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A Peculiar Combination: Electra McDonnell #1    by Ashley Weaver order for
Peculiar Combination
by Ashley Weaver
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Peculiar Combination opens a new series by Ashley Weaver, author of the cozy Amory Ames historical mystery series. This new one opens in 1940 London and features Electra McDonnell (born in Holloway prison and convinced of her mother's innocence of her father's murder). Her locksmith Uncle Mick moonlights as a burglar and safecracker.

Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby, who normally assist him, are doing their part in the war (Colm an RAF mechanic and Toby missing in action since Dunkirk), so Ellie steps up for a somewhat risky burglary. Unfortunately, it's a trap and the trap is sprung. They are taken to a townhouse where a handsome Major Ramsey gives them a choice - either Ellie will help recover blueprints (critical to the war effort) from a safe (while Mick remains under guard) or they will both end up in jail.

A series of cloak-and-dagger escapades follow, involving Ellie and the Major (for whom she feels both strong dislike and unwilling attraction). A childhood friend also reappears in Ellie's life - debonair rogue Felix Lacey, who now has an artificial leg. When the Major's clandestine op goes awry (they find a dead body, not the blueprints), more help is needed. Felix and Colm join the team, and together they foil a German agent.

As this episode ends, Major Ramsey informs Ellie that she and Mick are 'still on the payroll', so we can look forward to more of these appealing characters.

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