Author: Ashley Weaver
Series: Electra McDonnell #1
Published by: Minotaur Books on May 25, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Minotaur Books
Book Rating: 9/10
Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie’s cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick’s more honorable business as a locksmith can’t pay the bills any more.
So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned–until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police.
Ellie doesn’t care for the Major’s imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she’s eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she’s no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.
Clever, mysterious, and witty!
A Peculiar Combination is an immersive, suspenseful tale set in London during WWII that takes you into the life of Electra McDonnell, a part-time, talented safecracker who is recruited by the broodily handsome Major Ramsey to use her exceptional skills to help king and country retrieve some documents of a fragile nature before they can possibly be passed into enemy hands.
The prose is rich and polished. The characters are plucky, resourceful, and intriguing. And the plot is a well-paced, intriguing mystery full of suspects, deduction, red herrings, familial dynamics, espionage, duty, friendship, flirtation, secrets, and duplicity.
Overall, A Peculiar Combination is a vivid, atmospheric, highly entertaining tale by Weaver that is not only a fantastic start to the Electra McDonnell series but, in my opinion, the perfect choice for anyone who loves a lighthearted, amusing, historical mystery.
This novel is available now.
Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.