A Victorian murder series

Delving into the treasures to be found in charity shops often introduces me to new authors and series. It is easier to take a gamble on something you are unsure about when you are only paying a small price for the book – if I enjoy it I will almost certainly buy others by that author second-hand or even new. A recent series I have discovered is by Robin Paige and the first book is Death at Bishop’s Keep. It’s yet another historical mystery series with a “feisty” female character but I thought that it was well done and very enjoyable.

The series is set in Victorian England where Kathryn Ardleigh, an American writer of gory crime stories, is invited to become the assistant to a hitherto unknown relative. Kate is personally at a bit of a loose end and so she travels to England where she lives at Bishop’s Keep with two elderly sisters, one of whom she adores and the other of whom she greatly dislikes.

When a body is found at a nearby archaeological dig Kate is asked by her relative to investigate quietly to determine the identity of the victim. She comes up against wealthy gentleman Sir Charles Sheridan who is also investigating. The two clash from time to time but it is obvious that they also have a growing attraction for one another which the author handles well without letting it overtake the main story.

The history is well done and Kate is allowed to be slightly non-conformist because she is American and Sir Charles can obviously do anything he wants because he is male, rich and titled. It is amusing to see how Sir Charles regards Kate and how the two of them interpret the same thing in different ways. The author is also good about including the servants’ stories and opinions as part of the narrative.

This is a book about fraud, domestic abuse, class, secret societies and blackmail and it’s great fun despite the murders that take place. A very satisfying read and the beginning of a series so there will be more to come.

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