Amory & her dashing husband Milo are back, and this time they are adding 1930s New York, complete with speakeasies and gangsters, to their detecting repertoire.
I’ve been looking forward to the 6th installment of the Amory Ames mystery series, A Dangerous Engagement, since January. Ashley Weaver’s series about a British socialite and her dashing, if somewhat ne’er-do-well husband, is quite possibly my favorite ongoing mystery series.
Weaver’s novels are classic mysteries in the style of the Golden Age, always with a high-society setting—seaside hotel, masked ball, country house, Paris, the theater, and now Prohibition-era New York—and peopled with a variety of suspicious characters, keeping me from figuring out whodunnit every time. The many period details she includes, from clothing to cars, create an engaging backdrop for her stories.
The book opens as Amory & Milo, with ladies’ maid Winnelda and valet Parks in tow, are steaming into harbor in New York. Amory is feeling a little worse for wear after a rough ocean voyage, but is looking forward to a relaxing time attending the wedding of her old friend, Tabitha Alden. Milo is unenthusiastic, to say the least, about attending a wedding where no alcohol will be served, but he has hopes for a little fun after the “dull business” is over. Unfortunately, that rough crossing was a pretty good indication of how the visit will go.
Amory’s excitement over being reunited with her childhood friend quickly turns to worry when she begins to suspect Tabitha is hiding something from her. And Tabitha isn’t the only character whose behavior is a bit shady. No one seems to know much about the groom, Tom, before he arrived in New York a few years earlier, and one of the groomsmen is reputed to have ties to a bootlegging operation. Even the father of bride is living suspiciously well for someone who lost a large part of his wealth in the stock market crash.
When one of the wedding party is shot dead on the front steps of the Alden home, Amory and Milo begin to feel as if they’ve wandered into an American gangster film. The police seem content to pin the murder on a low-level mob hitman, but Amory is convinced the crime was more personal. With Milo distracted by a new business opportunity, she seizes the chance to infiltrate the seedy world of jazz clubs and bootleggers in search of answers, despite Milo’s attempts to discourage her investigation.
If you haven’t read the rest of the series, don’t worry—you’ll be able to follow the story—but reading the whole series definitely makes for a richer experience. The evolving relationship between Amory and Milo is a big part of the appeal of these books, and reading them in order will help you appreciate that aspect. I’m excited to see where their relationship is going, especially after the revelation at the end of this installment.
On a totally unrelated note, I absolutely love the cover design of this series. I know, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that. But, really, we all know that’s exactly what we do, and these covers really do catch my eye.
• Update • I recently read the newest installment A Deception at Thornecrest and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’ve added it to the links below. So far the series is holding up well, and I look forward to the next book. I’ve also read the first in her new series, A Peculiar Combination, featuring a safecracker and a government agent and set during World War II. I highly recommend it as well. Weaver does a good job at blending mystery and romance, and this new series is very promising.
New to the Amory Ames books? Check out the whole series on Bookshop:
In a recent interview, Ashley Weaver mentioned that Milo is a very
polarizing character—people either love him or hate him. In fact, one
reader expressed hope that the next murder Amory investigates
will be Milo’s! What do you think? Are you team Milo or do you think
Amory should move on? I have to admit, I’m team Milo all the way.