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Death Below Stairs

(Kat Holloway Mysteries #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,528 ratings  ·  697 reviews
Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 by Berkley Books
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Jennifer Ashley Book one will be out early January 2018; Book two in July (2018).
Jenny Raith A Soupcon of Poison is the prequel as far as I can tell, though I haven't read it to see what it sets up for the series.…moreA Soupcon of Poison is the prequel as far as I can tell, though I haven't read it to see what it sets up for the series.

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
2.5 stars. This book started off much stronger than it finished.

I had an instant connection to this novel. I immediately loved the characters and found myself captivated by the Victorian mansion household and how it was run. It had such a “Downton Abbey” feel to it that I couldn’t help but love it.

Unfortunately, my connection was short lived, as the plausibility of the story became highly unrealistic once the crime was committed (about 1/3 of the way in). The novel revolves around a cook of a h
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a historical mystery which shows a great deal of research and thoroughness from the author. It is less of a whodunnit and more of a slow moving, character driven suspense. I especially enjoyed the delicious and lush imagery of the cook’s recipes and cooking and my mouth was watering the whole time I read.

I found myself to be slightly confused while reading - it reads like a sequel, but it is the first book in an upcoming series. There were certain plot points that I felt as if I’d misse
Diane S ☔
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 Oh dear, well...........I usually love Victorian mysteries. Liked that Kit was a cook in a wealthy household, upstairs, downstairs kind of scenario. When her young assistant cook is found dead in the larder, Kit tries to find out the who and why.

My favorite parts were the food description and learning about the inner workings of a largish household. This was such a scattered plot, too much happening, to much running here and there. A new job one she needs, and she has all this time to chase
This was a good start to what I'm assuming will be a pretty good mystery series.
I liked Kat.
She was cool under pressure but not in a superhuman way. She was just...competent.


Kat Holloway is a cook. An excellent cook.
But when she discovers her young assistant dead, she sets about trying to solve her murder with the help of her love interest.
There is much more to her story, but I think you should read it for yourself.
If you're looking for a good cozy mystery set in the days of Queen Victoria, th
Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc

✮✮✮ 4.5 STARS ✮✮✮

Review @ Vanilla & Spice Books

Jennifer Ashley is one of my favorite HR authors and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is one of my top three all time favorites. Under her pen name Ashley Gardner she writes a similar series like this one, Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries.

Heads up right away: this isn't romance although it does have romantic elements and I'm pretty confident that those will become more significant in later installments. It is a historical mystery, set in the
Holly  B


This book didn't work for me.

It is a cozy/mystery with a Victorian setting with a mansion fully staffed with cooks, servants, footman, butlers, etc. I liked learning about them as well as Lord Rankin and his family that owned the house. I liked the cook, Kat Holloway and found her character interesting, but when she began running around investigating crimes, and looking for suspects, the story took a downward spiral! Obviously, she would not have time on her hands for all the shenanigans tha
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Kat Holloway is employed as the head cook for Lord Rankin in London. She finds the family members to be a bit odd with Lord Rankin spending his time involved in secretive financial matters. His wife rarely leaves her bed and appears to be depressed. His eccentric unmarried sister in law also lives with them and enjoys dressing in men’s clothing. Kat accepts her employer's faults and continues to excel at her job. When she gets a day off, she travels to visit her young daughter. One day Kat’s ass ...more
Jennifer Ashley
Mar 28, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
The first book in the new Kat Holloway Victorian mysteries. Pub date January 2018, with book 2 to follow closely behind it! The novella, Soupcon of Poison, I am now calling a "prequel," and letting the first full-length book (Death Below Stairs) be Book 1. Author name for this series is now Jennifer Ashley (was Ashley Gardner, but publisher wanted JA). ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really miss Downton Abbey. So when I saw the description of this book, I jumped right on it! I loved all the descriptions of the workings of Lord Rankin's household....the meals, the running of a large house, the different servants and the family members, and all the Victorian trappings. Add a murder mystery and treason to the mix, and it's a very suspenseful and fun romp.

The basics: Kat Holloway is hired as a cook in Lord Rankin's household. Things seem a bit strange, but she's so happy to h
I had a strong connection to this story from the start. It had a classic murder mystery feel but based in a "Downtown Abbey" flair. The pace was quick and engaging but then it stalled. Pushing on, I'm happy to say that it came back once again strong, providing a white-knuckle reading straight through the conclusion.

I received this ARC copy of Death Below Stairs from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Death Below Stairs is set for publication Jan. 2, 2018.

My Rating:
I've given this a B- at AAR, so that's 3.5 stars rounded up

Jennifer Ashley is the author of a number of very popular historical romances about the various members of the MacKenzie family as well as of the Captain Lacey series of historical mysteries, which she publishes as Ashley Gardner.  I confess that I haven’t read any of the Captain’s regency-set adventures, but as I enjoy historical mysteries, I was intrigued to see that Ms. Ashley is launching a new series set in Victorian England and
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
What a novelty! The heroine, Kat, is a cook!!! And a chef too!!! Yeah!!!

I loved all the descriptions of how the food was cooked! And I loved how she organized the cooking process! Much better than I’m able to do! But, in my favor, I don’t have helpers like she did! LOL

A very cute and a joy to read little mystery, little love story, little insight of household servant’s life!

Also the hero, Daniel, with all his secrets, was a very interesting character. Who is he really? Why people obey him? He ch
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dtb-book
A pretty good entertaining start to a series and one I would happily continue with.
Review written January 5, 2018

3.7 Stars - Simply fun, thrilling and lovely

Written by a favorite author Jennifer Ashley (Ashley Gardner) and I was once again surprisingly hooked by a novel by her. I was listening to the (newly published) audiobook, 9:28 hours very well narrated by Anne Marie Piazza, in a two day rush. Wow, it isn’t often I finish a book so fast nowadays.


Set in London 1881 ..

A mystery with a female main character, a cook Kat Holloway
Jody McGrath
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really great book. I loved all the historical descriptions and the mystery. I was so caught up in the red-herring I forgot about the mystery, lol! I definitely recommend this book!

I would strongly suggest you read the short story A Soupçon of Poison before you read this first in the series full length novel. I didn't and I feel like I missed a lot of the chemistry between characters being set up, and a lot of the backstory being told in full. The backstory is all sort of recapped in t
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
First I must tell you there is a prequel to this story. A Soupçon of Poison and while it isn't necessary to read it, it does offer an intro to principal characters and is one I recommend. You will quickly learn that Kat has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies.

Mrs. Kat Holloway is one of the youngest cooks in London and comes highly recommended. In Death Below Stairs, she takes a position in the Mayfair district in the home of Lord Rankin. The household is quite odd, from the fragile Lady Ranki
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this a very confusing read and not at all like the first in a series. Have since discovered that there is a prequel, "A Soupcon of Poison," available. As I like to read books in order, I might return and read that first, then give this another try, as I felt as though I had stepped into the middle of a series... ...more
Jenny Q
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Given the popularity of contemporary food-themed mystery series, it's about time someone brought that trend to historical fiction. As a big fan of Jennifer Ashley's MacKenzie & McBrides historical romance series, I had high hopes for Death Below Stairs, and I was not disappointed!

I do recommend you begin with the novella that kicks this series off, A Soupçon of Poison. Originally written as a stand-alone for a historical mystery anthology, it perfectly introduces our heroine, London chef Kat Hol
Anna's Herding Cats

Reviewed for herding cats & burning soup.

I just adore Jennifer Ashley's books and getting to jump into a new series? Yes, please!

Death Below Stairs was a fun adventure with a no nonsense cook and a squirly acquaintance who pull together a ragtag group of eccentrics to save the world! LOL Well, okay just a small part of it, but still!

The Gist: Kat has started a new job as a household cook and her first week? Well one of the young maids is murdered right in the house!
RachelW (BamaGal)
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Full review...

This is the first full length book in this Victorian era series, which began with a short story prequel. I've become quite taken with Kat Holloway; a master cook who rules the kitchen in Society digs. Downton Abbey in London, as it were. Kat seems to get herself mixed up in murder and mayhem on a regular basis, however, and relies on the mysterious Daniel McAdam for assistance when she begins poking her nose into these crimes.

Daniel is all too willing to become involved in Kat's d
Barbara Rogers
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Series: Kat Holloway #1
Publication Date: 1/2/18

Wow! Just WOW! I love Jennifer Ashley’s writing but was a little concerned about whether I’d like this book and series or not – simply because it takes place at a time later than I usually enjoy reading - 1881. Color me pleased and full of enjoyment! I greatly admire Kat Holloway who is NOT your standard heroine in a novel. I was also concerned about how a cook in a very busy and demanding household was going to manage to have time to flit about Eng
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Yay, I have another great heroine to add to the list of my favorite female sleuths! Death Below Stairs is the first book in the new Victorian murder mystery series featuring Kat, a young cook working for a British upper class family and her sleuthing partner, mysterious jack-of-all-trades, Daniel McAdam. I loved this promising sleuthing duo and cannot wait to follow their future investigations. I am looking forward to reading the second book, Scandal Above Stairs.

