My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: John Pickett Mysteries #8
Publication Date: 10/15/18
I absolutely adore John Pickett. He is a great character who has overcome so many obstacles in his life. He’s handsome, smart, self-deprecating, honorable, honest, honorable (yes, twice) and loyal. Are Julia and John a very unlikely match? Yes, they certainly are, but the author deals with it wonderfully. She didn’t sugar coat the ramifications of two such different classes marrying. She shows them living as social outcasts and dealing with what happens. She shows John’s mortification when someone snubs Julia because of her marriage to him and his guilt and mortification when income is discussed since Julia’s income is so much more than his. She also shows John’s worry about their children (Julia is expecting) and how it will affect them. What she also shows is the great love between Julia and John. I love how they care for each other and I love the way they have each grown and matured over the eight books in the series.
John is just a smidgen late reporting for work (because, after all, he is a newlywed) and he’s expecting a bit of a set-down from his Magistrate, Mr. Colquhoun. However, what he got was a new assignment and a honeymoon in the Lake District. Mr. Colquhoun received a very short unsigned letter asking for a Runner to be sent to the village of Banfell in Cumberland. It doesn’t say why the sender needs a runner nor does it give any indication at all about who sent the letter. The Runner is simply directed to stay at the Hart and Hound in Banfell.
John and Julia head for Banfell with a letter of introduction from Mr. Colquhoun to a Mr. Hetherington, an acquaintance that Mr. Colquhoun thinks can help introduce John and Julia to the area and provide information on the area when needed. They check into the inn, make sure that everyone knows they are from Bow Street without actually saying John is a Runner, and wait for the letter sender to make himself known. When he doesn’t appear, John decides to compare the letter with the signatures in the inn’s register and is convinced that the sender is actually Mr. Ned Hawkins, the innkeeper.
When Julia witnesses Mr. Hawkins being murdered, but cannot recognize the murderer, the case begins in earnest. We have lots of suspects and some sub-plots going on. Just enough to keep it all really interesting without losing sight of the main case. Poor John is a bit distracted and frazzled because he is constantly worrying about the danger Julia is now in because of her witnessing the murder. The villain will surprise you and the reasons will pain you.
I learned something interesting in this read as well. Whoo-hoo – who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In the Regency period, when you went to the post office, you were NOT going to mail a letter. The post office was where you went to arrange for a rented post-chaise (think rental car). If you wanted to mail a letter, you went to the receiving office.
The villain makes a bit of a threat at the end – and it was left unanswered – so I can only wonder if it might crop up in some future story. I’m not sure how or why, but it was sort of left hanging. Actually, all of the mysteries, other than the murder, were sort of still hanging and had others investigating at the end. It was nothing to do with John and Julia, just folks with different fish to fry. I did wonder how the villain came by the information that he had – I couldn’t see anything in the story that pointed to him being in a position to obtain that sort of information, but – evidently, he did.
This is a great addition to the series and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Actually, if you haven’t read the other books in the series – I recommend ALL of them.
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