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Friday, July 17, 2015

The Case of the Dotty Dowager By Cathy Ace

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

The women of WISE Enquires Agency represent the four nations of the United Kingdom and they are as diverse as their countries of origin. The four ladies are Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English, and the agency came to be after they solved a serial killing together. Just shy of its one-year anniversary, the enquiry agency has been hired by Henry Devereaux Twyst, the eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth. The nebbish longtime bachelor tasks the agents with determining whether a body disappeared from the floor of Chellingworth Hall or whether (as he fears is more probable) his mother is going senile. The fact that Althea Twist was the only who saw the corpse would lend credence to her being a little off her rocker, if not for the bloody bobble hat inexplicitly left behind.

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The Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth is not someone who appreciates being condescended to, so she’s more than willing to have the WISE agents investigate both her home and the Welsh town of Powys. What Althea doesn’t like is the influx of tourists who traipse through during Open Season. Chellingworth Hall is as expensive to maintain as it is rich with history and social prestige, and it survives only thanks to the six months it’s open to the public. When a million-dollar theft of a unique collection is discovered, the question isn’t so much by whom, but when.

Image source: Severn

Although the agents of WISE are dissimilar as a result of their different nationalities, those very distinctions make them uniquely perfect for their roles within the agency. The maternal and very pregnant Welsh native Carol Hill provides computer assistance from their Sloane Street office and dispatches the agents according to their particular skillsets. Working-class Englishwoman Annie Parker chatterboxes her way into being underestimated, Scottish retired army nurse Mavis MacDonald confidently carries authority and knowledge, while young upper-class Irish Christine Wilson-Smythe displays both diplomacy and social connections. Althea is herself a delightful character with a fondness for Monty Python and a distaste for pretension.

Author Cathy Ace has crafted a very fun and modern blend of mystery and Downtown Abbey, and the women of WISE prove to be funny, original, and always engaging. This is a very entertaining mystery that revels in the conflicts between classes and cultures within the United Kingdom, all while highlighting four very capable inquiry agents.

To enter to win a signed copy of The Case of the Dotty Dowager, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dowager,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 25, 2015. U.S. & Canadian residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. Thanks for that review. It definitely makes me want to read the book. I'm a very big fan of Cathy's writing and own a number of her books. I entered through your email address and I hope I get lucky.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading The Case of the Dotty Dowager too. I enjoy mysteries set in the U.K., and your review showcases some intriguing characters and situations.

  3. How great is that Title? Love it...Sounds wonderful..and I love stuff set in England.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  4. Sounds like this could be me someday!!! 8-))))

  5. I'm having a problem replying - many thanks to everyone for their comments - muffster, Marilyn, Allan and NoraA

  6. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher