In this exciting historical mystery debut set in Victorian England, a wealthy young widow encounters the pleasures—and scandalous pitfalls—of a London social season . . .
Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, enjoys more freedom as a widow than she did as a wife. After an obligatory year spent mourning her philandering husband, Reggie, she puts aside her drab black gowns, leaving the countryside and her money-grubbing in-laws behind. With her young daughter in tow, Frances rents a home in Belgravia and prepares to welcome her sister, Lily, arriving from New York—for her first London season.
No sooner has Frances begun her new life than the ghosts of her old one make an unwelcome appearance. The Metropolitan police receive an anonymous letter implicating Frances in her husband’s death. Frances assures Inspector Delaney of her innocence, but she’s also keen to keep him from learning the scandalous circumstances of Reggie’s demise. As fate would have it, her dashing new neighbor, George Hazelton, is one of only two other people aware of the full story.
While busy with social engagements on Lily’s behalf, and worrying if Reggie really was murdered, Frances learns of mysterious burglaries plaguing London’s elite. The investigation brings death to her doorstep, and Frances rallies her wits, a circle of gossips, and the ever-chivalrous Mr. Hazelton to uncover the truth. A killer is in their midst, perhaps even among her sister’s suitors. And Frances must unmask the villain before Lily’s season—and their lives—come to a most unseemly end . . .
Well what a charming and engrossing read!
I decided to listen to that one after seeing it was narrated by Sarah Zimmerman. I recently came to appreciate her talent as a narrator in A Good Marriage and wanted to listen to more of books she narrated.
This story si a cross between cozy mystery and historical fiction.
Our heroine, Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh by marriage is like a younger high society Miss Marple in that series.
At the beginning of the story she finally decided to come out of mourning after her husband Reggie died in a quite dramatic fashion one year earlier.
He was found dead in his mistress’s bed under Frances roof!
It ensued a hush hush scene where said mistress was very distressed and woke up the wife, Frances, to help move the body to his room! Frances had no idea of the affair but took it in stride, enrolling the help of her best friend’s brother, the discreet and reliable George Hazelton. Sworn to secrecy, no one suspected the undignified death.
Now that Frances has decided to move to London with her money, her in law family will try everything to have her keep funding the old estate, even at the cost of a legal battle.
But Frances is resourceful and is decided to enjoy her new freedom and introduce her sister, recently arrived from the States with their aunt to high society in search of a good husband.
Between balls and social calls, Frances will become involved in solving thefts plaguing the London high society and trying to find a murderer.
I loved how astute Frances was and with only her keen observations and clever mind she processed to outwit the London police, aided by none other than dashing George Hazelton who became her neighbor!
The narration really added layers to Frances character. Her poise, self-control and determination. Acting like a proper lady by day and like a daring spy by night!
Add to it strolls in Hyde Park with dashing gentlemen, balls, tea parties and social calls in Victorian London and you have a very enjoyable read!
I already know that I’ll listen to the other books of that series! For lovers of Miss Marple and Bridgerton.
NB By the time I am posting this review, mere days after, I must confess that I will soon begin the fourth book in the series! It’s so addictive, charming and astute!
Thanks for reading.