Review: “The Key to Deceit” by Ashley Weaver

I’m sharing an early review today of a historical mystery that releases June 21st: The Key to Deceit by Ashley Weaver. If you enjoy WWII era espionage and adventurous, strong heroines, I recommend starting with book 1, A Peculiar Combination, and meeting Ms. McDonnell and her unlikely cause.

About the Book

The second in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, The Key to Deceit, is a delightful World War II mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and wit.

cover of The Key to Deceit, blue tones. Heroine holding a key with the London tower bridge in the foreground.

London, 1940. After years of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor—well, to themselves, anyway—Ellie McDonnell and her family have turned over a new leaf as they help the government’s war effort. It’s true that the straight-laced Major Ramsey didn’t give them much choice, but still, Ellie must admit she doesn’t miss breaking and entering as much as she might have thought. What she does miss is the challenge of unlocking an impossible code and the adrenaline rush that comes from being somewhere she shouldn’t.

So when Major Ramsey turns up unannounced with another job, she can’t say no. A woman’s body has been found floating in the Thames, with a bracelet locked onto her wrist, and a cameo locket attached to it. It’s clear this woman was involved in espionage, but whose side was she on? Who was she reporting to? And who wanted her dead?

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Review

The Key to Deceit is a female-centric WWII heist adventure told through the eyes of the heroine, Electra McDonnel (Ellie). It is a proper balance of wit and an honest portrayal of the seriousness of war on the home front. As Londoners begin to deal with the reality of war and the imminent threat of German air raids, Ellie works to be part of a ragtag group of criminals-turned-patriots to help the allied cause with her locksmith skills and femininity.

The banter and depth of the characters are favorite parts of the story. A bit of a romance develops between Ellie and her childhood friend, Felix, though the spark and tension between Ellie and the Major are ever present, too. I ship Ellie and Major Ramsey SO MUCH, though Felix is a decent and steady friend, if a little mysterious at times.

While book 1 was slightly more a spy story, this one is a little more heist and mystery focused as a suspicious death points to espionage activities. Ellie’s ongoing family-related mystery is further developed, with the past and the fate of her mother active parts of the story, too, as she works to uncover family secrets. This leaves the reader with a few questions, of course, and eager for a continuation of her story!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review: