The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne is a historical mystery taking place in 1703 when colonization and exploration had sparked a mania for collecting from around the world. Sir Barnaby Mayne was the collector’s collector. Few could indulge his furious collecting of everything. His home became a magnet for scientists seeking to do research, including Cecily Kay who brought a collection of plants back to England from Smyrna and hoped to use Mayne’s collection to identify them.

Unfortunately, on the day she arrived, the tour of the collection was interrupted by her host’s murder. Inexplicably, his meek assistant confessed to the murder before fleeing. Cecily thought it unlikely and is searching for a motive or an alternative explanation.

I liked The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne well enough to be eager to read another featuring Cecily May. The plot is fair and sufficiently complex to suggest more than one murderer. I was interested in the outcome and liked Cecily a lot. It was a bit slow-moving at times, perhaps due to the difficulties of being a woman investigating anything in 1703. Historical novels that seek to be even close to reality can become as stultifying as the lives of upper-class women were. Navigating social norms can be tiresome. Despite that, I am intrigued enough to look forward to the next in what I am certain will be an enjoyable series.

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne will be released on August 4th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan

Elsa Hart author site