Chaos at Carnegie Hall by Kelly Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Exciting cozy mystery set in historic WWI-era New York featuring espionage and murder.
Fiona Figg, a low-level agent in the British Intelligence Service during WWI, is assigned to shadow a former South African big game hunter suspected of being a German spy. As he is currently a journalist for an American newspaper, Fiona and her partner, Captain Clifford Hall, prepare to take a ship headed for New York City. However, before they leave headquarters, their commanding officer, Captain Hall, tasks Fiona additionally with escorting his niece, Miss Eliza Baker, to school there, neatly separating the girl from the company of an undesirable beau.
Once on the RMS Adriatic, Eliza reveals that the young man her family is trying to keep her away from is taking the same cruise. Between keeping an eye on the girl and getting the goods on another passenger, an American chemist collaborating with the Germans, Fiona discovers the man she loves is also on board. Fiona is pulled in all different directions, and they haven’t even gotten to New York yet!
Chaos in Carnegie Hall is a complex, action-filled historical cozy mystery set during the late 1910s and World War I. The U.S. is an ally of Britain but has yet to join the fighting in France. The luxurious shipboard setting and the descriptions of early 20th New York City are enchanting, and the author peppers the work with entertaining though admittedly highly fictionalized versions of historical figures.
Fiona is a likable and earnest young woman trying to do her part in the war effort. She is fully committed to doing what is right, and I felt her anguish over accomplishing her mission and following her ideals of what was right and ethical. I look forward to Fiona sorting out her feelings and relationships with Frederick and Archie. Clifford made me smile almost every moment he was on the page. I so enjoyed his sociability and his guilelessness. Eliza and her little dog, Poppy, were adorable. The appearances of the actual persons from the time added extra interest to the action, and I got a better feeling for the period.
The plot is not simply about keeping eyes on Eliza and Frederick, though. There are mysterious and puzzling deaths to investigate along the way. Fiona pulls out all the stops (and a few of her famous disguises) to get the information she needs, and Eliza surprises her (and me) by being able to efficiently lend a hand. Together they mount an effective investigation and get to the bottom of everything: murders and espionage.
This is the fourth book to feature Fiona and Clifford but the first to feature them with a new team member. It was my first book to read in the series, and although I enjoyed the story overall, for the best reading experience, I should have read the previous books first.
I recommend CHAOS AT CARNEGIE HALL to cozy historical mystery readers who enjoyed the previous Fiona Figg mysteries, WWI-era tales, shipboard stories, or New York City settings.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.