Dinner Most Deadly (John Pickett)
by Sheri Cobb South
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432830960
Date: 16 September 2015 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Love, murder, and Scottish law mix in Bow Street runner John Pickett's latest adventure, Dinner Most Deadly by Sheri Cobb Smith. A handsome rake, a love starved wife, a jealous husband, and a passel of would-be lovers complicate the murder of a man after a dinner party.
Emily, Lady Dunnington gives a dinner for Julia, Lady Fieldhurst and invites a group of potential lovers, but none appeal to Julia. Then, Sir Reginald Montague, Lady Dunnington's prospective lover, is killed and John Picket is called to investigate the crime.
As a roué, Sir Reginald left many broken hearts and sullied reputations behind, which provides a long list of women and men who had reasons to kill him. The list includes several men from Lady Dunnington’s dinner party as well as her husband.
During a previous adventure in Scotland, Lady Fieldhurst had used Mrs. Pickett as an alias to register at a hotel and avoid her straight-laced relatives. John had been sent there on a case and encountered Julia and her nephews. The hotel assumed they were man and wife. Under Scottish law by sharing a room, they were considered married.
Now John faces a cruel test of his love for Julia, Lady Fieldhurst. Grounds for an annulment are limited. A doctor must certify John is incapable of fathering a child, which means filing a false affidavit and making John an accessory to perjury.
Meanwhile, John has a murder to solve, and he sets about sorting out the suspects. In, the process he successfully pays cupid for others, but not for himself.
The novel ends with John and Julia's personal problems unsolved. The impossible romance between Julia and John stems from societal views in Regency England and class and economic difference. Whether the two can overcome these will have to be resolved in some future novel. Ms. South is an accomplished writer with both romances and mysteries set in the Regency period to her credit. Readers will look forward to the next John Pickett mystery to see if Ms. South can unite John and Julia.