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Monday, September 26, 2022

Review - A Fiances Guide to First Wives and Murder

 This is one of my favorite historical cozy mystery series.  The specific sub-genre is chock full of many good series, but this series is delightful and I'm a fan.  Check out what has won me over.

Previous reviews:

1) A Lady's Guide to Ettiquette and Murder 

3) the Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder 

Author: Dianne Freeman

Copyright: July 2011 (Kensington Books) 306 pgs

Series: 4th in Countess of Harleigh Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical cozy mystery, amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh

Setting: Victorian era, London and countryside, England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "For Frances Wynn, widow to the late Earl of Harleigh, life has a cosmopolitan flavor of late. No sooner has she sent her mother and daughter off on a shopping trip to Paris than she and her fiancĂ©, George Hazelton, are socializing with visiting members of the Russian royal family. Amid this whirlwind, scandal also comes calling when Inspector Delaney turns up outside Frances’s house with a young French woman with a shocking claim: she is Mrs. George Hazelton.

 As the future Mrs. George Hazelton, Frances assumes the woman is either lying or demented. “Mrs. Hazelton,” aka Irena, makes other outrageous statements. Among them, she insists that she is the illegitimate daughter of Russian royalty, that she has been abducted many times, and that someone is sending her threatening letters. When George arrives, he clarifies that he is certainly not married to Irena—though he can confirm her royal parentage. But even as he agrees to investigate whether Irena’s life is in danger, her claim proves tragically true. Irena is found strangled in Frances’s garden.

 To uncover a killer—and clear their own names—Frances and George must determine which of Irena’s outlandish stories were based in fact. And as the search reaches a shocking conclusion, they may find that villainy lurks all too close to home . . ." 

My Thoughts:

Frances Wynn, one of my favorite heroines, loved her husband and has grieved his death. So many historical mysteries have the deceased husband as unpleasant and the woman is relieved, so this is a pleasant change.  She is newly engaged to George Hazelton who had become her best friend over the previous books, and was a good friend of her late husband. They both are tested by the surprise woman claiming to be George's wife, but also by societal norms around the situation.  

The setting of Victorian England is always well portrayed and creates an immersive backdrop.  The plot has several twists and turns along the way. The climax had some tense moments and was well done.  This is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery that fully incorporates the era and finely realized characters.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Here is an interview with the author.

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