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Kate Ardleigh is everything the Victorian English gentlewoman is not-outspoken, free-thinking, American...and a writer of the frowned upon penny dreadfuls. Soon after her arrival in Essex, England, a body is unearthed in a nearby archeological dig-and Kate has the chance to not only research her latest story but to begin her first case with amateur detective Sir Charles Sheridan.… (mer)
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good victorian mystery - characters are great - i hope they write more ( )
  lkubed | Oct 8, 2022 |
An American young woman, who secretly writes “penny dreadfuls” goes to England to act as a secretary to one of her aunts who belongs to a mysterious cult. The two aunts live at Bishops Keep and aunt Sabina wants Kate to catalog her collection of papers on a mysterious cult. There’s a murder at an archeological dig nearby and she meets Sir Charles who is intrigued by the independent woman. When her two aunts are poisoned, Kate investigates on her own and while Charles is working on the dig murder, the two cases overlap and they manage separately solve the cases together. ( )
  Kathy89 | May 19, 2022 |
When an independent writer of thrillers is invited to live with and work for an aunt in England that she did not know she had, she is doubtful but ready for adventure. When she learns of a murder in the vicinity it seems an opportunity to add realistic details of detection to her writing. In the process she gets to know Sir Charles Sheridan, a local amateur photographer. The atmosphere of her aunts; house is strained. A younger, more conservative aunt runs the household and disapproves of creature comforts for servants. Kate eventually learn that the cook and other servants blame Aunt Jaggers for the death of a parlor maid who was discharged because of pregnancy. When both aunts die of mushroom poisoning the cook is an obvious suspect, but a clue provided by Sir Charles leads Kate to the actual killer. The plot involves a fictionalized version of the Society of the Golden Dawn and actual members including Yeats make brief appearances. ( )
  ritaer | Aug 28, 2020 |
A nicely observed story of Victorian England, with period details such as clothing styles, modes of transport and social niceties well described. One criticism - the author's American background gives her away in the occasional use of American spelling, and the use of terms such as sidewalk for pavement, railroad for railway and autopsy for post mortem seem a little incongruous in a novel trying to be very English! ( )
  Stroudley | Dec 22, 2018 |
New York in the 1890s, Kathryn Ardleigh is not the expected gentlewoman of the times to be, she is a writer. Not just of nice woman fiction but of the "penny-dreadfuls" filled with violence, romance and adventure. She writes under the name of Beryl Bardwell as it is a career that is frowned upon for women. Kate has found it has paid her bills since her previous employer passed away, leaving her without a job. To go back to being a secretary-companion or governess was just too dreary.

She finds herself being shadowed by a man in a bowler one night, when she is going to collect payment for her latest story. When she confronts the man, he hands her a card and tells her to appear at the address on it - Pinkerton Detectives. This sets in motion events that will completely change her world.

She is given paid passage to sail to England to her father's ancestral estate. An aunt, Kate has no knowledge of, wants her to come live with her at Bishop's Keep. Kate is given the choice to accept or refuse the offer. Being a little impulsive and feeling that there could be some good material for a future story, Kate accepts.

When Kate arrives, she finds it isn't as wonderful as she expected. It seems that there is Aunt Sabina, who sent for her, and Aunt Jaggers - Sabina's older sister. Jaggers is a bitter woman with many dark secrets. Her hold over Sabina is a puzzle to Kate.

When a body is found at an archaeological dig nearby, Kate sees a chance for research for the story she is currently writing, in secret. There is also the mystery of the Order of the Golden Dawn and what its connection is to Sabina and the murdered man. It is a secret society that has wide reaching branches.

Sir Charles Sheridan, a gentleman and amateur detective, is introduced to Kate by neighbours and also develops an interest in this interesting American woman. She isn't like the Victorian women he is used to.

The characters are quite enjoyable and interesting. The house staff knows the secrets, but they are not quick to give any information. Kate's independence gets her into some close spots and the competition that evolves between her and Sheridan is good. Not a simple mystery, but to me that is a good thing! ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Jun 14, 2017 |
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I intend to illuminate the Ledger with a blood & thunder tale as they are easy to "compoze" & are better paid than moral & elaborate works of Shakespeare so don't be shocked if I send you a paper containing a picture of Indians, pirates, wolves bears & distressed damsels in a grand tableau over a title like this "The Maniac Bride" or "The Bath of Blood A Thrilling Tale of Passion."
--Louisa May Alcott, to her friend Alf Whitman
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Our deep appreciation goes to Ruby Hild and her late husband, Ron, without whose introduction to East Anglia and to things British this book would never have been written. We are also grateful to our longtime friend Reginald Wright Barker for allowing us to use his collection of photography books.
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Kate Ardleigh is everything the Victorian English gentlewoman is not-outspoken, free-thinking, American...and a writer of the frowned upon penny dreadfuls. Soon after her arrival in Essex, England, a body is unearthed in a nearby archeological dig-and Kate has the chance to not only research her latest story but to begin her first case with amateur detective Sir Charles Sheridan.

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