Kaori Nakahara. Nakahara is adamant that her boyfriend would never hurt anyone. Even though the suspect was found with the victim’s briefcase and wallet, Kaga begins to doubt his guilt. As they continue to investigate, they discover things aren’t nearly as simple as they seemed. Despite pressure from their superiors to quickly close the case, the pair of detectives continue to pursue Kaga’s theories as he is determined to find out the truth.

This was an excellent mystery filled with twists and turns. I enjoyed learning more about the history and architecture of Tokyo, and following the characters as they took us through the city’s streets, into restaurants, and on a journey through Tokyo along the way. Kaga has been called “a modern-day Poirot” by one reviewer and I have to say that fits. He is an interesting and complex character who is determined to find out the truth despite the pressure to wrap up the case quickly. Having the pair be cousins provided us with a closer look at the characters than we might have gotten otherwise and their occasional banter and familiarity was fun.

If you enjoy a well-written mystery, great characters, and want to take a trip to Japan without leaving your chair, I highly recommend A Death in Tokyo! I plan to go back and read the earlier books myself!

To enter to win a copy of all 4 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “travel” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 4, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!<

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Another great bunch of books! Count me in!

  2. Thank you so much for the amazing review of Murder at a Scottish Wedding!!!

  3. These would all be new series for me.
    Sound intriguing. thanks.

  4. This looks awesome!

  5. Sounds like a vacation in books. Would really like to read.

  6. We have a winner!


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