Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: Wouldn't It Be Deadly by D. E. Ireland (Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters in a fun, twisty story
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Familiar duo
Become detectives in this
Delightful debut

Loverly Debut

I only had one reservation when I learned who the detectives were in Wouldn't It Be Deadly.  See, I love My Fair Lady up until the end when Eliza Doolittle returns to Henry Higgins despite how he’s treated her for the entire length of the play.  However, when I learned that the duo writing as D. E. Ireland would be sticking closer to the original ending for these characters in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, I was fully on board.  And the debut delivered everything promised.

The book opens in 1913, two months after the events we already know.  We find Eliza working for Emil Nepommuck, Henry Higgins’s chief rival, teaching proper English to anyone who needs to blend in with the upper classes.  Higgins is incensed, not only about Eliza working there but also because Nepommuck is taking credit for her transformation.

And so Higgins digs up some dirt on Nepommuck and shares it with the newspapers.  The day the dirt hits the paper, Eliza finds Nepommuck dead in the hallway outside their offices with a knife in the back.  Scotland Yard thinks that Higgins makes the best suspect, but Eliza is sure he couldn’t have done it.  Together, Eliza and Higgins begin searching for other suspects.  What they learn is that many of Mepommuck’s students had reasons to kill him.  But did any of them actually do it?

Both Eliza and Higgins really are the stars of this book, and the narration divides time between both of them as our third person point of view characters.  They and the rest of the characters returning from the play are perfectly in character.  As a result, this already feels like a second book in a series and returning to old friends.  But if you have never met the characters before, don’t worry.  What you need to know will be explained.  The cast of fresh characters are just as interesting and charming as the returning characters.

The story moves forward at a steady pace with some twists along the way.  I sure was taken by surprise a few times as we headed to the logical climax.  And what fun that climax was (which is all I will say so I don’t spoil it).  The story is the perfect way to showcase these characters and even works in all the minor characters from the play logically along the way.

Plus we get a dash of humor that added to the fun.  Some of the scenes are dramatic and funny at the same time as Eliza slips back into her old ways or Higgins goes overboard yet again in his own behavior.  (Really, he can be such a jerk at times.)  I was certainly laughing along the way, which I always enjoy.

While the book is set in 1913 London, that was used as a great backdrop to the story without slowing it down.  We get the occasional observation about life back then, but more than anything it provides a great setting to the story that is unfolding before us.

With this perfect blend of great characters, twisty plot, humor, and historical background, it’s no wonder that Wouldn't It Be Deadly is a winner.  I’m already looking forward to seeing where solving murder takes Eliza and Higgins next.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mysteries.


  1. Thank you so much, Mark, for your kind words! Book two, Move Your Blooming Corpse, will be coming out September 22nd of this year.

  2. My Fair Lady is a film I fell in love with right after I saw Sabrina and fell in love with Audrey Hepburn, sometime in my late teens. How I never knew that Shaw had written a book about them. How did this pass me by? This looks so great. On to my TBR list it goes!

    1. Actually, Shaw's play is story that My Fair Lady is based on. It's very similar to the musical until the final couple of scenes.

      This book/new series that I just reviewed is by completely different authors, but it really does feel like what could have happened to next to everyone we know.

  3. I would have the same reservation -- I, too, liked all but the ending of My Fair Lady (she would have been better off with silly Freddy). But it looks like this turns out to be fun! The 1913 London setting appeals to me, too.

    Thanks for linking this to British Isles Friday!

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. If it helps any, she is with Freddy in this book (although Freddy does have some growing up to do, and Eliza sees it).