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Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
Blamed and acquitted of murdering his brother, Alec Halsey has spent the past seven months on his Kent estate away from London society gossips. When he is finally enticed from his seclusion to attend a friend’s dinner party, the man sitting next to him drops dead. Did the poor vicar suffer a heart attack or was he murdered? Who would want to kill a harmless man of God? Why was he at the dinner party in the first place? Who at the dinner party knew the Reverend Blackwell, least of all want him dead? When surprising facts about the dead vicar’s past become known, Alec believes Blackwell may have been murdered and he sets out to investigate.
I kept trying to guess the identity of the killer throughout this book. There are quite a few suspects with compelling motives, but the author included so many twists and turns that I never successfully figured it out on my own. Alec is a fascinating and very handsome amateur sleuth; what woman wouldn't want to meet a man like Alec? The secondary characters are equally well developed. Alec’s testy but loveable old uncle Plantagenet Halsey has his own personal axes to grind. Alec’s valet turned apothecary Tam Fisher is doing his best to keep both his job as valet and pass his exams, and not doing a good job at either. Then there is Selina Jamison-Lewis, the love of Alec’s life who has deep secrets of her own which she is loath to reveal to Alec for fear of losing his love. Although this book is the second in the Alec Halsey series, the author, Lucinda Brant, included enough information to allow this book to stand alone. I plan to read the first book for my own reading pleasure.
Lucinda Brant is the queen of Georgian Historical Mystery just as Georgette Heyer was the queen of Regency Romance. What these two authors have in common, besides being superb writers, is their ability to weave historical information into the plot so that the reader is transported effortlessly to another time and place. Lucinda Brant did this exceedingly well. The descriptions are so vivid that I felt as if I were there, experiencing the sights and sounds of Georgian London. In my mind’s eye I could see the ladies in their corseted finery and the gentlemen in their wigs with tight curls, silk stockings and buckled shoes as they whispered the latest gossip to each other behind fluttering fans and quizzing glasses. Lucinda Brant gets 5 stars from me, and I can't wait to read the other books in the Alec Halsey series!