Dianne Freeman: A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

What does an American-born aristocrat do when she becomes a young widow? Why, introduce her heiress niece to London society, start playing match-maker for other young American heiresses, and solve murders, of course.

In this lighthearted second installment in the Countess of Harleigh series, Frances has a serious problem. When her cousin Charles decides it’s time to look for a wife, Frances introduces him to her acquaintance Mary Archer. The romance doesn’t work out and soon after Charles and Mary part company, Mary is found dead, and Frances is determined to keep Charles from being accused of murder.

Frances’s gallant neighbor and love interest George Hazelton (who does something mysterious for the government) is asked to help the police with the investigation. Because Mary seemed to possess what appears to be volumes of blackmail information, he soon needs the help of Frances and her knowledge of aristocratic Society.

What makes the story amusing (besides the writing style) is the family obligations that hinder Frances’s investigation. Her sister/ward Lily is eager to announce her engagement, obliging Frances’s approval and a Society party. Lily’s friend, charmingly clumsy American heiress Charlotte, is eager to experience her first season in London and to attend every event she can, which requires Frances’s sponsorship. Aunt Hetty, who should be investigating the financial angle of the case, keeps showing up at social events with Lily and Charlotte in tow – just when Frances and George need to investigate suspects on their own.

What really drives the plot is Frances’s growing attraction to George. It’s fun watching the two decide just what kind of “partners” they want to be. There aren’t any huge plots twists but the end is satisfying and there’s a hint of what might lie in the future for Frances and George.

Readers who like light, funny, historical mysteries with a touch of romance will love this series.


Cathy Akers-Jordan is a writing instructor at the University of Michigan-Flint where she teaches composition, business communications, and technical writing. She also works with independent study students who are writing fantasy and science-fiction. Her current works-in-progress are crime fiction.