“It was the under-gardener who found her.”
When Catherine Kent’s fiance suddenly breaks off their engagement and vanishes, she is distraught. Who better than maiden aunt Miss Dido to rush to the country house of Catherine’s in-laws-to-be, to solve the mystery of the missing heir and groom? And while there, also to solve the mystery of the young woman found murdered in the shrubbery?
All the mystery happens before we start our journey with Miss Dido Kent, but we get plenty of shots at it with assorted re-tellings and interviews. Dido gets it all hopelessly wrong lots of times, but on each occasion her deductions seem logical. I spotted one or two things before she did, but they turned out to be wrong anyway. There was a great deal of plot thickening with assorted character twists and revelations, all great fun.
Miss Dido Kent is right up there with my favourite investigating protagonists. She’ll brook no nonsense, she indulges her niece too much, she knows her way in the world and doesn’t stand on ceremony. The rest of the characters left a little to be desired – the bullying Sir Edgar, mad Lady Montague, the two silly Misses Harris and their busybody mother… it was a carefully crafted cast of caricatures. However, crucially, there were enough other characters to keep this interesting – often these ye olde country mysteries can feel a bit stifled when the guest list is too short. And there was the odd promising side character who might hopefully turn up in a sequel…
Dean cheats a little, having Dido recount much of the tale through letters to her sister Eliza, but the writing is generally smooth and clever. Dido is given to some rather modern opinions for the time (or rather, less snobby opinions than one might have held in her position at the time) and unsurprisingly has a lot to say about the roles of women and professional people – which is of course what a modern reader wants! The sub-title was “Or, The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent” which sets the tone perfectly – a very cozy mystery but longer and better developed than other cozies (e.g. M. C. Beaton’s works)
I loved this – hopefully Dean will write some more Dido Kent mysteries! My copy of this had a preview of “A Gentleman of Fortune” in it so I shall be keeping an eye out for it!Additional information: Copy from Bookmooch. Publisher: Minotaur Books, 310 paperback pages Order Bellfield Hall: Or, the Deductions of Miss Dido Kent (Dido Kent Mysteries)from Amazon* * this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting