The Key to Deceit by Ashley Weaver – ARC Review!

London, 1940. After years of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor—well, to themselves, anyway—Ellie McDonnell and her family have turned over a new leaf as they help the government’s war effort. It’s true that the straight-laced Major Ramsey didn’t give them much choice, but still, Ellie must admit she doesn’t miss breaking and entering as much as she might have thought. What she does miss is the challenge of unlocking an impossible code and the adrenaline rush that comes from being somewhere she shouldn’t.

So when Major Ramsey turns up unannounced with another job, she can’t say no. A woman’s body has been found floating in the Thames, with a bracelet locked onto her wrist, and a cameo locket attached to it. It’s clear this woman was involved in espionage, but whose side was she on? Who was she reporting to? And who wanted her dead?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Still on a high from solving her last case, and now working on the right side of the law, Ellie McDonnell is more than content with her life, but when the straight laced Major Ramsey turns up asking for her help with another case, she can’t refuse. A young woman’s body has been found in the Thames, and the bracelet on her wrist needs Ellie’s unique skills to open it. It’s clear from the contents this woman was involved in espionage, but for which side, and how far does the mystery go. Ellie will have to use all her skills and wits if she is to crack the case before the person she is looking for finds her instead.

If there’s one thing I love about this series it’s Ellie McDonnell. She’s feisty, quick witted, sharp and a woman way ahead of her times. She doesn’t believe she can do less because she is a woman, doesn’t believe she should be kept from danger because of her sex, and she isn’t afraid to stand up to the men in her life to prove it. She has a tragic backstory, but doesn’t let that stop her from living her best life and I absolutely love how she never backs down, even in the face of the stern Major. Her previous life of crime means she knows some people who fall on the wrong side of the law and these characters make from some hilarious and sinister additions to the story.

As well as Ellie, we have a strong cast of side characters that stay throughout the series so far, her Uncle Mick, friend and potential sweetheart Felix , housekeeper Nacy, and of course Major Ramsey and his associates. Though these books are super quick reads, Weaver still manages to spend enough time on building the relationships between her characters so you feel the familial bond, the potential for romance etc. And the character interactions, especially those between Eliie and the Major are some of my favourite parts of the book.

Similar to book 1, the story and mystery in this novel move at a pretty breakneck pace, and manage to keep you on your toes until the very end. Weavers plot twists, as well as foreshadowing are expertly used, and although I had a few guesses as to the outcome, none came close to the actual events. As well as the main mystery for each book, we also have one that interweaves through them, and that is the mystery of Ellie’s mother. Accused of murdering her father, Ellie is intent on investigating this herself, even though her mother is dead and nothing she finds could do any good. I love how this story line keeps the books linked together and hope it’s something that will get a bigger focus in books to come.

The setting of this book, London during WW2 adds an emotional and almost exciting aspect to the story. Because of the time it’s set, we know that Ellie’s work is vital to the war effort, and in this book this is shown more readily due to the inclusion of the bombings. Though it only plays a small part in the story, we show the emotional impact they had on people, and the absolute steadfastness of them to get back up and go and help those in need. Any of you that like a little romance in your stories, you should definitely check this one out. There is potential for a love triangle, something that I think will become a bit more prevalent in books to come, but I know whose side I’m on, something that Susan and I don’t agree on! While one of the relationships is developed in this story, the other gets hints as to a future and I’m excited and intrigued to see how the author will handle it in future books.

The Key to Deceit is a super fast, exciting and enjoyable historical mystery, with one of my fave MC’s as well as a standout cast of side characters and plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep you hooked. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

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