ASHLEY WEAVER – Death Wears a Mask. Amory Ames #2. Minotaur Books, hardcover, October 2015; trade paperback, September 2016.

   Although not intended, I imagine, for most readers of this blog, as a detective mystery novel, this is a book — as well as a series — that has a lot going for it. It has, first of all, a spunky heroine named Amory Ames, a young married woman who is quite at home in the wealthy upperclass set in England in the 1930s. She loves her husband, but he in turn seems to have a restless eye, a fact that causes a lot of heartache between the two of them.

   Lots of romantic conflict and stress, in other words, but what’s also of interest to modern day readers is that Amory has a growing reputation for solving mysteries. This, her second venture into solving a murder, starts slowly, though, as she is asked by a friend to find out who has been stealing some of her jewelry. A bracelet studded with fake sapphires is chosen as bait for the thief. And where? At as masquerade ball.

   Before the ball is over, however, a man is dead, but why? Did he confront the thief? He can’t have been the thief because he was in on the plan, and he knew the jewels were only paste. Surprisingly enough, the same policeman who was on the job in Amory’s first adventure, Murder at the Brightwell, manages to turn up again, but this time working for Scotland Yard.

   And since the world in which the murder takes place, that of the well-to-do and wealthy, does he ask Amory to snoop around and see what she can learn about all of the suspects, who are limited in number, but who live in a class that Inspector Jones can hardly expect to penetrate? In a word, yes.

   Overshadowing the case, however, is Amory’s problem with her husband Milo, who always has excuses for long stays away from home, and worse, has had his photo in the newspapers kissing a well-known French actress. Is a divorce in the works? On the other side of the coin is the attention that a certain Lord Dunmore is paying Amory.

   The mystery is complicated, but it’s nowhere near the level of that of an Agatha Christie novel, or even a Georgette Heyer mystery, both of whom are prominently referred to in the blurbs on the back cover. If you get the idea from the preceding paragraph that as much time is spent with Amory’s marital difficulties as with solving the mystery, I suspect that you may be correct.

   Personally, while I don’t know what’s going on with Milo — a theme that will assuredly be carried along in the next book — but I think he’s a dope to leave poor Amory twisting in the wind as he does.

The Amory Ames series —

1. Murder At the Brightwell (2014).     Edgar nominee for Best First Novel.

2. Death Wears a Mask (2015).
3. A Most Novel Revenge (2016).
4. The Essence of Malice (2017).
5. Intrigue in Capri (2017).