I received a copy from the publisher for review
Title: A Laetitia Rodd Mystery: The Secrets of Wishtide
Author: Kate Saunders
Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction
Published: 1st August 2016
Format: Trade Paperback edition
Synopsis: Mrs Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon. Living in Well Walk, Hampstead, with her confidante and landlady, Mrs Benson (who once let rooms to John Keats), Mrs Rodd makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.
Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighbouring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Fred finds the cases, and Mrs Rodd solves them, using her arch-intelligence, her iron discretion and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow.
When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly-connected Sir James Calderstone, Mrs Rodd sets off for Lincolnshire, to take up a position as the family’s new governess – quickly making herself indispensable.
But the seemingly simple case – looking into young Charles Calderstone’s ‘inappropriate’ love interest – soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Mrs Rodd discovers the Calderstone’s have more to hide than most.
The Secrets of Wishtide introduces readers to Mrs Laetitia Rodd, an amateur private detective in the Victorian era. Mrs Rodd uses her discretion and mannerisms as a lady of the times to her advantage to gain access to people and information that might otherwise be hidden away. When she is asked to investigate the female companion of a wealthy family, Mrs Rodd soon finds that some families have deeper secrets than others, and the Calderstones are no exception. The unpleasant turn in the case leads Mrs Rodd into a world of secrets that she never anticipated.
Amateur detective stories seem to be quite popular these days, much like Miss Marple and Poirot were and still are. From Mma Ramotswe, to Rowland Sinclair, Taylor Bridges, Cass Lehmann and now, Laetitia Rodd, I am enjoying investigating cases with these detectives, whether they stumble across them or are purposely engaged to investigate, as Mrs Rodd is. Perhaps the appeal of these amateur detectives is that they are relatable. They are not constrained by the rules that a police force might be, and though a character like Mrs Rodd might be accused of being a busybody, it is this characteristic that makes her appealing and a joy to read.
Kate Saunders has captured the essence of Victorian England and Victorian fiction. The Secrets of Wishtide does not read like a modern author trying to place the story within the 1850s – it has the tone of a Dickens novel, and the feel of Victorian London – something any good novel that has an historical setting or aspect should strive to do. I was immediately transported to 1850 and the Victorian world. As the first book in a series, it did it’s job wonderfully – introducing the main character, and what she does, who she is and where she lives, as well as setting the scene nicely. I look forward to reading more in this series.