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A Soupçon of Poison

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Note: This work also appears in the anthology, Murder Most Historical and Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries. London, 1880. Kat Holloway, highly sought-after young cook to the wealthy of London, finds herself embroiled in murder when she’s accused of poisoning her employer, the loathsome Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury. Her only help as she works to clear her name Note: This work also appears in the anthology, Murder Most Historical and Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries. London, 1880. Kat Holloway, highly sought-after young cook to the wealthy of London, finds herself embroiled in murder when she’s accused of poisoning her employer, the loathsome Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury. Her only help as she works to clear her name comes from the mysterious Daniel McAdam, a handsome man-of-all-work who seems to know everyone and always happens to be in the right place at the right time. Kat and Daniel investigate the crime, but the mystery of Daniel’s background might be just as elusive and dangerous as the poisoner bent on framing Kat for murder.


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Note: This work also appears in the anthology, Murder Most Historical and Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries. London, 1880. Kat Holloway, highly sought-after young cook to the wealthy of London, finds herself embroiled in murder when she’s accused of poisoning her employer, the loathsome Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury. Her only help as she works to clear her name Note: This work also appears in the anthology, Murder Most Historical and Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries. London, 1880. Kat Holloway, highly sought-after young cook to the wealthy of London, finds herself embroiled in murder when she’s accused of poisoning her employer, the loathsome Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury. Her only help as she works to clear her name comes from the mysterious Daniel McAdam, a handsome man-of-all-work who seems to know everyone and always happens to be in the right place at the right time. Kat and Daniel investigate the crime, but the mystery of Daniel’s background might be just as elusive and dangerous as the poisoner bent on framing Kat for murder.

30 review for A Soupçon of Poison

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    3.5 stars I picked this up as I'm going to be reviewing the first full-length book in this series, Death Below Stairs, and several reviews indicated it might be a good idea to read this first. The mystery is a little weak and the villain comes completely out of left field near the end, but where this prequel really scores is in the setting-up of the relationship between the heroine, Kat Holloway, and the mysterious Daniel McAdam, a man who wears many 'hats' and who is very obviously not at all wha 3.5 stars I picked this up as I'm going to be reviewing the first full-length book in this series, Death Below Stairs, and several reviews indicated it might be a good idea to read this first. The mystery is a little weak and the villain comes completely out of left field near the end, but where this prequel really scores is in the setting-up of the relationship between the heroine, Kat Holloway, and the mysterious Daniel McAdam, a man who wears many 'hats' and who is very obviously not at all what he seems to be. Kat is no-nonsense and has a bit of baggage of her own (her husband was a git who ran off and left her to bring up their daughter on her own); she's obviously good at what she does (the descriptions of her dishes and recipes are mouthwatering!) and doesn't take any crap, but she's still a servant dependent on the whims of others and needs her position to keep a roof over her head and earn money for her daughter's keep. So - I'm intrigued by Daniel and definitely want to find out exactly who he is and what he's up to (I suspect we'll have to wait a while for that, though) and hope that the mystery in Death Below Stairs is more satisfying than this one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beanbag Love

    I love Ashley Gardner's (aka Jennifer Ashley) historical mysteries! Her Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries are must-buys for me and now the launch of the Kat Holloway Victorian Mysteries make me a happy reader indeed. This is a novella that introduces Katherine Holloway -- a chef for aristocratic households -- and Daniel McAdam, the friendly yet mysterious man who ends up being ever so helpful at crucial times. It's a neat little mystery with a decent introduction to the featured characters. I' I love Ashley Gardner's (aka Jennifer Ashley) historical mysteries! Her Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries are must-buys for me and now the launch of the Kat Holloway Victorian Mysteries make me a happy reader indeed. This is a novella that introduces Katherine Holloway -- a chef for aristocratic households -- and Daniel McAdam, the friendly yet mysterious man who ends up being ever so helpful at crucial times. It's a neat little mystery with a decent introduction to the featured characters. I'm very excited for the next installment. If you like mysteries in a historical setting, Ashley Gardner is a very good bet.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anne Boleyn's Ghost

    Putting this on pause for now. Since I caught up with the divine Amory Ames series, I've been craving another historical cozy mystery series. So what better than the Kat Holloway Mysteries? While A Soupcon of Poison is well-written, I'm finding it difficult to warm to the characters and the story, and my interest keeps wandering. Perhaps it is the novella format, as I tend to struggle with those. I'll try again when I'm in a different frame of mind. Putting this on pause for now. Since I caught up with the divine Amory Ames series, I've been craving another historical cozy mystery series. So what better than the Kat Holloway Mysteries? While A Soupcon of Poison is well-written, I'm finding it difficult to warm to the characters and the story, and my interest keeps wandering. Perhaps it is the novella format, as I tend to struggle with those. I'll try again when I'm in a different frame of mind.

