In three mysteries set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—an era full of misconceptions about “the fairer sex”—women of action match wits with philandering villains, escaped cons and dodgy doctors.
Dickensian in its scope and characters, The Secrets of Wishtide brings nineteenth century society vividly to life and illuminates the effect of Victorian morality on women’s lives. Introducing an irresistible new detective, the first book in the Laetitia Rodd Mystery series will enthrall and delight.
Laetitia Rodd, is the narrator of this lively series debut set in 1850.At age fifty-two left in reduced circumstances by her clergyman husband’s death. She is now living with her working-class friend and landlady, Mary Bentley, in the London village of Hampstead. To supplement her income and exercise her quick wits. Laetitia conducts confidential inquiries for her brother.
Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in nearby Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow.
Influential peer Sir James Calderstone hires the siblings to investigate the background of Helen Orme, the beautiful but mysterious widow whom his son, Charles, wants to marry against James’s wishes. In the guise of a governess, Laetitia travels to Wishtide, the Calderstone Lincolnshire estate, where she discovers that not only Mrs. Orme but also the Calderstones themselves are hiding scandalous secrets. When Mrs. Orme is found murdered and Charles is accused, Laetitia strives to save him from the gallows.
The good bits
This is an enjoyable read for fans of Agatha Christie, Trollope, and the Victorian era.
The plot was engaging and easy to follow. There were a variety of interesting, unique characters. (I really liked Laetitia and Freddy.) The historical environment of the story captured my attention … especially the portions related to the woman’s role in that society. The dialogue seemed authentic. All-in-all, this made a pleasant read that I would recommend.
The bad bits
I felt like this narrative bought into the “Angels of the Homestead” Victorian bit too much: all the women are good-hearted and love the assholes they’re partnered with in spite of the assholes being completely reprehensible in almost every case. Take Lady Calderstone, who invites her husband’s mistress into her home so they can make amends. Or Mrs. Gammon, one of 3 so-called wives, who stayed loyal to her abusive drunkard of a partner. It all got to be a bit much, you know?