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The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author's signature wit. Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author's signature wit. Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more. So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can't resist. All goes as planned--until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police. Ellie doesn't care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.


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The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author's signature wit. Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author's signature wit. Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more. So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can't resist. All goes as planned--until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police. Ellie doesn't care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.

30 review for A Peculiar Combination

  1. 5 out of 5

    Blaine DeSantis

    Thanks to NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. Fans of Ashley Weavers “Armory Ames” series of mysteries are rejoicing at her newest heroine, Electra McDonnell, and for new readers this series should be a real treat. Having never read any of the Armory Ames book, I was unaware of the authors abilities with regard to plot, character development and plausible mystery resolution. Fear not! Ashley Weaver has done a great job in Thanks to NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. Fans of Ashley Weavers “Armory Ames” series of mysteries are rejoicing at her newest heroine, Electra McDonnell, and for new readers this series should be a real treat. Having never read any of the Armory Ames book, I was unaware of the authors abilities with regard to plot, character development and plausible mystery resolution. Fear not! Ashley Weaver has done a great job in all aspects of this book. We are introduced to Electra (who goes by the name Ellie) and the action begins on page 1, as she and her Uncle Mick are breaking into a house in order to open a safe and steal the items that were left there while the family was away. Yes, Ellie is a safecracker and thief, and as she and Uncle Mick are leaving the residence, during the London blackout, they are apprehended and taken to a non-police location. Who apprehends them? Why were they stopped? Are their lives in danger? All these thoughts go through Ellie and our minds. It is there that we meet Major Ramsey who gives Ellie and offer. Help open and safe and steal the contents, or be turned over to the police and go to jail. Ellie quickly decides to help the Major and the plot heats up. Things don’t go as planned, and now Ellie is working for British Military Intelligence as she and Major try and discover what happened to the contents of the safe and how can they get them back and keep them from being placed in the hands of German spies. This in turn allows Weaver to introduce some additional characters, as well as mild romantic undertones and some truly comic scenes. Before we know it Ellie is escorting Major Ramsey to a private function to view Chinese Porcelain and to scope out the 5 or 6 potential suspects who could have the secret items in their possession and are ready to betray their country since they feel there is little hope in stopping Hitler. But Ellie’s family and contacts now provide the Major with a most unlikely army of thieves and the story never falters. Totally believable, with fun and interesting characters and a definite inkling that there will be more espionage in store for Ramsey, Ellie and the most unlikely, and loveable, group of thieves that are all needed to do their part to help the British war effort. This review was previously published at www.mysteryandsuspense.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anna Lee Huber

    A cracking good mystery! A Peculiar Combination, the first in a new series, proves that Weaver’s writing chops are as strong as ever. She introduces readers to a smart and gutsy new heroine, and takes them on an adventure filled with clever twists, flourishes of romance, and her signature sparkling wit.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    To have the ears of a CEO and the fingertips of an angel is the dream of any safecracker. Producing product is the ultimate goal. Electra "Ellie" McDonnell has been groomed by the best. Uncle Mick is an Irish locksmith who's been working the streets of London for many years leading up to August of 1940. But his talents often lead him to the backstreets as well. It's wartime in England and there's many an abandoned house of the wealthy with a safe behind a cultured work of art. Ellie is a crackerj To have the ears of a CEO and the fingertips of an angel is the dream of any safecracker. Producing product is the ultimate goal. Electra "Ellie" McDonnell has been groomed by the best. Uncle Mick is an Irish locksmith who's been working the streets of London for many years leading up to August of 1940. But his talents often lead him to the backstreets as well. It's wartime in England and there's many an abandoned house of the wealthy with a safe behind a cultured work of art. Ellie is a crackerjack when it comes to listening carefully to the clicks in her ear. Within seconds, she can pop open the highest grade locks. And someone has been listening to the movements of Ellie and Mick this very night. They're loaded into a black car and taken to a secret location. And a deal is made to avoid prison. Ellie and Mick will cooperate with Major Gabriel Ramsey and his crew of the British government. Sworn to secrecy, they will use their street-wise talents to serve as agents acquiring documents stored in a safe. Easy enough? Not quite so fast. Major Ramsey suspects that the Germans have been assisted by Londoners themselves.....high ranking Londoners. Ellie will serve as a ficticious society woman to gain the trust of these infiltrators. And our girl Ellie is good at what she does. But as the circle of contacts widens, who exactly can Ellie trust as she enters deeper into this pit of vipers? A Peculiar Combination is quite the creative and original read. Who better than criminals themselves to break through the complexities of what lies behind that aforementioned artwork? Ashley Weaver incorporates the reality of Nazi sympathizers gaining ground in London about this time. Many were Chamberlain appeasers in regard to Germany who didn't like Churchill at all. I see that Ashley Weaver has her eyes set on a series involving Ellie McDonnell. To be sure, it beckons the reader to a bright future involving espionage and regular people with finely tuned talents of the criminal persuasion. Cat burglars who are destined to catch their mouse. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Ashley Weaver for the opportunity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    From my endorsement: A wonderfully unique take, A Peculiar Combination is a standout in the historical fiction genre with its dash of romance and adventure, its winsome narrator in the irrepressible Ellie and the marvellously detailed rendering of London during the Blitz. Destined to stand-out in a sea of World War II era fiction, Weaver’s intelligent banter and pitch-perfect research make for an utterly immersive story certain to thrill fans of Kate Quinn and Susan Elia MacNeal. I LOVE LOVE LOVE From my endorsement: A wonderfully unique take, A Peculiar Combination is a standout in the historical fiction genre with its dash of romance and adventure, its winsome narrator in the irrepressible Ellie and the marvellously detailed rendering of London during the Blitz. Destined to stand-out in a sea of World War II era fiction, Weaver’s intelligent banter and pitch-perfect research make for an utterly immersive story certain to thrill fans of Kate Quinn and Susan Elia MacNeal. I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS BOOK TO PIECES

  5. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    A Peculiar Combination, first in a thrilling new series by Ashley Weaver, had me at the first click of a safe being picked! Electra McDonnell and her uncle Mick are caught soon after they steal jewels from a safe in an upscale house. Turns out, they were set up by a secret branch of the British government, seeking safecrackers they can use in the war against the Nazis. I adored gutsy Electra, her handsome love interest, the atmosphere of espionage, and the deftly written tale that made me gasp wh A Peculiar Combination, first in a thrilling new series by Ashley Weaver, had me at the first click of a safe being picked! Electra McDonnell and her uncle Mick are caught soon after they steal jewels from a safe in an upscale house. Turns out, they were set up by a secret branch of the British government, seeking safecrackers they can use in the war against the Nazis. I adored gutsy Electra, her handsome love interest, the atmosphere of espionage, and the deftly written tale that made me gasp when unraveled. Perfect for fans of feisty female characters, gripppng hist fic, and romance that hints at much much more. Highly recommended! 5 of 5 Stars Pub Date 25 May 2021 #APeculiarCombination #NetGalley Thanks to the author, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the first book in the new Electra McDonnell series, which is set in World War II England. Electra (Ellie) belongs to a family of thieves. Her Uncle Mick is a master safecracker, and she and her cousins, Toby and Colm, have learned everything they know from him. With Toby and Colm off fighting in the war, it is up to Ellie and Uncle Mick to keep supporting the family. When a house robbery goes bad, Ellie finds herself working for a government official, M A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the first book in the new Electra McDonnell series, which is set in World War II England. Electra (Ellie) belongs to a family of thieves. Her Uncle Mick is a master safecracker, and she and her cousins, Toby and Colm, have learned everything they know from him. With Toby and Colm off fighting in the war, it is up to Ellie and Uncle Mick to keep supporting the family. When a house robbery goes bad, Ellie finds herself working for a government official, Major Ramsey, in order to keep herself and Uncle Mick out of jail. Their first mission leads to more as it becomes clear a traitor is at work and German spies are involved. This is an engaging and addictive historical thriller with a touch of romance. I immediately connected with these characters, especially Ellie and Uncle Mick. Ellie is an intriguing and complex individual. She is a thief and safecracker, but has also been to finishing school. She can operate in any level of society, which makes her a perfect thief and a perfect spy. Uncle Mick is a locksmith by day and safecracker by night, but he has a moral code, even as a thief, that he will not break. He has passed that code onto Ellie. Ellie’s missions into high society with the Major are thrilling and fun to watch. They are a reminder that World War II was also fought silently by spies on both sides. Fans of historical thrillers and strong female characters are going to love this World War II spy adventure. Highly recommend. I received a free copy of this book from Minotaur Books for review in Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joan Happel

