Review: Relative Fortunes (Julia Kydd #1) by Marlowe Benn

I decided to read this book based purely on the cover art. The cover art suggests a fun historical mystery with a quirky and fashionable lady detective. Plus it was the first in a new series and I couldn’t help but get excited to be one of the first people to read Julia Kydd!

The 1920s aren’t really my favorite era to read, but I love the art and fashion and have read a few historical mysteries that have been set in that period and loved them so I am typically open to reading more from that time period.

I was excited to see that this was the authors first debut novel and she has already signed on to do 2 more books in this series, which speaks volumes for me! It must be good if the publisher already wants more, so I was excited to dive in and check out a new lady detective!


In 1920s New York, the price of a woman’s independence can be exorbitant—even fatal.

In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.

When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.

Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance (summary from Goodreads)


This book started out a little on the slow side for me which was surprising. I wasn’t expecting it to be so slow but it didn’t really pick up for me until about a third of the way through. There was a lot of detail about the history of book publishing which at first was interesting but quickly became a little much for me.

Julia was a great character. I loved that she was independent minded, confident, and modern. I liked her immensely and was drawn to her character most of the book. I love how she interacted with her family and friends and it made the whole cast of characters memorable and engaging.

For me there was a lot going on in this book though. A lot of different issues were being touched on—women’s rights, financial security, family issues, and a murder mystery. It was a little on the busy side but not wholly unenjoyable, I just noted that there was a lot going on and at times I would get distracted from the overall plot.

I think this book shows a promising start to a new series especially for a new author. It was entertaining enough and I am eager to see how Julia grows and changes throughout the upcoming books.

Book Info and Rating

Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published August 1st 2019 by Lake Union Publishing (first published July 1st 2019)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Lake Union Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: historical mystery, cozy mystery, detective novel, mystery


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