The Bloodied Cravat
Reviewed by: Brenda
George Brummell is the Arbiter of Fashion. Society depends on his presence each season. This year he has yet to attend a party because he is grieving for his dear friend, Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. While at the Duchess of York's country estate, Oatlands, celebrating her birthday, George promises to attend more parties, as others in society wish, if the Duchess promises to come to London for the rest of the season, but first they have to survive a murderous birthday celebration full of single guests. As George knows, "the machinations of society are firmly control" and when the duchess's attempts at matchmaking fail, something deadly is bound to happen, so it's no surprise when a Marquis is found buried in the dog cemetery.
The Beau of society deals with much this season. A highwayman is holding up carriages near the Duchess's country estate, and has made off with George's blue velvet diary full of secrets and a particular letter. A Spaniard dares to compete for the duchess's attentions, and once the Marquis's body is discovered, George's relationship with the duchess could forever be changed. Once back in London, George calls on Miss Lavender again to help him with the murder mystery and in recovering his diary. Miss Lavender's father, a Bow Street Runner and Scot to boot, is handling the murder case.
Steven's George Brummell admits to being a "gatherer of secrets, scandals and salacious bits of information," but he also cares about people. His heart of gold and a quick wit effectively levels out the shallow, persnickety personality that sometimes peeks through. The series is Brummell's stage; to see his character evolve through three mysteries so far has been enjoyable to say the least. The secondary characters add to the storylines, but it's Brummell's first person anecdotes that make this reader like them. In Bloodied Cravat, Rosemary Stevens again successfully balances humor, light entertainment and a complex puzzle. It's a winning addition to an already light-hearted, engaging series that I'd gladly recommend to cozy and historical mystery readers.
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