Death Sits Down to Dinner

Volume 2 in the Lady Montfort mystery series from Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press

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death-sits-down-to-dinner-with-new-blurb“Arlen conveys a genuine feel for Edwardian life in a grand manor house and takes the opportunity to exploit amusingly snobbish exchanges between the guests.” – Historical Novel Society

Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.


“Clementine has a head on her shoulders . . . [and is] as cagey as she is charming. A neatly crafted whodunit dripping with diamonds, titles and scandal.” Kirkus Reviews for DEATH SITS DOWN TO DINNER Read full book review here.

“The close, mutually respectful partnership between Clementine and Edith will remind Dorothy Sayers’s fans of the relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter, his manservant. Arlen does a good job of depicting a period when class distinctions have become blurred by new money and more-relaxed manners. The plot, which includes a slew of red herrings, builds to a startling denouement.”  Publisher’s Weekly for DEATH SITS DOWN TO DINNER. Read full book review here.

“VERDICT Real-life Edwardian personalities abound in this period historical, and the upstairs/downstairs focus delivers a clash of temperaments. This title is bound to appeal to fans of historicals set in this period and of such authors as Rhys Bowen and Ashley Weaver.” Library Journal for DEATH SITS DOWN TO DINNER


Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman

Volume 1 in the Lady Montfort mystery series from Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press

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death of a dishonora#B139E3Lady 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, Lady Montfort fears that the official police enquiry, driven by petty snobbery and class prejudice, is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect.

Taking matters into her own hands, the rather over-imaginative countess enlists the help of her pragmatic housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case, track down the women that vanished the night of the murder, and clear her son’s name. As the two women search for a runaway housemaid and a headstrong young woman, they unearth the hidden lives of Lady Montfort’s close friends, servants and family and discover the identity of a murderer hiding in plain sight.

In this enchanting debut sure to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, Tessa Arlen draws readers into a world exclusively enjoyed by the rich, privileged classes and suffered by the men and women who serve them. Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is an elegant mystery filled with intriguing characters and fascinating descriptions of Edwardian life—a superb treat for those who love British novels.

Praise for Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman

“Readers of this debut set in Edwardian England will feel as though they’ve stepped into an episode of Downton Abbey, complete with murder and intrigue upstairs and downstairs. . . . VERDICT Incorporating exquisite period detail into her well-mannered mystery, Arlen offers readers an engaging peek into the lives of upper and lower classes of early 1900s England combined with a little history interspersed. Historical mystery fans who want to know more about the period may wish to check out the author’s Redoubtable Edwardians blog (, which features articles about some of the colorful eccentrics of the era.”  – Library Journal


“4 Stars… “A gruesome crime occurs on a wealthy estate in this debut mystery set in 1912 England. In a time period where social classes were distinct and separate, a countess and her housekeeper cross class boundaries to investigate a crime. Good plotting and characterization drive the story, which is enhanced with vivid details of the everyday life of the privileged classes and their servants.” RT Review

“Arlen conveys a genuine feel for Edwardian life in a grand manor house and takes the opportunity to exploit amusingly snobbish exchanges between the guests . . .  the murderer’s identity remained an enigma to me, and that’s surely the sign of a good mystery.” The Historical Novel Society

“Lively… Mystery fans eager for yet another look at the quasi-feudal system that prevailed in England before WWI will be most rewarded.”—Publishers Weekly’

“‘Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman’ is a romp through England’s estate rose gardens and great halls, village pubs, and underground train stations. Arlen invests this tale with cosmopolitan details and desperate actions — and manners that range from naughty to exquisite — upstairs, downstairs and behind doors.” Bellingham Herald – West Sound Press Read more here.


“The lovely descriptions of the rolling green countryside around Iyntwood place us right into that glorious setting. Through its master’s thoughtful reflections on his “still-feudal way of life” while on a morning’s ride around his estates, we also get a solid sense of his family’s long-entrenched relationship with the land and his protectiveness toward his servants – even though, he admits, he “wasn’t terribly sure what Violet looked like. The book is full of these small but telling details. . . . In this not-quite cozy mystery, the resolution to the crime unfolds in a logical manner. Sufficient clues are planted to let readers guess the culprit a bit early. Since they make an impressive and successful team, I hope Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson will join their wits again in future volumes – in particular, it should be interesting to see how much the characters relax their social attitudes as World War I gets underway…” Sarah Johnson, Visit her site for more: at  Reading the Past

“Tessa Arlen has a worthy debut with Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman. With a deliciously gruesome murder and an unlikely pair of sleuths, this is a treat for fans of Downton Abbey who will want to devour it with a nice steaming pot of Earl Grey.” —New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

“A dash of noblesse oblige sparkles between the upstairs/downstairs world of Lady Montfort and her housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, as they work together to unmask the identity of a killer at large on the Montfort’s country estate. As sharp as a Nancy Mitford novel, Tessa Arlen’s sophisticated Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman deserves its place among the Great and the Good of classic mystery.”—Lyndsy Spence, founder of The Mitford Society and author of The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life.

“Thoroughly enchanting. Arlen’s debut will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, with its vivid descriptions, firm grip on the intricacies of the time period, and skilled portrayal of the often complicated relationship between upstairs and downstairs.” —Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby mystery series