Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: A Lady Fan Mystery #5
Publication Date: 4/13/19
Number of Pages: 374
This is the fifth book in the series, but can easily be read as a standalone. However, should you read it as a standalone, you will miss some of the intricacies of the relationships between the two lead characters and some family members. I had read the first couple of books in the series and did not like Ottilia at all, so I thought I’d wait a few books and try another one to see if the author had decided to mellow her at all. I believe that Ottilia is more likable in this book and more relatable, but I still haven’t grown to love her.
There is a nice mystery in the book, but the pace is as slow as molasses running uphill in the winter. I know the author had a hard time finding a way to have the accused actually be in danger of being hanged – I know because she said so in the Reader Notes in the back of the book. Anyway – her solution just didn’t work for me. It mainly didn’t work because in order for me to buy the solution, Sir Thomas Ingham, the magistrate, had to suddenly become a stupid, backward, misogynist – and he has never been that way in the past books. Sir Thomas had to be that stupid all the way through the book – even at the end. Also – Lord Fanshawe had to be stupid as well – at least for a while. So, while I understand the author’s dilemma, her solution just didn’t seem plausible to me.
Ottilia (Lady Fan) and her husband Lord Fanshawe are returning to London to help resolve some family issues. As they are nearing London, they see a lone woman, covered in blood, standing in the middle of the road. She is totally incoherent, she doesn’t speak, she just stares and points to the wooded area along the road. As they search the area, they discover the body of a dead man.
They take the woman along with them and try to make her comfortable while they report the crime to Sir Thomas Ingham. Once the body is recovered, the medical examiner determines the cause of death. That cause isn’t the injury that Meg inflicted on the man, but Sir Thomas blames Meg anyway. Kind of like she was fighting with him, so she is the one who caused the death.
Ottilia is determined to solve the mystery and prove Meg’s innocence, but all seems to work against her. Even Ottilia’s family members get involved as well as the French émigré’s. Then, there is a surprise twist at the end which is interesting.
I wouldn’t read this book again, but I’m glad I gave the series one more try.
The Gilded Shroud is the first book in the series – and is the only one I have read/reviewed.