  4. 5 out of 5

    RachelW (BamaGal)

    So Jennifer Ashley pulled out a very early try at writing, and polished it up for release...and I liked it. I especially enjoyed that Kat wasn't your typical heroine. This serves as the short prequel to Ashley's new "Kat Holloway" series; kind of a Victorian mystery with an Upstairs Downstairs / Downton Abbey type background. I enjoyed the mystery, and both Kat and Daniel. Kat is a master cook who has problems with the 'upstairs', and Daniel is somehow always there when Kat needs him. The book c So Jennifer Ashley pulled out a very early try at writing, and polished it up for release...and I liked it. I especially enjoyed that Kat wasn't your typical heroine. This serves as the short prequel to Ashley's new "Kat Holloway" series; kind of a Victorian mystery with an Upstairs Downstairs / Downton Abbey type background. I enjoyed the mystery, and both Kat and Daniel. Kat is a master cook who has problems with the 'upstairs', and Daniel is somehow always there when Kat needs him. The book calls him a jack-of-all-trades, I'm thinking maybe a Bow Street Runner detective. I guess we'll see as the series plays out... Thanks to DI for the loan. I wasn't really expecting this ss to be available to lend, much less to get a loan so quickly!

  5. 4 out of 5

    *The Angry Reader*

    I didnt care for the writing style. Or the mystery. But it sure makes the book I’d started make a hell of a lot more sense. And, come on, Daniel is a temptation I won’t currently resist. Although this could grow tiresome quickly if not handled right.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Review posted on Got Fiction? I saw a new Jennifer Ashley book coming up and I about flipped out. It’s Historical Mystery but with romance, I think. So I ran over to Kobo and bought the prequel, this novella, A Soupcon of Poison. We need more Historical Mysteries with Romance in the world! Kat Holloway is a cook, and she’s just taken a new position. It’s set in the 1880s, and Victoria is queen. With dukes and the Regency era being so popular, I was curious why she picked the Victorian era. Ms. Ashl Review posted on Got Fiction? I saw a new Jennifer Ashley book coming up and I about flipped out. It’s Historical Mystery but with romance, I think. So I ran over to Kobo and bought the prequel, this novella, A Soupcon of Poison. We need more Historical Mysteries with Romance in the world! Kat Holloway is a cook, and she’s just taken a new position. It’s set in the 1880s, and Victoria is queen. With dukes and the Regency era being so popular, I was curious why she picked the Victorian era. Ms. Ashley has mentioned before that she loves the new inventions of the Victorian age, and how it’s historical, but also can feel very modern. I emailed her a quick couple of questions, and I think I’ll just share her words. Q: Why the 1880s? A: Set in the 1880s. I picked the Victoria era simply because I like it. Much of what Kat does and what she cooks is very modern, but at the same time vintage, if that makes sense. It’s an era rich with history, and all the changes of the 20th century more or less started then. Q: This has a romantic vibe, but it’s not a romance. Will there be a romance in the series? A: Yes, the romance will develop throughout the series. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say you’ll see a lot of Daniel (and his son, James) throughout the series. Q: How would you classify this series? A: It is historical mystery. It will be shelved in the mystery section of bookstores. I call it a hist myst with romantic elements. Now that you guys have a feel for it, let me tell you that I really enjoyed having a bit of a different type of Historical. The cook, rather than the duchess is the heroine here. And like the in show Murder, She Wrote, Kate seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Between her practical sensibility and her curious nature, Kat makes an excellent heroine for this mystery. When her new master is found dead with one of her knives stuck in his back, well, things don’t look good for Kat. But with the help of her friend, and possible love interest, Daniel, Kat is able to figure out who really killed him, and why. But don’t worry! She doesn’t neglect her kitchen duties, and it’s really fabulous reading about the foods. Several times I wanted to eat what she’d made! The rich and savoury dishes were described in such vivid and lush detail that once or twice my mouth watered! I enjoyed this novella, and I definitely recommend it. Full of vivid descriptions, and intriguing characters, this is one series I’m definitely looking forward to reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    When I first started the Kat Holloway series, I knew this novella existed but decided to dive right into book one. And I regretted it. This novella gives so much back story and made me fall in love with the characters. Book one jumps in in such a way, you've already missed some of that back story. I highly recommend starting here. I decided to read this now that I have an ARC for book two, and this has me even more excited to get started. When I first started the Kat Holloway series, I knew this novella existed but decided to dive right into book one. And I regretted it. This novella gives so much back story and made me fall in love with the characters. Book one jumps in in such a way, you've already missed some of that back story. I highly recommend starting here. I decided to read this now that I have an ARC for book two, and this has me even more excited to get started.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Really wish I'd known about this novella prior to reading Death Below Stairs. I learned so much about Kat and Daniel's backstory. Now, I'm even more excited for book 2! PS - This novella is FREE in Ashley/Gardner's Captain Lacey (eBook 1) Really wish I'd known about this novella prior to reading Death Below Stairs. I learned so much about Kat and Daniel's backstory. Now, I'm even more excited for book 2! PS - This novella is FREE in Ashley/Gardner's Captain Lacey (eBook 1)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    Everything too easy, a bit too smooth (for its length), both for the murder resolution and the friend affair, with such a backstory it shouldn't be the case. Be waiting for book one. Everything too easy, a bit too smooth (for its length), both for the murder resolution and the friend affair, with such a backstory it shouldn't be the case. Be waiting for book one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    3.5 stars I don't read a lot of historical mystery these days -- I used to read Agatha Christie when I was a kid, of course -- and I know Jennifer Ashley writes one as Ashley Gardner, but that series has many books already and I feel too lazy to try catching up. When I saw that she would release a new one in early 2018, I decided to try this prequel. Well, I really liked it! I thought Kat was a tough woman!! I loved it when she was playing with her knives *amused*. And Daniel was pretty charming m 3.5 stars I don't read a lot of historical mystery these days -- I used to read Agatha Christie when I was a kid, of course -- and I know Jennifer Ashley writes one as Ashley Gardner, but that series has many books already and I feel too lazy to try catching up. When I saw that she would release a new one in early 2018, I decided to try this prequel. Well, I really liked it! I thought Kat was a tough woman!! I loved it when she was playing with her knives *amused*. And Daniel was pretty charming mysterious man. As a set-up for a series, this novella was able to capture my attention, all right! I want to read more about potential mayhem of murders that Kat gets herself into. Also Daniel, and James, and Grace!! So yep, I'm marking the first novel coming in Jan 2018 to my tbr.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    London, 1880 and Mrs Kat Holloway is cook to the demanding Sir Lionel Leigh-Bradbury. When he is found murdered with one of her knives in his back she is the one accused. Can her friendship with the mysterious Daniel McAdam help find the real murderer. I believe this is the first in a new series, looking forward to reading the next book

