Pub. Date: June 4, 2019
Source: ARC + finished hardback via publisher (Thank you, Minotaur Books!)
Summary: In a London slowly recovering from World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair–The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, quick-witted and impulsive, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.
But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear his name–and to rescue their fledging operation’s reputation–Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they’ve each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.
Little do they know that this will put their very lives at risk.
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction, WWII
Back in January I mentioned this book in a recently added post where I highlighted three upcoming releases I was beyond excited about. I might have pestered the publicist a bit, but in the end this book landed in my hands and spoiler alert, I now have my third 5-star read of 2019 (out of 89 books so you know this is a good one)! There, done, review over, right? What more needs to be said?
London was devastated by the war and those left behind are slowly picking up the pieces and attempting to return to something akin to normal. Though buildings are little more than ruins and few families escaped without a loss, the world continues to turn and life must go on. The war saw the death of her beloved husband Ronnie, and when her grief became too much, Gwen found herself committed to a sanatorium. Her in-laws immediately sought custody of Gwen’s six-year-old son and, though she now lives in their sprawling manor, she knows the roof over her head is not there out of love. One wrong move and the indomitable lord and lady will ensure Gwen never sees her son – their heir – ever again.
Iris doesn’t talk about her role in the war. She can’t. Oaths, vows of secrecy, a chain of command, the whole works. While she might seem carefree and aloof on the outside, Iris desperately wants to find love. Sure, affairs and flings are a grand old time, but how could she expect to stay with a man when he refuses to be seen with her in public? Iris has a trail of failed relationships and broken engagements in her wake, the latest one had everything to do with her part in the war effort, and because of that, she wasn’t able to explain. Instead, she had to watch him walk out of her life assuming the very worst about her character.
Though these two ladies couldn’t be more different, their friendship came fast and fierce. Now, mere months after their initial meeting, they’re the proud owners of The Right Sort, a marriage bureau. For a fee (and after a lengthy questionnaire) they play matchmaker, selecting just the right husband for a young woman.
Their personal lives might be turned upside down, but their business is moving along swimmingly…until their latest client is found murdered in an alley. And the man charged with the crime is the man Iris and Gwen chose for Tillie. While they are both dismayed and shocked at the news of Tillie’s death, there’s just no way Dickie did it. Gwen and Iris might be the only two in London who believe he’s innocent, and they’re determined to clear his name (and their reputation).
First thing’s first: I went into this book assuming Gwen was much older. Because she had been described in the summary as practical and a widow, in my mind I took her to be an elderly woman. Nope! I can’t recall if her age was ever stated, but Iris is 29 and the two are around the same age.
As for the story, I loved it. I ate it up and tore through The Right Sort of Man in a sitting. The setting, the time period, their backstories, the secondary characters (more of Sally please!), everything about this book was a pure delight and I highlighted several passages and snippets of conversations because they made me laugh so much.
Cozy mystery readers will feel right at home within these pages. I don’t believe the book is being marketed as such, but it gave off some serious cozy vibes from the total amateurs taking matters into their own hands to the light-hearted style (as light-hearted as a city wrecked by war and a murder can be).
There were a few twists and turns throughout the book, some I saw while other caught me by surprise (surprises are always welcome when it comes to mysteries) and I flipped the pages at a breakneck pace. While I was absolutely absorbed in the crime and whodunit, Gwen and Iris were the real stars of the show. Their friendship, their banter, I adored them and wish the book was twice as long just so I could spend more time with these ladies. I cared about them and even now after having finished the book, I find myself thinking back to them and wondering what’s going to happen next in their lives. Book two doesn’t even need a murder to solve, that’s how eager I am to read more about these fantastic characters. I might enjoy books and happily discuss them, but I save my over-the-top praise for the truly special ones. And this book, the third this year out of the 89 I’ve read so far to receive the coveted 5-star rating, is a truly special one.