The Lady from Burma (Sparks & Bainbridge: Book 5) by Allison Montclair

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: July 25th, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical, British Literature

Series: Sparks & Bainbridge

The Right Sort of Man—Book 1

A Royal Affair—Book 2

The Haunting of the Desks: A Sparks and Bainbridge Short Story—Book 2.5

A Rogue’s Company—Book 3

The Unkept Woman—Book 4

The Lady from Burma—Book 5

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Allison Montclair’s The Lady from Burma, murder once again stalks the proprietors of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in the surprisingly dangerous landscape of post-World War II London…

In the immediate post-war days of London, two unlikely partners have undertaken an even more unlikely, if necessary, business venture – The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. The two partners are Miss Iris Sparks, a woman with a dangerous – and never discussed – past in British intelligence and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, a war widow with a young son entangled in a complicated aristocratic family. Mostly their clients are people trying to start (or restart) their lives in this much-changed world, but their new client is something different. A happily married woman has come to them to find a new wife for her husband. Dying of cancer, she wants the two to make sure her entomologist, academic husband finds someone new once she passes.

Shortly thereafter, she’s found dead in Epping Forest, in what appears to be a suicide. But that doesn’t make sense to either Sparks or Bainbridge. At the same time, Bainbridge is attempting to regain legal control of her life, opposed by the conservator who has been managing her assets – perhaps not always in her best interest. When that conservator is found dead, Bainbridge herself is one of the prime suspects. Attempting to make sense of two deaths at once, to protect themselves and their clients, the redoubtable owners of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau are once again on the case.

First Line:

He sat on the edge of the narrow bed, reaching for the black wool socks he had stuffed into his shoes.

The Lady from Burma by Allison Montclair

Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are two years into running The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. So, when a woman dying from lung cancer hires them to find a wife for her husband, they can’t say no. Shortly after, that woman is found dead of an apparent suicide in Epping Forest. While Miss Sparks is helping the local police with that case, Mrs. Bainbridge is trying to regain legal control of her life. When the conservator managing her assets is found dead, Mrs. Bainbridge is the main suspect. With the police breathing down her neck, Mrs. Bainbridge must solve his murder. Can she? And how are the two cases connected?

I was super excited when I got the widget for The Lady from Burma. I read the first book in this series way back in 2019. Because of Covid and my year-old hiatus, I couldn’t read books 2, 3, and 4. So when that email popped up in my inbox, I jumped on it.

The Lady from Burma is book 5 in the Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series. You can read this as a stand-alone book. But, I always suggest reading the previous books to get backgrounds on the characters (major and minor).

The Lady from Burma is a medium to fast-paced book. It stayed at a steady medium pace until almost the end of the book. Then it picked up at the end of the book. There was no lag, either, which was nice.

There were two storylines in The Lady from Burma. They are:

  1. Bainbridge’s struggle to regain legal control over her life.
  2. Sparks and Bainbridge’s investigation into their client’s apparent suicide

Each storyline was well written. I enjoyed that the author portrayed how marriage and mental health were viewed. When the author brought the two storylines together, she did it almost seamlessly.

Bainbridge’s frustration, anger, and terror (yes, terror) over her conservatorship were palpable. All she wanted was her life back, and to do that, she needed to go to Lunacy Court and hope a judge agreed. I felt for her. It was horrible how women and mental health issues were treated back then. It both horrified and saddened me.

Spark’s investigation into their client’s murder was fascinating. I felt that the constable was very forward-thinking for the time. Spark’s observations helped. She was also such a good friend to Bainbridge. She spent the night to make sure Bainbridge didn’t do anything to threaten her case (like try suicide). She also was vital in making a significant connection between Bainbridge and the dead woman.

The romance angle of The Lady from Burma was interesting. I liked that Sparks seemed to be settling down. I vaguely remember Archie from the first book and feel he would fit her well. As for Bainbridge, I don’t know who I want her to end up with. I was hoping for Sally, but there were two other men introduced that made me go, “Hmmm.

The mystery angle of the book was interesting. I liked how the mysteries were investigated separately until they were brought together. I also was shocked at how Bainbridge was connected to the dead woman. There was a slight twist at the end, which I didn’t see coming.

The end of The Lady from Burma was interesting. I liked how the author wrapped up all of the storylines. I was very excited for Bainbridge. That scene in court, with the new lawyer, was perfect.

The wrap-up of the murder was directly tied to what was going on with Bainbridge. What was revealed was surprising, and I didn’t see it coming. The author left enough open for me to look forward to book 6.

I would recommend The Lady from Burma to anyone over 16. There are nongraphic sexual situations, mild language, and mild violence.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Allison Montclair for allowing me to read and review The Lady from Burma. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of The Lady from Burma, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Allison Montclair:

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