Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Lady of the Wye is a cozy murder mystery written by Frances Powell. Chief Inspector Cameron Fergus and his wife, Helen, were enjoying a summer’s afternoon picnic on the banks of the River Wye, when their tranquility was shattered by the startling vision before them. The body of a young woman, dressed in a flowing white gown, floated past them, stunning the two of them and galvanizing Cameron into action. Helen had seen her first and had numbly pointed her out, unable to even speak at first. Cameron rushed to the riverbank and waded in after the body, snagging it before it drifted out of reach. Cameron and his team began combing the area for clues in their attempt to piece together the events that led to the young woman’s death and appearance in the river. The flow of the river suggested that the body could have come from the vicinity of the Wilton Castle ruins upstream. The residents of the manor house there were more than willing to help CI Cameron Fergus as he sought to identify the victim, ascertain the cause of her death and apprehend the guilty parties, but a second death, this time of the most likely suspect, put an entirely different spin on the case.
Frances Powell’s cozy murder mystery novel, Lady of the Wye, is a beguiling blend of cozy mystery, police procedural and British literary tradition as Chief Inspector Cameron Fergus and his team work to solve the mystery of the floating lady. When I first began reading this enjoyable mystery novel, visions of Tennyson’s Lady of Shallot were a tantalizing set of images as Helen and Cameron’s idyllic afternoon’s picnic is shattered by the young woman’s appearance in the water. I especially enjoyed the method Powell uses to introduce her Chief Inspector by going into his past after he left his home in Scotland as a young man and arrived in London for his police training. Showing Cameron and Helen’s first meeting and early courtship brought dimension to her characters and really got me involved in their relationship, and how smoothly they worked together while he was on a case. I have a particular fondness for the police procedural genre and enjoyed watching how Fergus, the medical examiner, and the other police professionals work together to solve the case. Powell gives the reader a number of red herrings to mull over along the way, and the resolution of the case was clever and unexpected. Lady of the Wye is most highly recommended.