Author: Allison Montclair
Series: Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery #4
Published by: Minotaur Books on Jul. 26, 2022
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Minotaur Books
Book Rating: 9/10
Allison Montclair returns with the fourth Sparks & Bainbridge mystery, The Unkept Woman: London, 1946, Miss Iris Sparks–currently co-proprietor of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau–has to deal with aspects of her past exploits during the recent war that have come back around to haunt her.
The Right Sort Marriage Bureau was founded in 1946 by two disparate individuals – Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge (whose husband was killed in the recent World War) and Miss Iris Sparks who worked as an intelligence agent during the recent conflict, though this is not discussed. While the agency flourishes in the post-war climate, both founders have to deal with some of the fallout that conflict created in their personal lives. Miss Sparks finds herself followed, then approached, by a young woman who has a very personal connection to a former paramour of Sparks. But something is amiss and it seems that Iris’s past may well cause something far more deadly than mere disruption in her personal life. Meanwhile, Gwendolyn is struggling to regain full legal control of her life, her finances, and her son – a legal path strewn with traps and pitfalls.
Together these indomitable two are determined and capable and not just of making the perfect marriage match.
Suspenseful, immersive, and engaging!
The Unkept Woman is a clever, mysterious tale set in London post-WWII that takes you into the lives of two main characters. Miss Iris Sparks, the former intelligence agent, now partner in a matchmaking service whose previous personal life may make her the primary suspect in the murder of a young woman with a complicated past, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, a young mother and widow who’s ongoing accidental associations with the criminal underworld may once again set back her struggle to regain the legal independence she so desperately desires
The prose is vivid and smooth. The characters are sharp, plucky, and intriguing. And the plot is a well-paced, entertaining mystery full of secrets, suspicions, espionage, duty, friendship, flirtation, duplicity, and fun.
Overall, The Unkept Woman is a rich, atmospheric, highly entertaining tale by Montclair that is the fourth title in the Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series and is also, in my opinion, the perfect choice for anyone who is looking for an amusing, lighthearted historical whodunit to pick up.
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.