2016 Reviews · crime · historical fiction · mystery

Book Review: The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

secrets of wishtide

Book blurb:

Mrs Laetitia Rodd is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon, living modestly in Hampstead with her landlady Mrs Bentley. She is also a private detective of the utmost discretion. In winter 1850, her brother Frederick, a criminal barrister, introduces her to Sir James Calderstone, a wealthy and powerful industrialist who asks Mrs Rodd to investigate the background of an ‘unsuitable’ woman his son intends to marry – a match he is determined to prevent.

In the guise of governess, she travels to the family seat, Wishtide, deep in the frozen Lincolnshire countryside, where she soon discovers that the Calderstones have more to hide than most. As their secrets unfold, the case takes an unpleasant turn when a man is found dead outside a tavern. Mrs Rodd’s keen eyes and astute wits are taxed as never before in her search for the truth – which carries her from elite drawing rooms to London’s notorious inns and its steaming laundry houses.

Dickensian in its scope and characters, The Secrets of Wishtide brings nineteenth century society vividly to life and illuminates the effect of Victorian morality on women’s lives. Introducing an irresistible new detective, the first book in the Laetitia Rodd Mystery series will enthral and delight.

4 stars

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders is the first book of in a new series of six detective novels, featuring amateur sleuth Laetitia Rodd. This is a novel that easily reminds of a traditional English mystery novel, along the same lines as Agatha Christie.

The Secrets of Wishtide introduces the reader to a middle aged widow of an archdeacon, Laetitia Rodd. A significant shift in circumstances has lead to Laetitia having to find her own means to survive on a day to day basis. Laetitia decides to put her wit and keen eye for detail to use, when she becomes a private investigator to her barrister brother. The Secrets of Wishtide first sees Laetitia look into a complicated family matter for her brother and secrets are gradually revealed by Laetitia’s investigations. The addition of murder after murder, adds to the drama and intrigue of the novel. Laetitia gets swept up into solving the events, using her unique charm and sense of adventure.

British author Kate Saunders writes with conviction and a clear understanding of the era in which she is depicting – Victorian England. The dialogue between the characters featured in The Secrets of Wishtide was reflective of the time period, which was a joy to read.  The banter that occurs between Laetitia, the main character and the fellow characters she interacts with, such as her landlord Mrs Bentley and fellow detective Mr Blackbeard, was humorous. It was obvious the author had fun writing the novel and creating the characters that fill the pages of the book. The beginning mystery was enough to keep me entertained and interested in how events in the novel would transpire. Saunders adds further subplots to mix surrounding more murders, which encouraged me to follow on with the novel to the end. My final word and positive note on The Secrets of Wishtide was the author’s device of using the main character Laetitia Rodd. It was simply refreshing to see to see a heroine cast who is a middle aged widow, trying the get by on her own means and solving some great mysteries along the way!

If you enjoy being immersed in settings from the past, look no further than The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders.  This fine sense of period atmosphere, combined with an appealing heroine, along with themes of murder, family secrets and good old fashioned detective work, makes this book the perfect cosy weekend read.

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders was published in 2016 by Bloomsbury http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-secrets-of-wishtide-9781408866887/

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