Tuesday 26 April 2022


Book review: Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare [blog tour]

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare is not the first historical murder mystery I've come across that's set on a cruise ship. In fact, it's not even the first one I've read this year, as I also devoured A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle a few months ago (it must be the Death on the Nile effect). But that doesn't mean I enjoyed it any less. The setting creates the perfect backdrop for a "locked room" mystery; where readers get to intimately know all the key players one by one until they start becoming either a victim or suspect in a murderous game of cat and mouse. And, of course, there are plenty of clever red herrings interspersed into the story to throw both te characters – and the reader – off the scent of the killer.

It's 1936, and Lena Aldridge is a night club singer in London's Soho. Until Broadway impresario and an old friend of her departed father offers her the opportunity of a life time: be the star to open a brand-new musical on Broadway. It doesn't take much for Lena to decide to go for it, especially as it coincides with troubles at her place of work, making her desperate for a new life in New York City. 

The only problem is that she has to leave her best friend behind, who has just lost her husband under mysterious circumstances. But she encourages Lena to take this chance, and before Lena knows it she finds herself boarding the Queen Mary with Charlie Bacon, an associate of the Broadway impresario. Together they're tasked to mingle with potential investors for the show. After all, they're spending the voyage in cabin class (aka first class), and are surrounded by the rich and famous. People who, on the surface, don't seem to have a care in the world. 

But when Lena and Charlie are assigned seats in the restaurant at the same table as the Abernathy family, they quickly realise that trouble is brewing between the patriarch, his children, grandchildren, and the various carers they're travelling with. And they soon get embroiled in the complicated family dynamics, feuds and, ultimately, murder...  

I love a good Agatha Christie-esque whodunnit. From the set-up introducing the location, cast of characters, and their complicated relationships, through to the deceit happening under the surface, providing the perfect misdirections to conceal the murderer just long enough to put the protagonist in mortal danger and the reader on the edge of their seat. It's a formula that has stand the test of time, and for good reason. It makes for a hugely entertaining and gripping reading experience. And in Miss Aldridge Regrets, author Louise Hare has perfected the balance between teasing her audience with real revelations and red herrings; the flashback sequences adding an extra intriguing layer to the mystery at hand. 

And there was a secondary storyline that made this particular novel stand out from its peers. Lena's father was black and while she says that she is white passing, she struggles with her identity. She feels like she doesn't quite belong with the people in cabin class, yet she's also out of place when she befriends a black musician further down in the ship. This adds a really interesting layer to her character and it is eye-opening for a contemporary audience. Particularly because this wasn't an issue for Lena in 1930's Soho in London, but her new friend warns her that New York society is still much more segregated. 

Miss Aldridge Regrets pays tribute to the classic whodunnit, but with its own twist. This isn't just a murder mystery with almost unanimously despicable characters surrounding the protagonist. Author Louise Hare also deftly shines a spotlight on the limitations and prejudices of the time period her novel is set in; it's not just glitter and glamour. This creates a much richer backdrop, elevating the book from a fast-paced yet surface-level detective story to something more nuanced and complex. This isn't only an entertaining page-turner (although it's certainly hugely enjoyable), but it will also make the reader think. And those are the best kind of stories. 

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare will be published on 28 April 2022 by HarperCollins and you can order your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Blog tour stops for Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

This review for Miss Aldridge Regrets is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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