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Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman

(Lady Montfort Mystery #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  1,189 ratings  ·  238 reviews
Lady Montfort has been planning her annual summer costume ball for months, and with scrupulous care. Pulling together the food, flowers and a thousand other details for one of the most significant social occasions of the year is her happily accepted responsibility. But when her husband's degenerate nephew is found murdered, it's more than the ball that is ruined. In fact, ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Minotaur Books
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  1,189 ratings  ·  238 reviews

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Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... say first impressions are the most important, but I have to admit Tessa Arlen's Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman didn't make the most of the moment. I started the book on three separate occasions, each time setting it aside for something else. I don't mean to be harsh, Arlen's tone just didn't draw me in and had I not promised a review, I'm not sure I'd have stuck this one out. Thankfully, I'm a stubborn mule and I hate mi ...more
Tessa Arlen
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
The early 1900s in England before the Great War have always been intriguing to me, so it was easy to choose this era for DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN (the first in the Lady Montfort mystery series).

Life for the privileged few in the 1900s was idyllic thanks to their servants, their money and the rigidity of the class system, whereas the ‘have-nots’ had a much grimmer time of it. My two protagonists are from opposite ends of the class system, and struggle with issues in context with their t
Michelle Stockard Miller
What a delight this book was! It's Downton Abbey meets Miss Marple, for lack of a better comparison. Clearly, Lady Montfort is no Miss Marple. However, the tone of the book and the mystery, plus the partnership of Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson, hearkens to Miss Marple's methods of solving a mystery, or perhaps Sherlock and Dr. Watson's. I like historical mysteries like this, where everyone is a suspect, and the reader is kept guessing until the end. I really did not suspect who the murderer tur ...more
Amy Bruno
Jul 20, 2014 marked it as wishlist  ·  review of another edition
Tessa Arlen on Blog Tour with HF Virtual Book Tours, January 5-February 6, 2015!
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Combining the pleasurable dramas of the English country house novel and the richly detailed, tense atmosphere of a historical mystery, this involving debut features the unusual detective partnership between an aristocrat and her housekeeper. That said, the Countess of Montfort and Mrs. Jackson are not exactly BFFs. Tessa Arlen is too attuned to early 20th-century class distinctions to let that happen. When asked by her desperate employer to observe conversations below stairs at Iyntwood and repo ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
For those who are in the doldrums after last week’s final episode of season five of Downton Abbey and in need of another English country manor house upstairs/downstairs story, Tessa Arlen’s debut novel could fit the bill. Set at the fictional estate of Iyntwood in the summer of 1913, Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is a murder mystery in the grand tradition of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and P.G. Wodehouse.

I was deeply impressed with Arlen’s debut mystery. Her choice to have two women
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I had a real difficult time writing this review or starting it-if you will. I have two minds about this book. When reviewing a book that is a debut novel I take in a couple of considerations. Often times I come across debut novels that started off strong from the beginning and carried that same momentum throughout. For me, I have to say that this was not the case in this story. Now before you set a frown on your face, please hear me out. When I first saw this book. I was impressed with the title ...more
The introductory lines of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman immediately captivated me and made me feel as though I had been transported to the Edwardian era. In a story that feels something like Downton Abbey meets dinner murder mystery, the novel follows the upstairs society and the downstairs staff as everyone wonders if a murderer is among them.

Well, they sort of wonder. The dishonorable gentleman is so little mourned, even by his family members, that I felt little inspired to care what had h
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
A joy to read such a well constructed mystery. Arlen seems to have found her forte in the historical mystery genre.

Truly a delightful mystery set in early 1900's England, prior to The Great War. The myriad of twists will keep your attention until the end. Stellar writing with wonderful detail.

