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Review of 'Chaos At Carnegie Hall' - Kelly Oliver

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

Chaos at Carnegie Hall

Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery series opener.

Can Fiona catch a killer and find a decent cup of tea before her mustache wax melts?

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

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Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first thing I need to say is that although it says it's the first in a series, Fiona Figg features in a previous series of books without Kitty Lane and if you haven't read them, I would definitely recommend reading them before you read this one. I spent the first several chapters of the book convinced I'd missed something important because there were constant references to a back story I knew nothing about. Ultimately, most of these references are explained, but it threw me because the tone of the references was such that it felt like it was information I should be aware of, which is obviously unusual in the first of a series.

That said, this is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through early 1900s New York and it kept my interest up to the final pages. Fiona is a likeable enough heroine who is constantly battling against male prejudice and her methods of outwitting her nice but fairly dim sidekick are entertaining, if a little 'suspend your disbelief' at times. I liked the little historical references that were interspersed throughout the story, as these lent credibility to both plot and characters and grounded the story in time. I found it very frustrating that the men didn't take Fiona more seriously - such were attitudes of the time - and this mirrored the character's own frustrations.

It was certainly a book which piqued my interest and I'll be looking out for the next one, as well as checking out the original series.

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

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