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Q

    3.5 Stars. Great characters, mediocre mystery. Though I really liked Kat and Daniel and the romantic tension between them, I was put out when the murderer was revealed because it turned out the reader never could have figured it out on their own, and that's annoying. Looking forward to book one though. 3.5 Stars. Great characters, mediocre mystery. Though I really liked Kat and Daniel and the romantic tension between them, I was put out when the murderer was revealed because it turned out the reader never could have figured it out on their own, and that's annoying. Looking forward to book one though.

  13. 5 out of 5

    ☕️Kimberly

    a nice intro to the series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I'm reading this series slightly out of order, so it was fun to go back and see the beginnings of things. Kat and Daniel, for example. Her story is already a wee bit complicated (the tangled web of her previous marriage, for starters) and his is...shrouded in mystery, let's say. Yet, I like these two together. Despite the mystery and secrets and whatnot. But this isn't ALL about Kat and Daniel's blossoming romance (or whatever you want to call it at this point). There's the small case of murder. I'm reading this series slightly out of order, so it was fun to go back and see the beginnings of things. Kat and Daniel, for example. Her story is already a wee bit complicated (the tangled web of her previous marriage, for starters) and his is...shrouded in mystery, let's say. Yet, I like these two together. Despite the mystery and secrets and whatnot. But this isn't ALL about Kat and Daniel's blossoming romance (or whatever you want to call it at this point). There's the small case of murder. And poison. And murder by poison. Which, as you can imagine, points a big finger at Kat as she was the cook for the meal that ended with two people dead. Fortunately for Kat, she has friends who know the sort of woman she is and they team up to figure out what actually happened. (Side note: going before a judge kinda sucked in Kat's time. There wasn't a whole lot of wiggle room for, you know, getting to tell your side of the story. Not fun!) I'm digging these stories about the reputable cook with a shrouded past and the people she accumulates through her fairness and kind heart. I also like Daniel and his knack for being in the right place at the right time. Good stuff! -Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    A Soupcon of Poison is sure to appeal to fans of the BBC classic Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey -- it has all the flavor of a period drama, with a twist of intrigue and a dash of romance. To be clear, the mystery here is not the main draw -- the resolution comes incredibly out of left field -- but I can forgive that for Ashley's crisp prose, sense of time of place, and characterization. Kat Holloway is independant and forward-thinking, a career woman out of necessity in a time where few op A Soupcon of Poison is sure to appeal to fans of the BBC classic Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey -- it has all the flavor of a period drama, with a twist of intrigue and a dash of romance. To be clear, the mystery here is not the main draw -- the resolution comes incredibly out of left field -- but I can forgive that for Ashley's crisp prose, sense of time of place, and characterization. Kat Holloway is independant and forward-thinking, a career woman out of necessity in a time where few options were afforded that allowed a woman alone to maintain a respectable independence. I love how Kat's profession affords her a window into the upper echelons of Victorian society, and her common-sense and razor-sharp observation skills make her a refreshingly relatable sleuth. I cannot wait to see where Kat's cooking -- and her relationship with the enigmatic Daniel -- lead her next!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lady Wesley