    What do you get when you combine a feisty, safe-cracking heroine and a uptight, ram-rod straight army intelligence major? A can’t miss combination of mystery, romance, and historical fiction. Set in London during WWII, this new series introduces Electra “Ellie” McDonnell, who along with her uncle Mick make part of their living breaking into the houses of those who have fled the city for the safer environs of the countryside. Their current job seems too easy, and it is. They are set up by Major G What do you get when you combine a feisty, safe-cracking heroine and a uptight, ram-rod straight army intelligence major? A can’t miss combination of mystery, romance, and historical fiction. Set in London during WWII, this new series introduces Electra “Ellie” McDonnell, who along with her uncle Mick make part of their living breaking into the houses of those who have fled the city for the safer environs of the countryside. Their current job seems too easy, and it is. They are set up by Major Gabriel Ramsey, who needs just their particular talents. He requires help breaking into the safe of a traitor and convinces Ellie to cooperate by threatening she and her uncle with prison. When the break-in is unsuccessful, Ellie decides to continue helping Ramsey sort through a cast of suspects and possible traitors in a race against time, to keep war secrets out of the hands of the Germans. This first book in what promises to be an exciting new series, is chockfull of intrigue, suspense, wit, and romance. An intricately plotted storyline, with crisp dialogue, this is a great read for fans of cozy mysteries, historical fiction, WWII historical fiction and romance. I cannot wait for the next installment!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    London 1940 What a charming mystery and pleasant surprise by a new to me author. Electra McDonnell comes from a family of thieves. After getting caught committing a crime, she has to choose between getting arrested or helping England battle against the Nazis. I'm delighted this is the start of a series and that the author has a back list to explore. Recommended! London 1940 What a charming mystery and pleasant surprise by a new to me author. Electra McDonnell comes from a family of thieves. After getting caught committing a crime, she has to choose between getting arrested or helping England battle against the Nazis. I'm delighted this is the start of a series and that the author has a back list to explore. Recommended!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Electra McDonnell #1 Publication Date: 5/25/21 Number of Pages: 304 I have been reading and enjoying this author’s Amory Ames series, so when I saw this first book in her new series, I grabbed it right up! I am so very glad I did because the mystery is an exciting and suspenseful whodunit with delightfully entertaining characters. The characters we met who will, I assume, be recurrent characters in the series are the McDonnell family including Uncle Mick, Electra (Ellie), and perhaps Uncle Series: Electra McDonnell #1 Publication Date: 5/25/21 Number of Pages: 304 I have been reading and enjoying this author’s Amory Ames series, so when I saw this first book in her new series, I grabbed it right up! I am so very glad I did because the mystery is an exciting and suspenseful whodunit with delightfully entertaining characters. The characters we met who will, I assume, be recurrent characters in the series are the McDonnell family including Uncle Mick, Electra (Ellie), and perhaps Uncle Mick’s son Colm as well as life-long family friend Felix Lacey. That motley crew isn’t exactly following the letter of the law – though they try – sort of. They have their own code of right and wrong. Then, add in strait-laced, law-and-order, rule-following, unyielding, unbending, aristocrat Major Ramsey and you have a delightfully entertaining uneasy alliance when they all do their best to protect England from the Germans. London is dark – very dark – and quiet in the wee hours of the morning in August of 1940. Uncle Mick has been planning a routine safe-cracking job for himself and Ellie. The always cheerful and good-humored Irishman is highly skilled and very thorough in his planning – so why is Ellie apprehensive about this job. As they approach the house – and then enter it – she feels as if she’s being watched. She shakes those feelings off and gets on with the job at hand. She breathes a sigh of relief as they complete the job and leave the residence – only to be apprehended by a big, burly, very unfriendly set of cops. Major Gabriel Ramsey leads a section of military intelligence in London – and he has a case on his hands that could potentially cost England the war against Germany. Top secret plans have been stolen and are being delivered to a German courier. Ramsey must identify the English conspirators, retrieve those plans, substitute an alternate set of plans for the Top-Secret ones, and do it all without alerting the Germans that he is aware of any of it. Hopefully, they’ll be able to use that same conduit to pass future misinformation along to the Germans. What Ramsey needs is someone who is skilled in stealth and locks – and he thinks he’s found the perfect person(s). I thoroughly enjoyed Ellie’s interactions with Ramsey. He certainly didn’t know what to make of her – other than she was a law-breaking thief of the first order. There were so very many suspects and any of them could have easily been the traitor. It takes a lot of investigation – and a number of dead bodies before the case is solved. The traitor will surprise you – and make you very sad. Now, I can hardly wait to see the next book to see if any of those potential traitors we didn’t apprehend in this book turn out to be the villains in the next tale. I definitely recommend this book and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. I’m hanging on by my fingernails to see what happens with Ellie’s cousin Toby and to see what kind of relationship develops between Ramsey and Ellie (I must have a romance to go along with my mystery). Then, there is Felix – he’s sweet on Ellie, but – they’ve always been such close family friends – is that to be the romance? OMGoodness – we’re just going to have to wait and see who our next traitor is and how the romances progress. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Enjoyable read! Thrilling new World War 2 spy/mystery series that frames itself well in the war years. Robbers, spies and an unlikely group populate this series. A female lead Electra (Ellie) McDonnell who’s grown up with her Uncle Mick and stalwart cousins breaking into wealthy homes and selling on the fruits of their illegal labours. From early on Ellie learnt to hold her own against the hulking Irish cousins. When Ellie, through a series of mishaps, finds herself working for the British govern Enjoyable read! Thrilling new World War 2 spy/mystery series that frames itself well in the war years. Robbers, spies and an unlikely group populate this series. A female lead Electra (Ellie) McDonnell who’s grown up with her Uncle Mick and stalwart cousins breaking into wealthy homes and selling on the fruits of their illegal labours. From early on Ellie learnt to hold her own against the hulking Irish cousins. When Ellie, through a series of mishaps, finds herself working for the British government under the direction of the chiselled and determined Major Ramsey looking for a traitor, and planning to confuse the Nazis. The relationship between Ellie and the Major has a temptuous underlying frisson. In Ellie the cool Major may just well have met his match. I love the combination of these two. There’s a further mystery developing—around Ellie’s mother. That’s obviously going to be a thread part of the ongoing series. I find Electra to be my kind of gal. I did enjoy her quick wit and finely honed intelligence. I’m looking forward to more! A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    3.5 stars for this entertaining start to a new series. I don't want to say too much about the set-up and the plot as I think it is best to discover the various twists as the story unfolds. I found the two main characters, Ellie and Major Ramsey, to be works in progress. Neither is fully formed, but the bones are good. Ellie is supposed to be in her early 20s--competent, confident, but she sometimes acts like a petulant 15 year old. Her temper and her unwillingness to follow orders would make her T 3.5 stars for this entertaining start to a new series. I don't want to say too much about the set-up and the plot as I think it is best to discover the various twists as the story unfolds. I found the two main characters, Ellie and Major Ramsey, to be works in progress. Neither is fully formed, but the bones are good. Ellie is supposed to be in her early 20s--competent, confident, but she sometimes acts like a petulant 15 year old. Her temper and her unwillingness to follow orders would make her TSTL if that was all there was to her character. However, she does try to keep both tendencies under control. I am hoping we will see her mature as the series progresses. Major Ramsey is first presented as a stiff-backed, tight-lipped man of mystery. We do get to see him unbend a bit and there are hints that he has hidden facets to his personality. I liked him and appreciated him as an excellent foil to Ellie's impetuousness. The secondary characters are thus far somewhere between 'types' and real people, but I expect that to change as the series progresses. Ellie's Uncle Mick, cousin Colm, and friend Felix, as well as mother-figure Nacy, all have great potential for growth. Those readers familiar with the author's Amory Ames series will find this to be quite different in tone and atmosphere. We are in a different world now and I'm ready for the next adventure.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Loved it! I'm a fan of Ellie & the Major! Great chemistry between superlative characters. Nice mix of cozy mystery & WWII British home front spy story. So glad this is the start of a series. Can't wait for book #2. Loved it! I'm a fan of Ellie & the Major! Great chemistry between superlative characters. Nice mix of cozy mystery & WWII British home front spy story. So glad this is the start of a series. Can't wait for book #2.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    I almost read A Peculiar Combination in one day, but an annoying thing called going to sleep, so I can work tomorrow crept up on me. This was a delight to read, I loved the characters, every single one, but especially Ellie and Major Ramsey. I am so glad this a series because it all ended too soon!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    'Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more. So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty hou 'Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more. So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned—until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police. Ellie doesn’t care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.' ____________________________________ A Peculiar Combination is the first book in Ashley Weaver's new historical mystery series, Electra McDonnell series, set during World War II. I've been a fan of Ashley Weaver's writing from her Amory Ames Mystery series, I enjoy her style of blending danger and intrigue with a bit of romance. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this new series though, but A Peculiar Combination surpassed any expectations I had. The stakes are high and the danger paced well. The plot was really intruiging, I'm a sucker for a good spy mystery and I found Electra to be a more relatable main character than high society Amory and Milo. Electra is a unique heroine, she has an interesting backstory that makes her character different from those of the many other WWII era mysteries out there. She's a safecracker and lock picker, her unique skills make her an asset to Major Ramsey and an important member of his team, even if he's would sometimes like to keep her out of the direct line of danger. I have loved this first book of her new series and I'm excited to see where it will go. Based on this one book so far, I think this series is going to be even better than her oter series. The things that didn't quite work for me in that series seem to be really working so far in this one. I will be continuing with the series and will be keeping an eye out for the next book. If you've liked her other series or if you like spy mysteries, I think you'll enjoy this new series _____ I would like to thank St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books and NetGalley for sharing an eARC of A Peculiar Combination with me. This is my honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jayyn

