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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 9 February 2012
This is the first in a series of cozy Victorian mysteries. Written by a husband and wife team under a pseudonym, the series looks to be promising based upon this book alone. It is well-written and evocative of a bygone era. It also features some enjoyable characters. As with all cozy mysteries, it is not so much the mystery that is of import but the characters that revolve around the mystery. While the mystery is intriguing, it is simply the framework around which the characters evolve. Those who enjoy the historical cozy mystery genre will definitely like this book.

The linchpin character of this series is a Ms. Kathryn Ardleigh, an American woman of English and Irish descent, who moves to England at the request of an aunt whom she did not know even existed. Kathryn is in her mid twenties and an independent, free-thinking woman for that era. Arriving in England, she makes the acquaintance of a Sir Charles Sheridan, a bachelor in his early thirties. Both are drawn to each other, though neither will admit it.

Of course, there are mysteries and murders to be solved, and Kathryn and Charles are hot on the trail left by the elusive killer. The story is told against a backdrop of the social mores of the time and upstairs/downstairs class distinctions, making for a highly atmospheric Victorian cozy. Those who enjoy this genre will most definitely like this book. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.
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on 20 May 2005
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.
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on 25 August 1999
This is my first Kate Ardleigh, and also my first book by Robin Paige. The authors certainly did their research, and they insist on giving you all of it. If you're mad about Victoriana, you'll love it. If you just wanted a good old mystery, like me, you'll probably find yourself skipping over huge, dense gobs of detail on such things as the cameras in use at the time. Also, Kate's in-your-face liberatedness seems a bit forced. That said, this is a solidly plotted mystery featuring many colorful characters, both lovable and deliciously hatable, and the sights, sounds and mannerisms of the era are well done. By the end of the book, I found myself appreciating Kate's bravado when she gets the killer. She's a pushy broad, but I guess she grew on me.
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on 5 October 2010
I got this book from my friend. I was surprised when I started reading it, how good it was. I really liked the characters in the book. Kate as she is called is such a interesting woman. She isn't like your regular english ladies.

First off she writes mystery novels which if became known would cause a scandel. Also she is interested in learning everything she can so she can put it in her books. She leaves the States to move to England to become a secretary for her aunt. One of the aunts is a nice lady and the other one isn't. Kate tries to ignore the horrible one and get on with her job.

That isn't easy when this aunt causes upset and unhappiness for all the staff and Kate feels as if this has cast a gloom over the house. Kate is asked by the aunt who hired her to investigate who is the mystery man found dead at a escavation site discreetly. This is the type of mystery Kate enjoys.

The other person in the book who is interested in the mystery man is a gentleman named Sir Charles Sheridan.He offers his help to the police who really aren't interested in solving this crime. He decides to investigate himself.
They don't get off to the best start as Sir Charles isn't to keen on Kate's character.

In the meanwhile two other people are murdered. But Kate is headstrong and sometime careless with regards to her life but she is determined to solve the crime.
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on 13 February 2017
The first book in a series of ten, I really enjoyed this book (and the rest of the series). They are written by an American couple and are set in the British Isles.
They have caught the English language and its idioms very well and their knowledge of all the places in the books is extensive and accurate.
They feature an English Lord and his American wife and cover a period of change in Britain with new technologies - motor cars, wireless ,fingerprints
begin to appear in crime detection. They also feature well-known people such as Conan Doyle, King Edward VII, Lily Langtry and Marconi.
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on 19 July 1999
If you enjoy Dianne Day and her Fremont Jones series, then this series will be for you.
Kate is on her own in the world and leaps at a chance for adventure. She journeys from America of the latish 1800's to England where she enters a different world entirely. I have more of this series sitting on the shelf waiting for me to have time for them. I highly recommend this series.
Also go out and get the China Bayles books by Susan Albert Wittig.
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on 11 November 2016
like all these books
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