Arlen certainly performed due diligence in research, plenty of references scattered throughout the narrative regarding popular literature and authors of the time, suffragettes King Edward's consorts, Ballet
Robert Nichol
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It was a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time - I was privileged to get my hands on an advance reading copy of this fabulous book. I was looking forward to a two day journey on one of Amtrak's long distance western trains and I wanted a good read to keep me company. "Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman" was the perfect companion on my journey. Tessa Arlen has such an amazing gift of writing that brings her reader right into the settings. I remember still almost being able ...more
Mar 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: edwardian, mystery
Mrs. Jackson and the servants are busy putting together last minute plans for Lady Montforth's annual summer costume ball. The ball will be a great success, of course. Upstairs, the family is dismayed to learn of nephew Teddy Mallory's expulsion from Oxford for numerous misdeeds. This latest escapade was the final straw and Teddy will be returning to Iyntwood in time for the ball. Even Teddy's cousin Harry can't stand Teddy's lack of morals. Lady Montforth accidentally overhears a heated fight b ...more
Lelia Taylor
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: full-reviews
The Edwardian era has long been a favorite of mine as it is with many historical enthusiasts and even more people have been drawn to it by the popularity of Downton Abbey and the earlier Upstairs, Downstairs. Despite the glaring class differences in existence at the time, I think much of its appeal comes from the perception that it was such a peaceful, prosperous time just before the darkness to come and it seems to offer a sense of innocence that would never return. Perhaps that innocence is wh ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is not a "thriller" or even very fast-paced. It is a fabulous exploration of the personalities, cultural divides, and unlikely partnership between the lady of the house and her housekeeper. I thought the writing was fluid and beautifully described the scenes. I never once thought about a clunky transition or poorly paced paragraph. Even though the book is methodical in its exploration of the cultural themes and mystery, it feels like a normal pace, not hurried ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog-tour
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman Review I had really high hopes when I agreed to participate in the blog tour - and I was most definitely not disappointed. From the opening paragraph I was hooked and thoroughly immersed in the setting and the story.
The book begins as Edith Jackson, the housekeeper for Lord and Lady Montfort, is getting ready for a busy day of final preparations for the annual summer ball. The reader is introduced to the household, the servants and their roles and the family me
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The country estate, Iyntwood, home of Lord and Lady Montfort, is running smoothly as Clementine Elizabeth Talbot, the Countess of Montfort, is planning her yearly summer costume ball.

Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the 6th Earl of Montort, is a good husband, father and well-respected employer. However, he is not actually looking forward to the ball as it not one of his favorite things.

They have 3 children, son, Harry, who lives on his own, plus two daughters, Althea and Verity who no longer live at home.
The Lit Bitch
3.5 stars

This book began a little flat for me. It was partially the tone and partially the story/characters. I just didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters or the story right away. And this made me nervous.

It wasn’t immediately clear who the protagonist was going to be and while I suspected it was Lady Montford, I wasn’t entirely sure, so I had my reservations to say the least.

Some of the characters and event aspects of the plot were basic, stereotypical, and cliche. But I was still
Abigail Bok
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Lord and Lady Montfort are preparing for their annual June masquerade party at their country home. It is a famous and popular bash, but this year there's an additional fillip--a member of their family is gruesomely murdered. All the guests have to stay on for several days while the investigations proceed.

The era is more or less Downton Abbey/Upstairs Downstairs, and the author has done her homework, from the identity and politics of the prime minister to the agitations of the suffragists. Occasi
Nominated for the 2015 Agatha for Best First Novel, the first entry in the Lady Montfort mystery series was a strong one. The series is set in early 1900s England. According to the blurbs on the book jacket, it was billed as being sure to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey. Since I'm pretty sure that I'm one of about three people who have not watched the series (I know, I know...insert surprised gasp of horror here), I wasn't sure whether it would hook me in the same way. Any concerns were quickly ...more
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
An Edwardian mystery with a possibly surprising number of contemporary events; if, like me, you studied each event on its own, you may not have a holistic sense of the context. Tessa Arlen even manages to get in the traditional dig at France, with the subtle humor that's prevalent throughout the story.

The characters are well-drawn and true to their position (though my mind kept picturing Downton Abbey, which I hope the author takes as a compliment) and the awkwardness of cross-status dealings wi
Dana Stabenow
Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Upstairs Downstairs meets The Guns of August. Enjoyable example of a traditional British country house murder. The claustrophobia is equally prevalent both upstairs and down, and Arlen does a good job of showing the cost of murder on family and friends. Some great observations on life as it was lived there and then

With a large gloved hand Lady Booth indicated her daughters and the generations of marriage to cousins they represented.