    🔓🔓🔓 (three stars as rated in locks picked by deft hands and finely honed skills) I was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Electra McDonnell does her best to avoid attention —as a career thief and a lock-pick, her livelihood depends on it. It's not the ideal profession, but with World War II raging around her and most of her family off fighting the Germans, Electra is left with few other options. While following a tip about an 🔓🔓🔓 (three stars as rated in locks picked by deft hands and finely honed skills) I was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Electra McDonnell does her best to avoid attention —as a career thief and a lock-pick, her livelihood depends on it. It's not the ideal profession, but with World War II raging around her and most of her family off fighting the Germans, Electra is left with few other options. While following a tip about an unguarded safe in the heart of London, Electra and her Uncle Mick are caught in the act by the authorities. Electra is given a choice; aid the British war effort on one mission as a lock-pick or rot indefinitely in jail for her crimes. Electra may be a thief, but she's also loyal to crown and country. After all, it's just one mission... "The constant goodbyes were the one part of war I knew I could never get used to." Ashley Weaver is a real favorite of mine. I love her Amory Ames series. This one fell a bit flat for me, however. I was invested in Electra herself, but the story was rather convoluted. Also, there was so very little relationship development. The interactions between romantic partners is what I so loved about her Amory Ames books. I realize that this is a different series but... I guess I was just missing that bit. Hopefully we shall see things progress in book two? All in all, this was a quick and easy cozy mystery and if that's what you're looking for then you'd probably be keen on the twists and turns Weaver maps out in A Peculiar Combination. ✨ Rep in this book: n/a ✨ Content warnings for this book: themes of war and battle, kidnapping, murder, blood, death of a family member Follow me on: Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Tumblr | Pinterest

