Fiery Ellie and sly Uncle Mick are accomplished safecrackers. In 1940 wartime London, darkened streets with many empty homes make it easy to slip in to any of them and remove a few valuables—until the duo gets caught in the act. Confusingly, law enforcement escorts them to an elegant home in the elite Belgravia neighborhood where they are brought before Major Ramsey, a ramrod-straight military intelligence officer. He needs their skills. They have little choice, other than prison. Ellie, born Electra McDonnell, is intensely loyal to her uncle, who feels she is now ready to take the lead. She clashes with Major Ramsey, a brusque man of few words and little patience, though he is extraordinarily attractive. Her tempestuous nature collides with his staid personality when they pose as a society couple in their urgent quest to identify a German sympathizer in possession of dangerous papers. Fortunately, both have a ardent love of country. VERDICT Louisiana librarian Weaver (Murder at Brightwell) launches an engaging new series that sparkles. Infused with witty romantic conflict, this historical mystery with convincing period details concludes with enticing story threads for future entries. For fans of Susan Elia MacNeal and Allison Montclair.—Gloria Drake, Oswego P.L. Dist., IL
A clever young woman’s criminal lifestyle improbably puts her on the road to redemption in this exciting World War II series debut from Weaver.
Electra McDonnell was born in the prison where her mother died before she could be hanged for a murder Ellie’s convinced she didn’t commit. Raised by her Uncle Mick, she became part of the burglary squad her family ran as a sideline from their legitimate locksmithing business. Then, one night, while they're opening a safe in a house that's supposed to be deserted—they'd been told there would be jewelry there—Ellie and Mick discover that they've been set up. They're given the choice of working for the British government or going to jail. Mick and Ellie may be thieves, but they’re also patriots, and with Britain locked in war with Germany, Ellie’s happy to try cracking a safe that contains classified documents that have been stolen. Imperious Maj. Ramsey, who’s running the operation, introduces Ellie to a whole new world. Ellie and Ramsey enter a house whose safe is supposed to contain the documents only to find the safe open and a man lying dead on the floor. Still on the trail and enjoying a bit more of Ramsey’s trust, Ellie’s outfitted to pose as Ramsey’s date while they attend a party at the mansion of suspected German sympathizer Sir Nigel Randolf. During a lecture, they sneak off to Randolf’s study, where Ellie easily opens another safe but finds nothing of interest. Sparks fly when Ellie and Ramsey recognize their attraction to each other as Ellie continues to help Ramsey in a desperate search for those documents.
Brave Ellie and her aristocratic love should appeal to fans of Susan Elia MacNeal and Tessa Arlen.
A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week!
One of BuzzFeed's "21 Upcoming Historical Fiction Books You're Going to Love"
"A thorny relationship between Ellie and Ramsey, a cast of colorful characters, a brisk pace, and an ironic message about the identity of true patriots enthrall. Readers will look forward to the next mission for the smart, feisty Ellie and her circle."—Publishers Weekly (Starred)
"Exciting . . . Brave Ellie and her aristocratic love should appeal to fans of Susan Elisa MacNeal and Tessa Arlen."—Kirkus Reviews
"Louisiana librarian Weaver (Murder at Brightwell) launches an engaging new series that sparkles. Infused with witty romantic conflict, this historical mystery with convincing period details concludes with enticing story threads for future entries. For fans of Susan Elia MacNeal and Allison Montclair"—Library Journal
"This is a well-constructed historical spy story with plenty of romance, intriguing period details, and fascinating insights into the nitty gritties of safecracking."—Booklist
" It’s a lighter read than many a mystery with the same setting, but A Peculiar Combination delivers the requisite suspense and misdirection that will keep the hard-boiled crowd on board as well"—BookPage
"A Peculiar Combination has the sparky feel of a 60s caper film . . . This book might make a nice aperitif for fans of Jacqueline Winspear's venerable Maisie Dobbs series. [This] promises to be a charming series."—Air Mail "Murder, They Wrote"
"A Peculiar Combination has real snap to it. I loved the characters, especially Ellie, and I loved the twists that Weaver provides. It is a very welcome addition to the historical mystery field."—Mystery Scene Magazine