    4.5 stars rounded up because writing a satisfying novella is a rare talent. This novella was published in an anthology several years ago, but now it is repackaged as the "prequel" (hate that word!) to Jennifer Ashley's new Kat Holloway series about a Victorian-era crime-solving cook. Death Below Stairs will come out in January 2018. The publisher's blurb sums up the plot nicely, so I won't add much more, except to say that it is not strictly necessary to read this novella before Death Below Stairs 4.5 stars rounded up because writing a satisfying novella is a rare talent. This novella was published in an anthology several years ago, but now it is repackaged as the "prequel" (hate that word!) to Jennifer Ashley's new Kat Holloway series about a Victorian-era crime-solving cook. Death Below Stairs will come out in January 2018. The publisher's blurb sums up the plot nicely, so I won't add much more, except to say that it is not strictly necessary to read this novella before Death Below Stairs but you will understand the relationship between Kat and Daniel (her potential love interest) if you have read this one. Oh, yes, a warning: do not read when hungry. The scenes set in Kat's kitchen may make you drool.

  17. 4 out of 5

    CatBookMom

    This is pretty good, though the influence and clout that Daniel McAdam has is a bit improbable. Didn't notice any major bloopers, and I thought the means of poisoning was quite clever. The novella is in Murder Most Historical eta: This novella is also in Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries. This is pretty good, though the influence and clout that Daniel McAdam has is a bit improbable. Didn't notice any major bloopers, and I thought the means of poisoning was quite clever. The novella is in Murder Most Historical eta: This novella is also in Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries.

  18. 5 out of 5

    TheGeekyBlogger

    Read for Fun (Library) Overall Rating; 3.50 Character Rating: 3.25 Story Rating: 3.75 Quick Thoughts: Even though it took a bit for me to warm up to the characters, I really liked the mystery. I am looking forward to the series and will be looking to see if my library has the rest of them! #LoveMyLibraryCard #SupportLibraries

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This novella is a prequel to the Kat Holloway series that I planned to start reading. But when I checked reviews of the regular series, most said that it was best to begin with this introduction to the characters and their relationship to each other. I found this to be an enjoyable story with interesting characters and I will definitely be continuing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Oh this is a great beginning to Jennifer Ashley's new series. Sets up the relationship between Daniel McAdam and Kat Holloway. "Mrs. H." is feisty, clever and no one's fool. I like her! Oh this is a great beginning to Jennifer Ashley's new series. Sets up the relationship between Daniel McAdam and Kat Holloway. "Mrs. H." is feisty, clever and no one's fool. I like her!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Oh, loved this. I must read the whole series now. I love the writing of Jennifer Ashley. 4☆ 2nd reading: Still loved this as much. A very enjoyable read. 4☆

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lorena

    I started book 1 in this series, and then put it down after a few chapters and came back to read this prequel first. I think the backstory is really necessary to get the most out of the rest of the series.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gerrie

    3.5 out of 5 stars

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christa

    I've been anticipating Ashley's book, Death Below Stairs, but just as I was about to start it, I heard that it had a prequel novella. I was glad to hear about A Soupçon of Poison, which was published a couple of years ago, before I read the full length book. I feellike it had background that I'm going to be glad of having when I start the book. This novella was very quick and easy to read, and it gave a nice introduction to the main characters for the series. I liked Kat Holloway very much and am I've been anticipating Ashley's book, Death Below Stairs, but just as I was about to start it, I heard that it had a prequel novella. I was glad to hear about A Soupçon of Poison, which was published a couple of years ago, before I read the full length book. I feellike it had background that I'm going to be glad of having when I start the book. This novella was very quick and easy to read, and it gave a nice introduction to the main characters for the series. I liked Kat Holloway very much and am looking forward to reading about more of her adventures. I thought she was a very level headed and intelligent woman. Daniel was a real enigma, and I still don't know quite what to think of him, although I really appreciated the protectiveness he showed toward Kat. In this book, Kat, a cook for a London gentleman, is suspected when her employer is found dead. Daniel soon pulls strings to have the murder charge against her dropped, and they work together to figure out what happened. This short novella was interesting, had plenty of action, and great characters. I'm even more excited about starting the book now!