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I did not know what to expect from this book. I really enjoy Ashley Weaver's Amory Ames series, but a significant portion of my enjoyment of those books depends on the setting. I love the era. The glitz and glamour. The romance between husband and wife. But the actual mysteries? They're background. So, picking up A Peculiar Combination and finding it contained none of the elements that drew me to the Amory Ames series, I was skeptical. But the change of pace works in this book's favor. Electra M I did not know what to expect from this book. I really enjoy Ashley Weaver's Amory Ames series, but a significant portion of my enjoyment of those books depends on the setting. I love the era. The glitz and glamour. The romance between husband and wife. But the actual mysteries? They're background. So, picking up A Peculiar Combination and finding it contained none of the elements that drew me to the Amory Ames series, I was skeptical. But the change of pace works in this book's favor. Electra McDonnell is a strong heroine with none of Amory's effortless poise and style. But she makes up for it with gumption and determination. No comparison really exists. This is more of a spy story (almost a heist book) then a mystery. Electra gets blackmailed into serving her government and putting her safecracking skills to work. As the book goes on, she's rapidly joined by a cast and crew that I hope we will see in other books. In fact, I would say most of the enjoyment I gained from this book came from expected payout in future books. If the Amory Ames story gives us Nick and Nora, Electra McDonnell promises Tommy and Tuppence. And I am here for it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I read some, but not all of the author’s Amory Ames mystery series that started off in 1932. I remembered I enjoyed her Agatha Christie-like style of writing. A Peculiar Combination begins in 1940 with the thief, Electra McDonnell. War has broken out and times are tough. Electra’s extended family has been stealing for a short while. Logic dictates they choose people who can afford it. Since her cousins are now actively serving in the war, it is left up to ‘Ellie’ and Uncle Mick to break into the I read some, but not all of the author’s Amory Ames mystery series that started off in 1932. I remembered I enjoyed her Agatha Christie-like style of writing. A Peculiar Combination begins in 1940 with the thief, Electra McDonnell. War has broken out and times are tough. Electra’s extended family has been stealing for a short while. Logic dictates they choose people who can afford it. Since her cousins are now actively serving in the war, it is left up to ‘Ellie’ and Uncle Mick to break into the homes. What they weren’t counting on was getting caught and by someone from the military. Major Ramsey offered them a deal: work for him or go to prison. Don’t worry, all of this is revealed in the first few chapters. Needless-to-say, there is plenty of friction between Ellie and Ramsey. There is also another man, Ellie’s childhood friend, Felix, who gets involved. You can tell the men only tolerate each other. The suspense was good with a nice little twist that I did not see coming. I assume Ms. Weaver will have Ramsey and Felix vying for Ellie’s affections in future stories. It will be interesting to see what the next mystery reveals. 3.75 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jammin Jenny

    I really enjoyed this historical mystery featuring Electra McDonnel, a woman who knows how to get things done, and how to steal things without getting caught. I loved the historical aspect of the book, and really enjoyed the character development. I look forward to reading more adventures. I received an e-ARC of this book by the author and publishing via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    I'm so excited to see this is a book 1! What a great start to a series! I was completely sucked in to this. Enjoying it as an audio book, the narrator really brought the story to life. I enjoyed the espionage - it's fun to see how some skills that make you a good thief can also make you a great spy! I really enjoyed Ellie - she's a fun main character. She's spunky and fiery and is okay running with the boys but can also enjoy a good pair of stockings. I love that she was so versatile - she could I'm so excited to see this is a book 1! What a great start to a series! I was completely sucked in to this. Enjoying it as an audio book, the narrator really brought the story to life. I enjoyed the espionage - it's fun to see how some skills that make you a good thief can also make you a great spy! I really enjoyed Ellie - she's a fun main character. She's spunky and fiery and is okay running with the boys but can also enjoy a good pair of stockings. I love that she was so versatile - she could be attending a party in one moment and then picking a lock in another. The mystery kept me guessing, the story was easy to follow along. I loved it! A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth Anne

    Super fun! A mystery/espionage quick read set in early WWII London. Solid intro to quirky (but not too quirky) characters, a feisty female lead, and some great twists. I think this will be a fun series to look forward to!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jude: The Epic Reader

