After a career in business common Nev Marsh decided to begin writing historical mysteries. She certainly is a success to put it mildly. Her first book, Murder in Old Bombay, was one of my favorite books of 2021 and won her some literary awards and many fans. She followed that book up with her newest, Peril at the Exposition, which takes place in the 1890s at the Chicago Worlds Fair. In order to do this Marsh moved her main characters from India to the United States after their marriage. The couple moved to Boston, Americanized their name and he got a job with detective agency. They are now known in America as James and Diana O’Trey.
The late 1890s was a hotbed of anarchism and Chicago was a city that was no stranger to this problem. The Chicago World Fair was a marvel and covered well over 600 acres of land. Many buildings, much landscaping, and many jobs were available to create this amazing event, and so people flocked to Chicago to try and earn a living. But that opulence also leads to disappointment, anger, as well as people trying to take advantage of the working man, as well as things that may go wrong in order that they might benefit. Jim goes undercover and he’s only supposed to be gone for about two weeks, but after five weeks he still had not returned to Boston, and after a mysterious letter is delivered to Diana she decides that she is going to strike out on her own to find her husband in Chicago. This is where the tale gets a little bit hard to believe because she is able to convince the detective agency to tell her where Jim is located, she boards trains and makes friendships they just seem a little bit beyond what a person would be able to accomplish in the limited time she was in the United States. Nonetheless she is a plucky lass and this book is really more about her and what she does to help resolve the case. Oh, Jim is in Chicago, but he is undercover and much of the action and plot is actually developed and resolved through Diana. Between the two of them the case is solved, the mastermind behind much of this is foiled, and as icing on the cake Diana is able to save the couples savings by making personal loans back in Boston.
While this it’s a good book, it is not as good as her first book. I truly had wished that the author had kept her characters, settings and plots in India because I don’t know a lot about India in the 1890s, but she moved them on and we lost a lot of the interesting supporting characters to helped make Murder in Old Bombay such good book. Now, to the authors credit, she does give us a new group of supporting characters but something doesn’t quite click for me. I certainly don’t mind that Diana is the focus of the book, even though I do find it a little bit beyond her capabilities, I begin to wonder whether the two of them are going to eventually open up their own agency or work together in future books. I do like both Jim and Diana as characters and I look forward for the next installment in this series and despite my little quibbles as to the plot and characters in the book, Nev Marsh is a fine writer, and I am glad she changed careers, and brought us such a delightful new historical mystery series!!