Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Dead Bore-Sheri Cobb South

A Dead Bore
Sheri Cobb South
Five Star, Dec 2008, $25.95
ISBN 9781594147111

In London with the Ton titillating over the murder of her husband, widow Lady Julia Fieldhurst decides it is time to rusticate so she does not have to see the gleeful looks of her peers and hear their gossipy whispered innuendos. Thus to ignore the scandal of her spouse’s homicide, Lady Julia travels to Yorkshire to stay with Sir Gerald and Lady Anne Hollingshead.

Her hosts at Hollingshead Place celebrate her arrival with a small dinner party in which guest Vicar Danvers provides the other diners with verbal extracts from a local history book he is almost finished writing. Soon after dinner, a fire at the vicarage kills Mr. Danvers. Julia sends a message to her London associate Bow Street runner John Pickett pleading with him to come to Yorkshire investigate what she believes was an arson murder related to the history book. Pickett, who because he is attracted to the out of his reach Lady, quickly arrives and masquerades as Julia's footman so that he can serendipitously investigate.

A DEAD BORE is a superb Regency mystery (see IN MILADY'S CHAMBER) that brings to life the aristocracy as well as the servants who reside under the stairs. The whodunit is cleverly set up so that the motive in general terms is obvious but specifically which passage is not; opportunity abound for many people who could have set the inferno. The subtle attraction between the lady and the runner enhances a strong early nineteenth century investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

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