Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Lady Montford Mystery #4
Publication Date: 3/13/18
Well, their carefully guarded secret is out. Lady Montford and Mrs. Jackson solve mysteries, and they are very good at it! Everyone knows and smiles about it, but our erstwhile investigators aren’t aware that everyone knows. So, it is entertaining to see their reactions throughout the book when one person or another mentions their penchant for solving mysteries.
This book is just exactly what I’ve been wanting in the series, a glimpse of Lady Montford’s family – especially her husband. He’s been a shadow figure in the previous books and we had learned that he was tolerant of her investigations, etc. but we really didn’t know him. I was delighted to meet him and came to admire him greatly. He is every inch the gentleman, loves his family, loves his country, loves his wife and supports her in every way. I love their relationship. So, thank you, Ms. Arlen, for providing this view of Lord and Lady Montford and their children.
This story begins about two years after the last book ended – we are well into World War I. England’s citizens have geared up and patriotism is at an all-time high. Everybody is contributing – all of the horses have been conscripted and are serving on the continent just as the men are. At home, everyone’s attention is on growing food to feed the army and producing munitions and other items that are needed. Everyone pitches in, even the aristocracy. Not only is the son and heir to the Montford title serving as a pilot in the RAF (though he is home injured at the moment), the daughter is serving with the Women’s Land Army, and the parents have started a hospital, Haversham Hall Hospital, for the treatment of those who have been shell-shocked.
I love the history in the book, especially about the budding science of psychiatry for helping the shell-shocked victims of the war. All too often, those suffering from shell-shock were further tortured with electro-therapy and other ways of quickly getting them ‘well’ and back to the battlefield. The doctor’s at Haversham Hall Hospital used both talk therapy and a type of ergo therapy – which is basically performing everyday tasks – like farming, harvesting, gardening to help them work through their issues.
Lady Montford and Mrs. Jackson are a formidable team when it comes to investigating crimes. They are so different, you would think that they’d never get along – but they are more friends than employer/employee. Lady Montford is more of an intuitive thinker and Mrs. Jackson is more of a logical step-by-step thinker. Their strengths play off each other and they soon solve whatever crime is at hand.
All crime stories require a victim, but I just hate that the victim required for this story was Captain Sir Evelyn Bray. It seems he had found himself during the war. He’d been a bit of a profligate before, but his bravery and leadership shone once he joined the military. He suffered a great injury during the Battle of Beauville Wood while he was trying to save the remaining men in his troops. When he awoke, he had no memory of who he was or what had happened. He was then sent to the Haversham Hall Hospital to see if Major Andrews could help him with his groundbreaking therapies. After only a few weeks, he was beginning to get his memory back. Then, he was murdered.
There are suspects aplenty in this mystery and you don’t want it to be any of those walking wounded at the hospital. Could it be someone on the staff? What about those individuals in the neighborhood who think the patients at the hospital are cowards who are shirking their duty rather than going back into battle where they belong. It is a twisted tale and you begin to wonder how in the world anyone will find the solution – but they do.
I can certainly recommend this book. I love the characters and plot. From early on, I had a good idea of who the culprit was and was anxious to see if I was right and if I was, to see how they did it.
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