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May 3, 2024

A Body at the Dance Hall by Marty Wingate ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

1922. Amateur sleuth Mabel Canning is surrounded by the bright lights of London as she chaperones a young American woman to a dance. But when someone is murdered, a deadly tango begins…

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical cozy mystery A Body at the Dance Hall by Marty Wingate
April 2024; Bookouture; 978-1835251980
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); cozy mystery

A Body at the Dance Hall
 is book 3 in the London Ladies' Murder Club series, following A Body on the Doorstep and A Body at the Séance. While I have read the previous books, you don't have to in order to enjoy this one. But they are quick reads and a lot of fun. If you enjoy audiobooks, I particularly enjoyed listening to book 1.

Mabel has settled in quite well to living in London and working at the Useful Women Agency. She gets on quite well with Miss Kerr who owns the agency and I wonder if Miss Kerr would have given the assignment to someone else had Mabel not been there when a client requested a companion for his American daughter who is visiting for the first time in 15 years. You see Miss Kerr has a personal history with the client. They are on a first-name basis and while Mabel's interest is piqued she is discreet enough to not inquire about the nature of the relationship. I think should this series progress very far into the future Mabel may wind up as Miss Kerr's partner one day.

Visiting all the sites of London may sound grand but Roxanne, the American daughter, is a bit prickly particularly as she may not have been told the whole truth about her father and mother's relationship and divorce. But soon Mable wins her over and Roxanne turns out to be a lovely girl. But this is a cozy mystery and everything can't stay rosy the whole time. Soon there's a dead body and no one saw the killer! But as we learn lies abound among the characters.

The mystery is enjoyable but I did work out who the killer was before Mabel, Park, and Tolly. 

If you like a little romantic relationship mixed into your murder mystery, then there is progress on that front with Mabel and Park. I do like Park - he reminds me a little of Darcy from Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness series and Captain Bryant from Helena Dixon's Miss Underhay series. He isn't intimidated by an independent modern woman and gives her plenty of credit for solving the mysteries herself.

Tolly, or Inspector Tollerton, even seems to be respecting her abilities which may bode well for WPC Wardle the only woman (that we see) at Scotland Yard.

While the male characters may have more progressive ideas on the role of women, there are plenty of historical details to put you in the period. I'm a hat person and I love all the descriptions of hats. I'm kind of mystified that someone would order bread and butter and call it lunch. Though it would be what people on a modest budget would eat during that time (I remember stories of people eating bread and butter with a little sugar sprinkled on as a meal and not as the treat I would have thought it to be).

If you are looking for a light read during the hectic run-up to the end of school or an early summer vacation, you should read this book.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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