*ARC provided by the pu
First Sentence: I had not been long at my post in Mount Street, Mayfair, when my employer’s sister came to some calamity.

Cook Kat Holloway has a new position in the home of Lord Rankin. He’s not a man you’d trust with the young maids, but would he really have killed a young Irish kitchen maid? With the help of Daniel McAdam, who is far more than he appears to be, and his son James, a plot is uncovered that extends far beyond the household.

Ashley creates a very strong sense of place, down to th
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
After enjoying the prequel novella, A Soupcon of Poison, that introduced independent, no-nonsense, and superior cook, Kat Holloway, and the more than he seems, man of all work, Daniel McAdam, I was eager to press forward to a full-length story in the series.

Death Below Stairs takes place a few months after the events of the prequel and finds Kat accepting the position of cook in a new household that is not entirely the proper Victorian family it seems from the outside. Within the first twenty-fo
Giselle Bradley
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked this! Such a fun book!
Kathy Martin
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kat Holloway is a young woman who is a cook. She has worked for a number of homes in Mayfair. Now she has accepted employment in the house of Lord Rankin, a prominent financier and his wife. Also in the household is his sister-in-law Lady Cynthia who enjoys dressing like a man.

She is only in the household one day when she steps into her larder and finds her cook's assistant Sinead beaten to death. Kat immediately contacts her mysterious friend Daniel McAdam who can mingle with all layers of soc
Delightfully dark and peppered with slight humor, Death Below Stairs was a good first installment in Jennifer Ashley’s new Victorian mystery series.

The mystery starts almost immediately with the death of a maid in the Rankin mansion, Kat’s newest place of employment. Everyone is under suspicion, as seemingly everyone had means and opportunity to commit the crime. Kat takes personal responsibility for the maids death because caring and sweet soul that she is, that’s just her nature, and she make
Blodeuedd Finland
It seems that you met Kat and McAdam in a prequel novella, and I do detest those. This is the first book, f the prequels. But sure it works fine without it, but I did feel like I lost out why they liked each other.

Kat starts a new job. She is a excellent cook and every dish she serves sounds so yummy. As yes, they are talked about.

Her new employer seems to be a d*ck. Ugh, do not work for him!

Her new assistant is murdered, and Kat just started this bloody job the day before! But she is a smart wo
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full of elements of romance and dynamic characters. I was emersed in the Victorian times setting. A complex, multi-layered plot. Non-stop suspense.
Kat Holloway is a cook for the Lord and Lady Rankin.
Kat is a sympathetic character with heart.She is not unlike your modern-day sleuth. With a willingness to solve a murder. No matter what the cost. The ending left me unsettled. I later realize that it would possibly be an absolution to a crime committed in that time. I look forward to reviewing the
Christa Schönmann Abbühl
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-audio
The four stars are for the setting, the characters and the audio narration.
The plot was ok, but did not always keep my attention.
It was great reading about a cook as a mystery solving heroine. I loved her no nonsense attitude and her obvious intelligence, her competence and her integrity.
What there is of romance was nice. I enjoy a couple who is a bit older, with life experiences and hidden depths.
I also felt that the psychological aspects were dealt with in a very realistic manner: how peopl
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NY Times Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley writes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance, historical mysteries, and urban fantasy as Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James, and Ashley Gardner.

Jennifer's novels have been translated into many different languages, and earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher's Weekly. More about her books at and http://gard

Other books in the series

Kat Holloway Mysteries (5 books)
  • Scandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #2)
  • Death in Kew Gardens (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #3)
  • Murder in the East End (Kat Holloway Mysteries #4)
  • Death at the Crystal Palace (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #5)

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“Simple explanations are usually the wisest ones - a person can complicate a straightforward situation with unnecessary dramatics and end up in a complete mess.” 2 likes
“. . . I easily put together turbot in a butter sauce and an almond soup made from mutton I'd left to boil with spices, pulverized almonds, and leftover chopped boiled eggs from breakfast. No food need be wasted when it can be turned into a tasty soup.

For meat I gave the family pork cutlets that had been boiled then fried quickly with breadcrumbs and butter and a little onion Mary had chopped. Then greens - dandelion, chervil, and lettuce - served warm with butter and a sprinkling of new cheese, peas with a bit of ham, all accompanied by my crusty bread that Mary had baked at the correct time. She was learning quickly, I was happy to see.

For pudding I sent up fruit and cheese as I'd had no time to prepare a tart or cake. I could only do so much.”
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