Barbara’s Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Series: Detective Lavender Mysteries #6
Publication Date: 2/1/2020
Number of Pages: 354
It is official, Detective Stephen Lavender, along with Constable Ned Woods, can out sleuth Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson! What a pair. Lavender is smart, intuitive, logical, as well as well-spoken and well-dressed, while Constable Woods is more like a bull in a china shop – until it comes to dealing with people – especially the common people. Woods is a comforting, pleasant soul with the servants and they just love to talk with him. He can wheedle the best secrets out of them. Poor Lavender, despite all of his smarts, is often a bit more taciturn and abrasive – probably because he’s already five steps ahead of the rest of them.
If you read this author’s short story, The Death of Irish Nell, you’ll already know the background for this book. If you haven’t read the short story, there is plenty of background provided in this book for you to know what happened previously – and what lead, in part, to this story. In the short story, we learned that Detective Lavender did something we never thought we’d see him do – and it has been his secret and his burden to bear for the last ten years. Now, it might have come back to haunt him.
Lavender and Woods are tired. They’ve been on the road working case after case for weeks and they just want to go home to London. However, that isn’t to be because Magistrate Read of Bow Street has just sent them off to another case in the city of Ely. A woman named Mrs. Olivia Quinn has specifically asked for Lavender and Woods to come to Willow Marsh Manor to investigate a murder. As they rattle along in the coach, one of the passengers recognizes that they are Bow Street Runners. Since the man is from Ely, they begin to ask him questions about Willow Marsh Manner and its inhabitants. What they learn is a surprise – the mistress of Willow Marsh Manner is named Delamere – not Quinn. Has someone pulled a joke on Bow Street? But – that name – Delamere – sounds familiar to Lavender, but since he’s handled so many cases over the years, he can’t place it – yet.
It has been raining and flooding in the area for weeks and there is no way to reach the manor other than by boat. The manor is virtually cut off from the world – surrounded by bogs, marshes, and flooded impassable roads. When they finally manage to reach the manor it is to find that the patriarch of the most dysfunctional family you’ll ever meet has just died – of natural causes. There hasn’t been a murder – so why are they there? Ned is ready to head back to London, but Lavender thinks there is something more to the story. When Miranda Delamere tells Lavender she’d like them to investigate the attempted murder of her niece, Susanna. Lavender’s spidey senses are working overtime and he senses currents and undercurrents aplenty among this family.
There are schemes within schemes, old enemies, new enemies, old secrets and only a finite group of suspects. Can Lavender sort it all out before someone dies? Is someone targeting Lavender? Then, the body of one of the servants is found. Why was he in that location? The death was brutal, who would murder such a well-respected man so brutally?
You’ll love watching Lavender sort it all out, uncover everybody’s secrets and identify the bad buys. Can they capture them? Will some or all of them manage to escape? You’ll just have to read this excellently written, fast-paced, well-plotted, and exciting adventure to find out.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.