    One of my most anticipated 2021 reads! I read Ashley Weavers' Amory Ames series last year and really loved it so I was really excited to see this coming out this year. I love these casual spy books set during the World Wars; they are very interesting and easy to follow. One of my most anticipated 2021 reads! I read Ashley Weavers' Amory Ames series last year and really loved it so I was really excited to see this coming out this year. I love these casual spy books set during the World Wars; they are very interesting and easy to follow.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    A Peculiar Combination is a smart, high-stakes London mystery and adventure at wartime. The fast-paced plot shows a unique side of WWII home front operations with an unlikely duo: a safecracking heroine and a military Major hero working to thwart potential spies. While their pairing just hints at the beginnings of attraction between them, these romantic sparks add another layer to the complicated backstory of Ellie’s character as this book sets up what is sure to be a new favorite WWII fiction s A Peculiar Combination is a smart, high-stakes London mystery and adventure at wartime. The fast-paced plot shows a unique side of WWII home front operations with an unlikely duo: a safecracking heroine and a military Major hero working to thwart potential spies. While their pairing just hints at the beginnings of attraction between them, these romantic sparks add another layer to the complicated backstory of Ellie’s character as this book sets up what is sure to be a new favorite WWII fiction series. I like how competent Ellie is in her intelligence and profession, particularly in a detail-oriented way. Her banter with Major Ramsey is entertaining and smart, contrasting with his by-the-book tendencies and his own fierce loyalty. Through Ellie’s eyes, Ashley Weaver explores themes of human nature through motives, history, and emotion-driven decisions. There are many aspects to love about this mystery of a story, including its portrayals of family and friendship (LOVED Felix!), the art to safecracking, and the ways of life at risk during this era. I am looking forward to the next book in this series — and especially hoping for the hints of vulnerability the Major displayed to lead to a deeper relationship with Ellie! Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    It's August 1940, Britain is at war with Germany, the Blitz hasn't begun yet, and so, Ellie McDonnell, 24, and her Uncle Mick thought it would be safe to break into the deserted home of some wealthy Londoners and rob their safe. Sure, they had done this plenty of times before. Uncle Mick is a locksmith by day, and cracking open people's safes at night was more like a hobby than theft, and niece Ellie is a natural. Only this time, they get caught and it isn't by the London police. Instead, they w It's August 1940, Britain is at war with Germany, the Blitz hasn't begun yet, and so, Ellie McDonnell, 24, and her Uncle Mick thought it would be safe to break into the deserted home of some wealthy Londoners and rob their safe. Sure, they had done this plenty of times before. Uncle Mick is a locksmith by day, and cracking open people's safes at night was more like a hobby than theft, and niece Ellie is a natural. Only this time, they get caught and it isn't by the London police. Instead, they were take to a large townhouse in Belgravia, now occupied by the military under the command of the quite arrogant Major Gabriel Ramsey. After some interrogation about how they crack safes, Ellie and Uncle Mick are given a proposition - prison or help the Major break into a safe containing some stolen classified blueprints having to do with national security and retrieve them before they are given over to the enemy. It sounds like a simple enough job, so Ellie and Uncle Mick accept the proposition - after all, they are patriots who want to do their bit for the war effort. In fact, Ellie's cousins Toby and Colm are already serving their country. So the deal is, Ellie and Major Ramsey will break into a house and get the documents, while Uncle Mick is help as collateral. Everything goes well except the papers are gone and the person in whose safe they were has been murdered. Having carried out their part of the deal made with Major Ramsey, Ellie and Uncle are released with a promise to live on the straight and narrow for the duration. But then Ellie gets called back to Major Ramsey's office who needs her safecracking skills once again. Ramsey is convinced that the documents will be handed over at a party and lecture on Chinese porcelain to a potential conspirator with German ties. There are any number of possible suspects, but thanks to Ellie's pickpocketing skills, they are able to glean enough information on what appears to be a solid lead. Meanwhile, a prickly relationship is growing between Major Ramsey and Ellie. And the fact that an old ex-girlfriend of his may be mixed up in the conspiracy to pass documents to the Germans doesn't help matters. Ramsey is uptight, formal, and slow to trust Ellie, whereas Ellie takes her tasks seriously, but can be feisty and a real buster when she wants to be, though her teasing adds some much needed humor to their relationship and their mission. Don't get me wrong - there are also enough serious and even dangerous moments. On the whole, I really enjoyed this first novel in what looks to become a series. It may seem wrong for the main character to be a criminal, after all, they are usually the pursued not the pursuer. But right from the start, Ellie and Uncle Mick are forced to mend their ways (permanently? I doubt it). And although more than one person is killed, the novel inn't graphic, putting into the cozy class. A Peculiar Combination lives up to it ironic title and more, and will have readers wanting even more by the time they reach novel's end. This book is recommended for mystery fans age 14+ This book was an eARC gratefully received from NetGalley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    This was a fun start to a new historical mystery series from Ashley Weaver. Set during the Second World War, Electra McDonnell is a young woman who’s part of a colorful and not altogether law abiding family. Her uncle is a safecracker and she’s learned the trade from him. When they’re both caught in the act, Ellie and her uncle are drafted into service for the military. They need to open a safe and swap some papers so that misinformation can be passed onto the Nazis. Unfortunately that mission g This was a fun start to a new historical mystery series from Ashley Weaver. Set during the Second World War, Electra McDonnell is a young woman who’s part of a colorful and not altogether law abiding family. Her uncle is a safecracker and she’s learned the trade from him. When they’re both caught in the act, Ellie and her uncle are drafted into service for the military. They need to open a safe and swap some papers so that misinformation can be passed onto the Nazis. Unfortunately that mission goes awry and Ellie finds herself further embroiled with Major Ramsey and his mission. This was a great series starter, featuring an intrepid heroine. I’ve been a fan of Weaver's Amory Ames series, and I’m so impressed that this new series is so different, yet continues to offer a well crafted mystery. Ellie is a great character and I can’t wait to learn more about her and her backstory - so much to dig into! Not to mention the romantic tension between her and Major Ramsey (I don’t think the childhood friend stands a chance!). *review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  25. 5 out of 5

