Book Review: A Rogue’s Company (Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery #3) by Allison Montclaire

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Pages: 352, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

In Allison Monclair’s A Rogue’s Company, business becomes personal for the Right Sort Marriage Bureau when a new client, a brutal murder, two kidnappings, and the recently returned from Africa Lord Bainbridge threatens everything that one of the principals holds dear.

In London, 1946, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau is getting on its feet and expanding. Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are making a go of it. That is until Lord Bainbridge—the widowed Gwen’s father-in-law and legal guardian—returns from a business trip to Africa and threatens to undo everything important to her, even sending her six-year-old son away to a boarding school.

But there’s more going on than that. A new client shows up at the agency, one whom Sparks and Bainbridge begin to suspect really has a secret agenda, somehow involving the Bainbridge family. A murder and a subsequent kidnapping sends Sparks to seek help from a dangerous quarter—and now their very survival is at stake. 

Things are looking up for Gwen and Iris in A Rogue’s Company, the latest Sparks and Bainbridge mystery by Allison Montclair. They’ve just expanded their marriage bureau and hired a new employee. Gwen feels she’s close to regaining custody of her son, and her relationship with her mother-in-law has become, if not close, at least no longer adversarial. 

The unexpected, and very unwelcome, arrival of Gwen’s father-in-law upsets them both, as it leads to trouble for Gwen, two kidnappings, and the making of some deals which may have long-term repercussions. Amidst this, Gwen and the her family are forced to reexamine the way their class views those of other cultures, and the way the British have treated their colonies.

While I love Gwen and Iris, Sally is my favorite character, and I was very glad to see him as an active character in this book. True, it’s still a case of him coming whenever either Iris or Gwen calls, but he seems content to hang on the periphery of their world, at least for now.

Iris is sassy, as always, but we do see a bit of a vulnerable side, as she faces what she had to do, and give up, during the war when she worked as a spy. She also interacts more with Gwen’s son, Ronnie, and we see that maybe she’s not the “tough broad” she makes out to be.

Readers may guess what’s behind the kidnappings before Gwen and Iris do, but the writing crackles, and the characters are so wonderful, that the mystery isn’t as important as the connections between them all.

Highly recommended, along with the rest of the series.

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