Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: A Victorian Book Club Mystery #1
Publication Date: 5/12/20
Number of Pages: 320
This is the first book in a new series by Callie Hutton, and I believe it is also her first cozy mystery. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it because historical mysteries are my favorite sub-genre and she is one of my favorite authors. It sounds like a marriage made in heaven doesn’t it? The mystery is interesting, well-plotted, and well-executed while the characters are very believable and relatable. The story was a bit slower moving and less exciting than I normally like, but it was still an excellent read. The groundwork was laid for a future relationship between the two main characters and possibly the set-up for the next murder to solve. I believe I have read that the series is set to be limited to just a few books (maybe 3 or so), but I enjoyed the characters so much I would like to see many more books in the series – à la Stephanie Plum.
Lady Amy Lovell is an independent thinking suffragette and mystery writer, much to her father’s chagrin. Amy’s father, the Marquess of Winchester, won’t stop her from writing her books, but he insists she write under a pseudonym – and not tell ANYONE she is the actual writer. He had despaired of ever getting his daughter wed, but when Mr. Ronald St. Vincent travels to London and offers for Amy, her father sees his chance to get his daughter ‘settled’. He cajoles and persuades until finally, Amy agrees. Of course, she immediately has second thoughts about it but lets the betrothal continue – until – she gets word of some underhanded dealings of St. Vincent –then she immediately summons him to her home and breaks the betrothal. When St. Vincent is found dead just a few days later, in the library of Amy’s home, she is immediately the main suspect of Detectives Edwin Marsh and Ralph Carson. The detectives don’t seem inclined to look for any other suspects, so it will be up to Amy to solve the murder.
Viscount William Wethington has known Amy for many years and they have had a distant friendship. Not close, but cordial. They are both members of the Mystery Book Club of Bath and they have danced a few times at assemblies. When he arrives at her home to drop off a book she had asked to borrow, he heard her screaming and rushed into the library to find her, covered in blood, with a dead body at her feet.
Amy is the driving force behind their investigation and William is more the unwilling partner who keeps trying to get her to let someone else handle it. However, he goes along with whatever she asks and assists in the investigation. They are thrown together more and more and begin to have respect and regard for each other that hasn’t been there before, but it doesn’t develop into a real romance.
Just when you think you know who the culprit is – the investigation shifts and you think – Well maybe not. It is fun to figure out who is connected to who and how they are connected – and to finally learn who the real villain is.
I enjoyed the read and I’m looking forward to the next one. I did, however, think things moved a bit slowly. Perhaps we could leave out how many times they wiped their mouths after eating or how Amy was tired and took naps, etc. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy those things – they just seemed extraneous and didn’t move the plot along. I would also have enjoyed more of the romance to develop in this book rather than seeing just the hint of it – that it could go either way. I’m sure the romance will get there, but, for this reader, I like heavy doses of romance along with my mysteries.
Again, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and am looking forward to the next book in the series.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.