Black Cats and Butlers (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates, Book 1)

Janine Beacham

Black Cats and Butlers (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates, Book 1)
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Black Cats and Butlers (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates, Book 1)

Janine Beacham

When Rose Raventhorpe’s beloved butler is found (gasp!) murdered in the hallway of her own house, she’s determined to uncover the culprit. Especially since he’s the third butler to die in a week!

Rose’s investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city’s ancient feline guardians.

Knives aren’t just for cutting cucumber sandwiches, you know …

Review

Twelve year old Rose Raventhorpe is compelled to investigate a string of murdered butlers after the death of her own beloved butler, Argyle. Set in a fictional imagining of York, England, in the late nineteenth century, Black Cats and Butlers is the first in a new series and a sometimes far-fetched murder mystery replete with superstitious, swordfighting manservants, a secret labyrinth and a nasty band of bodysnatchers.

This novel has a strong cast of characters led by brave, resourceful Rose and her melodramatic friend Emily. They are given to romantic leanings and gothic fantasy, offsetting the genuinely atmospheric Yorke and its mysterious inhabitants. At times a little grim for a reader unfamiliar with crime fiction, this novel is nonetheless lots of fun, particularly when it concentrates on the workings of the secret society of crime fighting butlers who are guardians of the city. Beacham tackles the politics of class and gender well in this story, which plays out ‘upstairs–downstairs’ tensions and the difficulty faced by female characters who wish to be taken seriously in a man’s world.

Fans of Lemony Snicket and Robin Stevens will be keen for the next installment. I recommend for it for readers 9 and up.


Georgia Delaney works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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