"Indiah or Chinah?"
Clementine wished ardently that she lived
Chris Arlen
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a strong literary mystery with compelling characters and a wonderful couple of amateur sleuth. A Countess and her housekeeper solve a tricky murder at a country house weekend after the family's prestigious annual summer ball, unearthing the dark secretes of an array of fascinating guests as they go along.

Historically the novel is very well researched, with lots of references to the period that immerse us in the era. I found it far more interesting than an episode of Downton, as the chara
Maggi Andersen
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Exquisitely detailed story set in an English manor house in the early 20th Century, where there's been a horrible murder during a house party. The story is told through the housekeeper's voice and the lady of the house which I found quite novel. The privileged classes set against the those below stairs. The pace is rather slow but the characters were so good it didn't drag. Shades of Downton Abbey. Very enjoyable. ...more
Bailey Marissa
Very dull and try. Worse, it was hinted at that the reason it was solved was because the MC had money and was smarter. That was one of the prevailing thoughts of the time. If you're going to do that, own it - don't hint and keep it quiet. ...more
Maureen Lubitz
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on You Have Your Hands Full

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is the first book in Tessa Arlen’s Lady Montfort mystery series.

Lady Montfort loves planning her annual summer party. She is happy to have her son home from Oxford, as well as his childhood friends. However, things take a nasty turn when her nephew Teddy is found dead- gruesomely murdered, it seems. Lady Montfort saw her son arguing with Teddy and even shoving him. She knows that her son is not capable of such a hein
Judy Lesley
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book captures the best relationship I've encountered between the lady of the house and her housekeeper. Author Tessa Arlen hit that target spot on for me with Lady Montfort's easy assumption that she could ask for help from her housekeeper in solving the many mysteries swirling around Iyntwood. Also on target was the struggle Mrs. Jackson had with stepping out of the rigorous confines of her own position as housekeeper. Rules of conduct were put in place to keep upstairs and downstairs firm ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a perfectly pleasant historical mystery. It felt juuuust on the edge of a fair and solvable mystery (mostly fair but a few last minute revelations), but it was mostly a chance to relive Downton Abbey, which was a model it adheres to very, very, VERY closely. I had two central complaints. The author did a lot of solid research (particularly around food!), but there were some iffy anachronisms in the language of the characters. Things like the cook asking “what is up with her?” or the ear ...more
Nancy Cook-senn
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Characters are true to their class in attitudes and perspectives in this Edwardian Age domestic mystery, yet Lady Monfort shows a streak of independence and intelligence due to her childhood in India.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two very well drawn female leads, one the titled Lady of the estate, and the other her housekeeper. Pretty good (and mysterious) murder mystery, with lots of insight into the protocols of the time between servants and their masters.
Colleen Turner
The full review can be found at

Being a huge fan of Downton Abbey I was so excited to read this book, which sounded to me like a cross between that lovely show and the movie Clue (although I assumed, given the cast of characters, that Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman would be a little less campy and much more elegant then that particular movie). Who wouldn't love the opulence of a lavish costume ball tarnished by a vicious murder and two missing girls? W
Mar 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
From finishing Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, my takeaway was that the author did not grow up in England. I checked her biography and spot on: a resident of the United States. Now that does not necessarily make a difference on the quality of work that an author has, especially when writing on a subject or geographical location and culture they did not spend their life immersed in...but unfortunately, it did make a difference in this novel.

The names of the characters sounded unauthentic. The
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TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British Foreign Office official, was brought-up and educated in the beautiful Chiltern Hills of England, when she was not visiting her parents oversees in Asia, India and Europe. Her books are set in the pastoral beauty of her native England among its flint-stone villages, softly rolling hills, and airy beech woods.

Greatest influences on Tessa's writing are hands do

Other books in the series

Lady Montfort Mystery (4 books)
  • Death Sits Down to Dinner (Lady Montfort Mystery, #2)
  • A Death by Any Other Name (Lady Montfort Mystery #3)
  • Death of an Unsung Hero (Lady Montfort Mystery #4)

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