Murder in Drury Lane by Vanessa Riley
Lady Worthing Mysteries #2
October 24, 2023- Kensington
Review by Angela
I enjoyed the first book in this series, but like all first books in a series there was a lot of set-up and getting to know you. Murder in Drury Lane was a much easier read, especially now that I know the characters and their relationship dynamics.
Lady Abigail Worthing is a married woman with an estranged, absent husband, an interest in solving murders, and a champion for abolition. In the previous book, she became involved in helping her neighbor, Stapleton Henderson, solve his wife’s murder. Which has left them with kind of an awkward, tentative friendship. Neighbors who feel safe with each other, yet don’t necessarily trust each other fully, investigate another murder.
The murder happens early on, in the backrooms of the theater, and the victim is the third son of an aristocrat, working to turn his criminal past into a promising future writing plays to support his new wife. Abigail is an avid theater-goer, who is determined to figure out what happened and the identity of the killer. Henderson is intimately involved in the murder, as the wife of the victim is as close to him as a sister and she currently staying at his house.
This is a convoluted mystery, with many, many suspects and the politics of the abolition of slavery. Lady Worthing is in a tight spot- wanting to catch a killer, but knowing the likely culprit is the same man who is championing a bill she feels passionately about as a Jamaican woman. Her home has also been vandalized which adds a layer of fear that threatens her mindset. There is also quite a bit going on in her life, from the absence of her husband and her realizations about what that means for her future, to her tentative relationship with Henderson, and the ongoing turmoil within her family. I found all of it fascinating and loved how the author threaded all of the plot lines together until the very last scene and set up for the next book.
I’m fully on board with this building relationship between Abigail and Henderson. As a romance reader, you can feel the intensity and chemistry between them. Henderson’s protectiveness is warring with his respect for Abigail and her independence. Abigail is determined to be respected in a world where women, especially women of color, are maligned and marginalized.
I’ve truly become invested in this series and these characters. Make sure to read the author’s notes at the end, Vanessa Riley gives insight into the time period, characters, and her research.
Final grade- B