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Hunt for a murderer
on 22 August 2008
What starts off as a rather slow book developed into something that was interesting and enjoyable, if flawed in places. Lady Leticia Randall's husband is murdered and her brother Justin is the only suspect - he was at the house that evening and has fled the scene, leaving behind bloodstained clothing at his rooms. Yet Leticia knows Justin wouldn't have killed Randall and so she goes for help to one man she can trust, her former lover, Christian Allardyce, the 6th Marquess of Deane.
Christian and Leticia's history is complicated. Everyone thought they would marry but twelve years before Christian went off to serve King and country and whilst he was away Leticia married Randall. They've barely seen each other since but Christian immediately comes to Leticia's aid.
As they begin to search for clues to the murder they discover that Leticia really didn't know a great deal about her husband. As his private affairs are slowly unpicked Leticia and Christian find that he is a man of many secrets and that it will take more expertise than they have to get to the bottom of them. At the same time as the search for the truth of Randall's murderer, Christian has to try to convince Leticia to trust him and to come to see that her place is by his side. But if they get too close to the truth of the murderer, might they not be risking their own safety?
This was a surprisingly long book and it moved quite slowly. The interest built step by step as the layers in the plot were brought to light. After the first few chapters the book settled into a rather uneasy format where we followed Christian and Leticia's murder investigation during the day and then spectated on their bedsport at night, then on to the next day. As the book made progress we spent more time on the investigation and less on the romance and this was rather an improvement. As far as the romance side went, it was understated in some ways as it was a rekindling of love between people who had been incredibly close in their past. The characterisation of both Christian and Leticia was sparse at times - Leticia has a temper, we learn, and Christian is very controlled and calm, but this reader never felt like she really got to know them.
Although I did enjoy this book I was rather dubious about some of the behaviour of the main characters in that historical context. The lead couple spending pretty much every night in bed in each others' houses, with Lady Randall a widow of just a few days and still theoretically in deep mourning, felt rather too unlikely. Where were all the servants in a Marquess's house who would normally have noticed this kind of thing. It appeared necessary for Laurens' romance side of the plot but it all felt a bit too modern for the Regency period.
Despite this the rest of the book was a good read and I didn't guess the murderer until the end when they were revealed. Although part of a series this book worked well on its own and set up the reader for the next and last in the series, featuring Royce Dalziel.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008