    C. S.

    As with Weaver’s other mystery series, I enjoyed the protagonist and the plot. I actually think I like Ellie better, and I really enjoyed her extended family. The historical setting was also evocatively drawn and played well into the mystery. Unfortunately, also as with the first series, the male romantic leads are grating and dull, dull, dull (I was going to say ‘in equal measure’ but since I didn’t feel compelled to write ‘grating’ out three times, I guess not). There’s a sort of halfhearted t As with Weaver’s other mystery series, I enjoyed the protagonist and the plot. I actually think I like Ellie better, and I really enjoyed her extended family. The historical setting was also evocatively drawn and played well into the mystery. Unfortunately, also as with the first series, the male romantic leads are grating and dull, dull, dull (I was going to say ‘in equal measure’ but since I didn’t feel compelled to write ‘grating’ out three times, I guess not). There’s a sort of halfhearted triangle set up in this one, and the underdog is slightly more interesting to me but I’m pretty sure I can tell which one Weaver favors and it’s not him. Anyway, this was a fun audiobook and the narrator gave a lively performance that was easy to listen to, but it’s not going to stick with me and I might or might not pick up the next one when it comes out. If you like cozyish historical mysteries with romance elements give it a shot!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Clever, mysterious, and witty! A Peculiar Combination is an immersive, suspenseful tale set in London during WWII that takes you into the life of Electra McDonnell, a part-time, talented safecracker who is recruited by the broodily handsome Major Ramsey to use her exceptional skills to help king and country retrieve some documents of a fragile nature before they can possibly be passed into enemy hands. The prose is rich and polished. The characters are plucky, resourceful, and intriguing. And the Clever, mysterious, and witty! A Peculiar Combination is an immersive, suspenseful tale set in London during WWII that takes you into the life of Electra McDonnell, a part-time, talented safecracker who is recruited by the broodily handsome Major Ramsey to use her exceptional skills to help king and country retrieve some documents of a fragile nature before they can possibly be passed into enemy hands. The prose is rich and polished. The characters are plucky, resourceful, and intriguing. And the plot is a well-paced, intriguing mystery full of suspects, deduction, red herrings, familial dynamics, espionage, duty, friendship, flirtation, secrets, and duplicity. Overall, A Peculiar Combination is a vivid, atmospheric, highly entertaining tale by Weaver that is not only a fantastic start to the Electra McDonnell series but, in my opinion, the perfect choice for anyone who loves a lighthearted, amusing, historical mystery. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press – Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    A family of expert safe crackers are set up, caught, and offered a deal to work for the British Secret Service. How could I pass up such an intriguing set up to a new series? I have been meaning to try this author’s older series for ages and got side track when this dazzling series starter came to my notice. A Peculiar Combination introduces Ellie McDonnell and her unique situation. She is an expert thief and comes from a family who subsidize their dwindling locksmith work during the war with a f A family of expert safe crackers are set up, caught, and offered a deal to work for the British Secret Service. How could I pass up such an intriguing set up to a new series? I have been meaning to try this author’s older series for ages and got side track when this dazzling series starter came to my notice. A Peculiar Combination introduces Ellie McDonnell and her unique situation. She is an expert thief and comes from a family who subsidize their dwindling locksmith work during the war with a few side jobs relieving home safe’s of their contents. Ellie was welcomed heartily into her Uncle Mick’s family when she was orphaned and it is to her uncle and family that she is loyal though this is the first opportunity she is given to assist her Uncle in housebreaking and safe cracking. She misses her cousins who are off fighting the war and is restless because she wants to do her part. Who knew that her first ‘job’ would lead her just where she wants to be? That is if she didn’t have to work with the handsome, perfect, taciturn man from the secret service who is none to impressed with a family of thieves even if he does need their expertise for his assignment. At first, I wasn’t sure if Ellie and I were going to take to each other. It was obvious that she’d not really attempted to see the stealing for what it was because it was just the way of her family and her uncle and cousins made it seem like a lark. Being forced to reassess because the man who catches her that she is unwillingly attracted to looks on with disdain, gets her back up. But, she won me over because she was set aside her feelings about Major Ramsay to serve the greater good even after her deal with him was over. Ramsay was in a jam with the important papers gone, a murdered traitor, and another one on the loose ready to hand over the goods to the Nazis and I was glad that Ellie and Uncle Mick dove in and did their part. Major Ramsay has his own skills and tough persona, but he tends to set people on edge so the McDonnell charm helped them work through their list of suspects in social settings. The story started slow with the introductions, but picked up speed nicely and by the end the suspense was taunt. This is more espionage story than murder mystery, but stayed closer to cozy than thriller. There are some serious romantic sparks, but the romance wasn’t a focal point in this first book. Coming together as a team and working the mission took precedence. The historical backdrop was there just enough to make sure the reader understood it was WWII Era London, but didn’t go deeply into the historical side. Ellie’s past is introduced vaguely leaving the reader curious especially after the major mentioned she was born in prison. All in all, I was left satisfied with this intro to the series and the author’s writing. I like the characters, especially mischievous Uncle Mick, and I most definitely want more of them and their war-time shadow work. Ellie and the major really click though they are hostile and witty much of the time toward each other. I think WWII mystery lovers and those who enjoy light historical thrillers should definitely give this new series a go. I rec’d an eARC of this book through Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    It's 1940 in wartime England. Ellie & her Uncle Mick are part-time thieves. They get caught one night breaking into a safe. But instead of going to jail, they're consigned into helping the British secret service (ie. spies). Unfortunately, on their first assignment, a dead body is found instead of the contents of the target. So of course, off they go to investigate as well as try to complete their mission. I wouldn't consider this classified as a historical mystery but more of a spy/thriller with It's 1940 in wartime England. Ellie & her Uncle Mick are part-time thieves. They get caught one night breaking into a safe. But instead of going to jail, they're consigned into helping the British secret service (ie. spies). Unfortunately, on their first assignment, a dead body is found instead of the contents of the target. So of course, off they go to investigate as well as try to complete their mission. I wouldn't consider this classified as a historical mystery but more of a spy/thriller with a mystery subplot. It wasn't as pressing as that of the spy conspiracy. It also has a twist in that the protagonist & her family are technically criminals. I liked that twist on the usual characters. There was some action as well. The characters were likable. Even though it's against the law, you root for Ellie. Major Ramsey is a formal/stuffed shirt/serious character. As this is labelled the first book in a series, I'm curious if he'll lighten up a bit as his character develops. there was good chemistry between the characters. I really liked Uncle Mick. While he's a cliche, he's charming none the less. My main criticism is that the story moved slowly but the last few chapters were suspense filled. There were also a few surprises. And I really liked the cover design which intrigued me enough to request the book. Overall, this was a good story that included elements of mystery, light romance, some humor & spies set against the background of a WWII London historical. It kept me interested because of the characters. And while it was slightly underwhelming, it was a good enough start to a series that I'd read the next book. Thank you to NetGalley & Minotaur books for the ARC in exchange for my review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    I have really enjoyed Ashley Weaver’s Amory Ames books so when I saw she was coming out with a new lady detective series and with a heroine by the name of Electra (Ellie for short), I knew this was going to be a great, great read! Clearing my schedule, I added this one to my early summer reading list and I am so glad that I did! The Amory Ames series has been fun and I have liked the books I have read, but this book felt so much more complete for some reason (I will get to my thoughts on that in I have really enjoyed Ashley Weaver’s Amory Ames books so when I saw she was coming out with a new lady detective series and with a heroine by the name of Electra (Ellie for short), I knew this was going to be a great, great read! Clearing my schedule, I added this one to my early summer reading list and I am so glad that I did! The Amory Ames series has been fun and I have liked the books I have read, but this book felt so much more complete for some reason (I will get to my thoughts on that in a minute!). Historical mysteries are my favorites, especially when it includes a little romance between the murder and investigating. But as many historical fiction/mystery readers know, WWII and the Victorian era are saturated with books. So the question becomes how does an author distinguish their new lady detective series? It’s a tough question, for me the thing that caught my eye about this one was the name of the heroine. I loved her flashy and memorable name, it conjured images of a brazen, bold heroine that I just couldn’t get out of my head. That was what made me pick this one up in the sea of WWII historical mysteries! As mentioned earlier, Ellie as a heroine felt a little more polished and finished in this one than Amory Ames. Weaver is a strong writer and her lady characters are well written and interesting, but for me, Ellie seemed like she had a little something extra that Amory didn’t. Ellie had wit, sass, and strength but she just had something that made her sparkle and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but as I was reading her I felt like she was someone I would love to be friends with and perhaps I saw a little of myself in her character and I couldn’t help but all in love with her in a way that I didn’t with Amory Ames. Once you add in Weaver’s stunning historical research for this book, you will know right away that you are reading something special. I also couldn’t get enough of the oddball pairing that was Ellie and Major Ramsey. If Ellie is the sassy thief, Major Ramsey is the strait laced voice of reason but when you get them together, the chemistry and sparks are undeniable. I loved the hint of romance in this one, but as always, I want more romance and I am eager to see how things develop with Major Ramsey and Felix (yes there is a little love triangle in this one) develop in future books. While there was a romantic element in this one, it is not the focus. Weaver has written a new, well-balanced mystery/espionage series that has just the right amount of romance. The mystery itself is really well done and even if the beginning started out a little slow, but just a few chapters I was hooked and by the end, suspense was at an all time high! I loved how well done this one was. The mystery was smart, thought out, and nuanced. I think this went hand in hand with her historical research. Combining the historical research and a smart mystery with excellent characters and character development really made this one stand out. In the end it earned five stars from me. I loved it and can’t wait for the next book! See my full review here

