Murder at Wedgefield Manor is the delightful second book in Erica Ruth Neubauer’s series set in the 1920s, featuring the adventurous American World War I widow Jane Wunderly. After solving a mystery in Egypt in the first book, Murder at the Mena House, Jane, her matchmaking Aunt Millie, and Millie’s secret daughter Lillian arrive at Wedgefield Manor, the English country estate of Lord Hughes, who had been Millie’s lover years ago. Quite possibly, Millie and Hughes are rekindling their romance. Lillian is the product of their brief affair. Lord Hughes and his wife had adopted Lillian and raised her as their own, and as far as Jane knows, Lillian is not aware of the fact that Millie is her mother–a fact that Jane had uncovered in the course of her investigation in Egypt, where she met Lillian for the first time.
Death, Diamonds, and Deception is the fifth book in Rosemary Simpson’s Gilded Age mystery series set in New York City in the 1880s. It’s the first I’ve read, but I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely look for the others. The two protagonists are heiress Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, who are partners in a detective agency. Prudence is the daughter of a wealthy judge, a prominent man in New York, who died about two years before this book begins. She is part of the city’s elite, the world of the Astors and Vanderbilts, even though she defies the standards of that society by becoming a detective. Geoffrey is a Southerner who came to New York around the time of the Civil War because he was anti-slavery. He is quite a bit older than she is. Prudence is around twenty, and, although Geoffrey’s age is not specified, it seems that he was already an adult at the time of the Civil War, so he must be in his early forties at least.
A Trace of Deceit is the third Victorian mystery by Karen Odden, who has taught at the University of Michigan. It is a suspenseful, compelling novel set in London’s art world in 1875. The protagonist, a talented young painter named Annabel Rowe, is one of the few female students at the Slade School of Art, one of the only art schools to admit women at the time. When she goes to visit her brother Edwin, she finds the police in his rooms, searching through his belongings. Of course, Edwin has been murdered, and Annabel, while shocked, is not wholly surprised. Edwin, a brilliant young artist, has led a dissolute life of gambling and drug use, and had recently been released from prison, where he spent time for forgery. Annabel and Edwin were close as children, but had grown apart after Edwin left for boarding school, and he had hoped to rebuild his relationship with her. Annabel wants to believe Edwin had reformed, but she is not always so sure, and she blames him for their parents’ deaths, because they died of a fever they supposedly caught from Edwin after one of his visits to an opium den.
This review comes to us courtesy of long time Aunt Agatha’s book club member and friend, Vicki Kondelik. This novel will be published on December 31, 2019 and is available for pre-order.
And Dangerous to Know is the third in a series by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel) set in Regency England and featuring Rosalind Thorne, a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after her father abandoned his family because he was heavily in debt. I have not read the previous two, but this book made me want to go back and read them. It stands on its own very well, and I was able to gather all the information I needed about Rosalind’s background.