Review: Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Title: Banquet of Lies
Author: Michelle Diener
Genre: historical fiction, thriller, mystery
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Published: October 22 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5/5

LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.

Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.

Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible.
Michelle Diener continues to expand her already impressive bibliography with her newest, Banquet of Lies -- a 19th century historical mystery/thriller. Beginning in Stockholm in early 1812, the novel follows main character and third person narrator Giselle "Gigi" Barrington for about a week as she tries to solve the mystery behind her father's brutal murder. The story itself can veer a big silly and goofy at times, if unintentionally, but it's all in good fun.

Banquet of Lies entire plotline ties around Giselle, after witnessing the murder of her father by an English traitor, goes incognito impersonating a French chef in a viscount's household -- someone far beneath her station and also a person of great suspicion during the current war between Britain and France. It's a tidy little set up for a story and it allows for some international shenanigans as well as upstairs/downstairs tension on the home front. The story moves along at a nice clip so it never feels like Gigi is dragging her heels to piece things together. 

The viscount that Giselle uses for cover is a young, unmarried, former army man - Jonathan, Lord Aldridge. I wanted to like Jonathan, and occasionally I did, but he's far less developed than his counterpart. He has less to do in Banquet of Lies-- mainly be duped and then be angry about it and then not angry -- so it allows Giselle to take the center and lead all the action and plot momentum. As a romance, I can't say I root for or against it -- the book is much more concerned with the revenge plot than setting up a real romance so it's all rather unimportant to both Giselle and the story.

As far as Diener's books go, this may be my favorite so far. Despite the odd stumble, Banquet of Lies is a fluffy, fun piece of historical mystery. Gigi is perhaps the best character the author has created and her story here is pure adventure.

1 comment:

  1. "fluffy, fun piece of historical mystery" - I like the description. While I wasn't impressed with the beginning, I'm wondering if maybe I was taking it too seriously. Will give this another try but only because you said so. :)


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