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda McCutcheon

    If you are in the mood for a thrilling mystery, catching some WWII bad guys, and a fun romantic triangle then A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the perfect audiobook and novel for you to enjoy. In London 1940 we meet the delightful Electra McDonnell known as Ellie to her family and friends. Ellie lives with her Uncle Mick and male cousins and they are all taken care of by their motherly housekeeper Nacy. Sounds like a lovely family and they are except for their occupation; they are profe If you are in the mood for a thrilling mystery, catching some WWII bad guys, and a fun romantic triangle then A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the perfect audiobook and novel for you to enjoy. In London 1940 we meet the delightful Electra McDonnell known as Ellie to her family and friends. Ellie lives with her Uncle Mick and male cousins and they are all taken care of by their motherly housekeeper Nacy. Sounds like a lovely family and they are except for their occupation; they are professional thieves and are exceptional in their chosen field. Through a series of events Ellie has to work with the staunch Major Ramsey to crack open a safe in a known German spy's house to get the blueprints that cannot fall into enemy hands. Of course things do not go as planned and more spying and planning is necessary. As Ellie and the Major spend time together their dislike for each other lessens and maybe something else happens between them. But there is family friend Felix, an excellent forger, who has always been sweet on Ellie and Ellie has always cared about him. Romance during a spy mission; what could possibly go wrong?! One of the major joys listening to this audiobook was the talents of narrator Alison Larkin. She enhanced the beguiling Ellie, gave heart to the major, and intensified the suspense throughout the story. This novel is the start of the Electra McDonnell series and though there is a satisfactory ending in the book I know there are more adventures awaiting our heroine. I hope our author is a fast writer. Seriously, the Major or Felix, who truly has Ellie's heart? I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publishers via NetGalley for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

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