The Secrets of Wishtide (Laetitia Rodd Mystery), by Kate Saunders
Kate Saunders has written about a dozen novels in various genres and themes including romances, magic, and historical novels. In this book she introduces a new detective hero for cozy mystery fans named Laetitia Rodd.
Set in the middle of the 19th century Rodd is a widow with no pension. She has the luck to have a brother who is a criminal lawyer in London and though this is the first book in what may be a series she has apparently helped with ticklish investigations in the past. In this particular story she’s hired to investigate the background of a young woman engaged to the son of a wealthy family, Charles Calderstone. The family actually wants to dig up some dirt on the young widow in hopes of discouraging the marriage. Rodd agrees to take on the role of new governess for Charles’ younger sisters giving her the chance to investigate and eavesdrop. Along with finding out about the young woman she discovers a troubled family, a buried scandal, and a villain who may well take Rodd’s life.
Laetitia Rodd and her landlady/roommate Mrs. Bentley are fun characters and Saunders introduces a range of interesting servants and “posh” characters with a compelling story that flows well with a strong mystery at the core. The blurbs on the book say it’s “Dickensian in scope” which was clearly written by someone who heard about Dickens but never read him. There are, however, well-written locales from Victorian England along with a book scattering of characters that have a Dickensian feel to them. I enjoyed the book and hope Saunders decides to stick with the detective in some future books. She’s laid a good foundation here with some attractive recurring characters.