  25. 4 out of 5

    farR

    Quite unbelievable This, as I understand it was a "pilot" to a series. I had just completed another mystery series from this author (Captain Lacey mystery) which I loved very much. I am not sure if I wish to continue with this one. A cook, a below-stair staff gets entangled in solving her Master's household's affairs? That's hard to comprehend. A cook in a great house is expected to cook. I don't think she would have time for anything else outside her off-days. And it's definitely not her place to Quite unbelievable This, as I understand it was a "pilot" to a series. I had just completed another mystery series from this author (Captain Lacey mystery) which I loved very much. I am not sure if I wish to continue with this one. A cook, a below-stair staff gets entangled in solving her Master's household's affairs? That's hard to comprehend. A cook in a great house is expected to cook. I don't think she would have time for anything else outside her off-days. And it's definitely not her place to do inquiries regarding what's going on in her master's household. No matter how good the series might be this issues will always be at the back of my mind. And I would not be to get into it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jo (Mixed Book Bag)

    I read this after reading the first book in the Kat Holloway Mysteries. I wish I had read this first as there were hints about Kat and Daniel's relationship in Death Below Stairs, the first book in the series. I would have enjoyed that book more if I had had the background laid in this novella. I do love Kat and the mystery about Daniel's background begins in this novella. The mystery is interesting and has quite a few twists and turns. Kat is very strong and Daniel is interesting. A good introd I read this after reading the first book in the Kat Holloway Mysteries. I wish I had read this first as there were hints about Kat and Daniel's relationship in Death Below Stairs, the first book in the series. I would have enjoyed that book more if I had had the background laid in this novella. I do love Kat and the mystery about Daniel's background begins in this novella. The mystery is interesting and has quite a few twists and turns. Kat is very strong and Daniel is interesting. A good introduction to the new series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    I'm a fan of the Kat Holloway series and being a completist had to read the prequel novella. Kat is accused of poisoning her dreadful, handsy employer. Her friend Daniel helps her track down who else had a motive to kill him. The ending wasn't as satisfactory as I would have liked since it introduced a character that I didn't remember from earlier in the book. The more important part of the book though was setting the up the friendship between Daniel and Kat and seeing a bit of their history. I'm a fan of the Kat Holloway series and being a completist had to read the prequel novella. Kat is accused of poisoning her dreadful, handsy employer. Her friend Daniel helps her track down who else had a motive to kill him. The ending wasn't as satisfactory as I would have liked since it introduced a character that I didn't remember from earlier in the book. The more important part of the book though was setting the up the friendship between Daniel and Kat and seeing a bit of their history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    I'm glad I read this novella before I started book one in this series, like I originally intended. I love the self-assured, confident heroine, Kat. The fact that she has a daughter is awesome. I'm intrigued by the many layers of Daniel, sometimes a humble delivery man, sometimes a wealthy gentleman. The case of Kat's awful employer being poisoned, then her being framed for it was the bulk of this story. I can't wait to read more of this series! I'm glad I read this novella before I started book one in this series, like I originally intended. I love the self-assured, confident heroine, Kat. The fact that she has a daughter is awesome. I'm intrigued by the many layers of Daniel, sometimes a humble delivery man, sometimes a wealthy gentleman. The case of Kat's awful employer being poisoned, then her being framed for it was the bulk of this story. I can't wait to read more of this series!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Shropshire

    I read Death Below Stairs first, before I learned about this novella. The events of this story are alluded to in DBS, and as in DBS, Ms. Ashley has put together a well-researched, nicely written mystery story featuring Kat Holloway and Daniel MacAdam along with his son, James. I will be autobuying all the books in this series as they are my catnip in many ways.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    I have really enjoying reading the Kat Halloway series. For me they are a well written, cozy historical read. In this short novella, we learn about the circumstances where Kat was accused of a crime. This is mentioned in the other two books several times. I enjoyed it very much and will now be waiting impatiently for another book in the series.

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