Monday, June 05, 2023

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: The Lady from Burma by Allison Montclair

The Lady from Burma by Allison Montclair (Minotaur, 2023) is the forthcoming fifth book in the very fine historical mystery series set in post-war London. People were still staggering from the enormous losses of the war and thousands were searching for a new purpose in life. Iris Sparks, recently of military intelligence, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, widowed by the war, were at loose ends when they met quite by accident. They established The Right Sort Marriage Bureau to help those seeking partners along the path to matrimony. Women were not seen as entrepreneurs then and they sometimes had trouble being taken seriously. But they had no shortage of applicants.

Their newest client is Mrs. Adela Remagen. Terminally ill and worried about the welfare of her socially awkward insect-loving husband after she’s gone, she arranges with the Bureau to find her husband a second wife. Mrs. Remagen dies shortly thereafter in what seems to be a suicide but quickly is shown to be homicide. Sparks and Bainbridge, appalled by the mistreatment of their client, immediately become involved.

An important second story line is the continuing attempt of Bainbridge to overturn the ruling of lunacy that has taken away every single legal right she has including custody of her son. She is at the mercy of an unsympathetic man who goes out of his way to remind her of her helplessness. Montclair does an outstanding job of highlighting the archaic laws of lunacy and how the legal system has been used to exploit and abuse women. The system still exists, witness the years-long “guardianship” of Britney Spears. It is a grim reminder of just how poorly the law protects women.

The murder and the motive behind it are one of the most deviously plotted pieces I’ve seen for awhile. Brilliantly done. The growing respect of Lord Bainbridge for his daughter-in-law is a pleasure to watch unfold. As always in these books, the post-war setting is authoritative and the characters are razor sharp. Highly recommended.


·         Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 25, 2023)

·         Language: English

·         Hardcover: 336 pages

·         ISBN-10: 1250854199

·         ISBN-13: 978-1250854193



Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

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