First Sentence: When the telephone rang downstairs so early that Saturday morning, Ursula Marlow knew it could only be bad news.
Ursula Marlow is the daughter of a wealthy businessman. She is Oxford educated and a suffragette; a transitional woman in a period of change. A friend has woken next to the body of her murdered lesbian lover and calls Ursula for help.
After the victim's father commits suicide, Ursula uncovers a link to an expedition 20-years' ago to Venezuela. In spite of danger, tragedy and men trying to protect her, Ursula is determined to prove her friend innocent.
At the beginning, I was afraid both the book and the character was going to be quite light and vapid. Boy was I wrong. The protagonist, Ursula, does begin as indulged and a big whiney but transforms into a brave, determined and strongly independent woman. She is a woman caught in an interesting time of social revolution; women moving from the Victorian era to a modern era of independence and the right to vote.
The author did a wonderful job of conveying sense of place. Even more so, and more rarely, the author creates a very strong, evocative description of sense of loss and grief. The story has good suspense, and excellent twist, a climatic ending wherein the protagonist saves herself, and a nice romance that is very well done.
I did have a couple small quibbles: the author overused the description of "a single lock of hair falling..." and, when the heroine is rendered unconscious, it is always for several days. I really did enjoy the story and shall definitely read the next in the series.