"An exciting yarn filled with narrow escapes, revised strategies and a snapshot of London in August 1940, a month before the Blitz began."—Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
"Filled with vivid historical details, late nights under a London blackout and characters from all classes who aren't quite what they seem, A Peculiar Combination is a sparkling addition to Weaver's oeuvre and a highly enjoyable start to a new series. A whip-smart safecracking heroine and satisfyingly tricky plot."—Shelf Awareness
"This is an engaging and addictive historical thriller with a touch of romance... Fans of historical thrillers and strong female characters are going to love this World War II spy adventure. Highly recommended."—Historical Novel Society
"Red herrings abound, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep readers guessing. Throw in a dash of romance, and the result is a fun, fast read. I can easily envision this series becoming addictive for some."—BookBrowse
"An exciting first book in what promises to be a thrilling new series! Weaver has given us another delightful pair of sleuths who couldn’t be more different, except for their desire to save their country. While Major Ramsey follows the rules, Ellie breaks them, all against a background of London during the Blitz. What could be more delightful? I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down!"—Victoria Thompson, USA Today bestselling author of Murder on Wall Street
"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."—Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries
"Deftly plotted with twists and turns that ultimately unlock a thrilling conclusion, Weaver’s gripping mystery is set against the World War II Blitz in London, making it all the more compelling. A Peculiar Combination introduces a sparkling new series featuring a feisty heroine and her dashing counterpart, with just the right amount of wit and romantic nuance to round out the story’s high stakes drama."—Jess Montgomery, author of The Stills
"Ashley Weaver brings her gift for crafting absorbing historical atmosphere and compelling characters to 1940’s London in this riveting new series. Ellie McDonnell, a scrappy Irish safecracker used to being on the wrong side of the law, turns her talents to helping the government defeat a ring of Nazi spies. True to form, Weaver’s characters are complex and utterly believable, and the plot twists drop like bombs during the Blitz—fast and unexpected. The next installment can’t come soon enough."—Erica Ruth Neubauer, author of Murder at the Mena House
"Featuring a bold and clever heroine, A Peculiar Combination is a rollicking adventure full of danger, intrigue, and a heady dose of romance. Fun!"—Nancy Herriman, author of the Bess Ellyott Mysteries
"Set against the tense, atmospheric backdrop of World War II London, Ashley Weaver introduces my new favorite hero, Ellie McDonnell. Despite the doubts and fears that make her all too human, Ellie is lovely, clever, and courageous. From page one, Ashley Weaver sends Ellie, and us, on a fast-paced, wild ride that I didn’t want to end! I can’t wait to see what Ellie gets up to next."—Clara McKenna, author of the Stella and Lyndy mysteries
"In London during the Blitz, an unlikely group of people are brought together to thwart the plans of a dangerous double-agent. Ellie is a safecracker who turns out to have good reasons for what she does. But she’s not the only one who must come to terms with tragedies of the past, even while facing down possible disasters of the future. This is a wonderful start to an intriguing new series. I was absorbed from the first page."—Jennifer Delamere, author of Line By Line
“The Electra McDonnell series is fun, smart, and intriguing. Fans of the Maggie Hope series will love the setting and Ellie’s unique contributions to the Cause. I can’t wait for the next book!”—Colleen Gleason, New York Times bestselling author of the Lincoln’s White House Mystery series
"I love Ashley Weaver's Amory Ames Mystery series, and now I'm thrilled she's taken her considerable talents to a whole new arena with this spy thriller. A reluctant and unlikely heroine, Electra "Ellie" McDonnell proves that valor and love of one’s country will set even the most dubious life back on a straight and determined path. I loved watching the transformation from cynical thief to courageous and sophisticated government agent. Filled with wry humor, tight suspense, a delightful cast of characters, and a bit of budding romance, this is a fabulous introduction to this new series!"—Alyssa Maxwell, author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady & Lady's Maid Mysteries
“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 MacNeil.”—Rachel McMillan, author of The London Restoration and The Mozart Code