Bellfield Hall first came to my attention through a post by Eva, and now that Summer is in full swing a cozy Georgian mystery felt just the thing.
It’s a locked-room mystery (or in this case a locked-country house), set during a hunting party in the English countryside. The “detectiving” is done by the most inconspicuous of guests, Miss Dido Kent, the spinster aunt of the fiancée of Bellfield Hall’s heir.
Dido knows it’s often useful to be underestimated and she puts this to good use when several mysterious events threaten her niece’s happiness, not the least of them the discovery of an unknown young women’s body on the Hall’s grounds.
The plot is all coziness, but the language feels right for the period and Dido’s sharp intelligence and ironic sense of humor brings in a welcome zest and saves her from Mary Sueness.
Bellfield Hall’s target audience is clearly all the Jane Austen fans out there. It’s unavoidable to make connections, but the ones I made were less with her books and more with Austen’s own life: Dido’s close relationship with another single sister, a handicapped brother who’s raised away from the family, other who’s in the Navy, etc.
I’d also like to thank Anna Dean for producing a mystery that the reader, if observant enough, can solve. I love when this happens and feel incredibly cheated if at the end the detective presents a clue he/she got off-line. I appreciate the challenge of creating a transparent story and at the same time guaranteeing a progressive unraveling and a conclusion that’s not given away too soon.
A book to carry around next to your beach or picnic towel.