An entertaining, if unremarkable, mystery. 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The blurb: Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.
Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.
But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.
This is a mystery/whodunnit set in the Victorian period and narrated in first person by Laetitia Rodd, an unusual cross of Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes (although more Marple than Holmes). When choosing this book I was hoping for an entertaining story with a strong heroine that would be a “break” after the dark psychological thrillers and fantasy novels I’ve been reading recently, and that’s exactly what I got. I’ve always enjoyed reading detective-style mysteries set in Victorian England. No matter how dastardly the crime, there’s always something peculiarly genteel and comforting about the rational forces of good tracking down and putting away the villain/s of the piece, usually without gallons of blood and gore.