Another book that I have no idea how I heard about it. As I have mentioned in previous book posts I read many book blogs, newsletters, newspaper reviews and on and on and I put upcoming releases on my to be read list. Death On The Sapphire is one of those books and it has been sitting on my TBR list for awhile. It is R.J. Koreto first novel and the first in a series, the second has just been published, I’ll review that at a later date.
As you also know, I really hate pigeonholing books, especially when they are called “cozy mysteries”…I am sure some would put Agatha Christie in that category, pity that! This mystery is a lovely read with quite a few twists and turns…not a blood and thunder novel. I don’t really enjoy those too much, I like a bit of suspense, a little romance, a well written story with an intelligent protagonist and one that keeps my interest to the end. This one met all those requirements.
The heroine, if you will, is Lady Frances Ffolkes, who is very much an independent young lady living in the changing world of Edwardian England. Raised to have a mind of her own, to a degree, and to that end she lives in a very upscale “boarding house” with her Lady’s Maid….things must be proper, we are talking about polite society, after all. She is educated, at Vassar no less (also the University of the author, who, by the way is male, I don’t even know why I say that other than his handling of our young Lady and her Ladies Maid, June Mallow, is quite tender and wonderful) and due to her position in society has access to places that a lower class woman of the time wouldn’t have. It is the beginning of the the suffragist movement and the story tells that piece of history as well as the main story of a manuscript that has gone missing and is reported to contain details of a battle gone wrong costing many lives in the South Africa’s bloody Boer War. What the details are can be damaging and embarrassing to the Establishment (my opinion, that this is being investigated by a young woman is salt in the wound!) and Scotland Yard (doesn’t it always) becomes involved along with the their Special Branch and the British Secret Service. Love enters the picture with two gentlemen who may not be all they appear to be. Lady Frances, Frannie, finds herself being followed, ends up in unusual neighborhoods…let’s just say where Ladies of her station should not be seen…following clues to the missing manuscript and to two murders. I particularly loved the way her maid, Mallow, maintains the standards of how her Ladyship should behave and most of all how she should dress and coif her hair…it is delightful. June is very much a part of the story and involves just as much as her mistress, I might say, even more.
I found that women being taken seriously has evolved, but has it really!!!! Yes, we have the vote in the States, in the UK and many other nations but most certainly not all over the world…we basically can be whatever we want to be, in any profession we choose. But what about equality..what about no more sexual harassment, equal pay…my the list does go on. However, when we examine how things were a hundred years I believe we must say we have come a long way but have a long way to go. I personally have never felt inferior to anyone nor have been put in a compromising situation but the headlines say I am in the minority and that makes me very sad. We still have so much to accomplish and events like the Women’s March, I hope, will help change the status quo! Enough of the soapbox…which is what the early suffragists actually stood upon to make their voices heard…let’s continue their journey until everything, in every way, is equal everywhere.
You do know I love a good historical mystery and this is one I highly recommend. If you loved Downton Abbey, like Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries, Victoria Thompson’s and Carola Dunn’s books then you will be thoroughly engaged with this beginning of a new series.
The next volume is out now, I would suggest you read Death on the Sapphire first. Koreto has also written a series of Alice Roosevelt mysteries…need to get those as well, I am!