12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Spiritualists, Scarabs, and Hags-Oh My,
This review is from: Death at Bishop's Keep (Victorian Mystery) (Mass Market Paperback)
Husband and wife team Susan and Bill Albert, writing under the pseudonym Robin Paige, launch with this book a series of Victorian mysteries. This being the first book in a series the first order of business is to introduce the readers to the main characters and this writing duo does a fine job of it. We are first introduced to Miss Kate Ardleigh, an American woman in her mid twenties who has been raised by her maternal uncle after the deaths of her English father and Irish mother. Kate works as a personal secretary for ladies in New York and secretly writes a mystery serial for a New York newspaper. She keeps it a secret and writes under a pseudonym because Victorian ladies aren't supposed to even read mystery novels, let alone write them.
Kate ends up going to England to work for her father's sister, an aunt that she never knew existed and finds that this aunt is quite well off. She also finds another aunt, a vile wretch of a woman who knows something on the good aunt and holds it over her head so that she will be allowed to live at Bishop's Keep and run the household. It doesn't take the reader long to really despise Aunt Jaggers and since this is a mystery I read on vigorously in hopes that somebody would murder this hateful old hag.
Soon after her arrival in England, Kate makes the acquaintance of Sir Charles Sheridan, an amateur photographer who believes that technology like the camera and fingerprinting are the wave of the future when it comes to solving crimes. When Kate first meets him he is already trying to solve the mysterious murder of a stranger whose body was found in an archeological dig. Kate becomes immediately intrigued because she wants to study real crimes in order to gain material for her so-called penny dreadful mystery series.
As the story evolves there are two more murders to be solved, a cult to be infiltrated and peacock feathers to be traced. All in all, I must say that this is a very good and imaginative mystery novel with wonderful plot twists and enough clues to allow the reader to figure out the mystery if you pay close attention. The characters are very well developed and are incredibly believable and the historical detail is marvelous and adds a great deal to the story. There is also a slight thread of sexual tension running throughout the book that I assume will come to something farther along in the series. I already have found myself becoming attached to these fictional characters, especially the cook who seems like my kind of woman. Finally, all of the loose ends are wrapped up at the end of the story, which is a virtue that many books of this type do not share. Nothing irritates me more than red herrings that are just forgotten about and never explained. Thankfully that trait is gloriously absent from this book.
I found that this book started off a little slowly and I wasn't at all sure that I was going to like this series, but I must admit that the story picked up in a hurry and I soon found that I was having trouble putting it down. I lost some sleep by reading when I should have been in bed but I think that my sleep depravation was well worth it. I highly recommend this book.