Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

How does a murder mystery play out when there’s no good guy to solve the puzzle? Miss Aldridge Regrets is an fun take on the classic Golden Age mystery novel, with a confined setting, a suspicious cast of characters, and a heroine who’s just as morally compromised as any of them. It stumbles in spots but stays engaging and is a great way to pass a quiet evening.

Running from a recent, murderous mess in London, cabaret singer Lena Aldridge jumps on an offer to headline a Broadway musical — supposedly a favor from an old friend of her late father. But once on the ocean crossing, Lena realizes she may not have left her troubles behind, as she’s drawn into the complicated web of the wealthy Abernathy family. When the patriarch is murdered in an all too familiar manner, Lena must work to deflect suspicion from herself. As more secrets are revealed, she discovers she’s in deeper than she’d thought — and someone is pulling the strings.

The story structure is awkward at times, with a parallel narrative of the events that pushed Lena to flee from London that, while well-told, doesn’t add much to the main narrative that we couldn’t have learned without it. Similarly, there are occasional interjections from the unknown murderer’s journal, which comes off a bit too cheesy and melodramatic for this slick tale — but then, this device rarely works for me. The main story, however, is everything an Agatha Christie fan could want, with a multitude of likely suspects, dramatic backstories and secrets, and a leisurely (but never boring) pace. Pure drawing room mystery (on an ocean liner). But one does wish a Hercule Poirot or Peter Whimsey would appear to lend some urgency to the case instead of just waiting around for someone else to die.

I was so excited to receive an ARC of Miss Aldridge Regrets, and though it isn’t perfect, I at least have no regrets about reading it! In some ways, it’s imperfections even make it more appealing, and I expect I’ll be mulling over the construction choices for a while.

Trigger warning for attempted sexual assault. While the incident is brief and not graphic, I found it quite upsetting. Hare handles it well but doesn’t pull any punches about the horror of the situation, which is only added to by surrounding events and tensions.

My thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

—b

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