Deadlier than the Pen
The year is 1888. Gossip columnist Diana Spaulding is sent by her paper, the Independent Intelligencer, to get a story on horror novelist Damon Bathory. After a public reading where he sent chills up and down the spines of the audience with his words and seduced the women with his dark good looks, Damon refuses Diana an interview, having taken offense at the scandal-mongering in her column (actually inserted by her editor). So begins mutual dislike at first sight, which, as everyone knows, always masks a growing attraction.
Diana’s meddling editor insists on a story, but the tale she finds is all too disturbing: women journalists have been killed in various cities on Damon’s book tour. Intrepid Diana pursues Damon to his family home in Maine, where she meets his decidedly unusual mother and brother and reconnects with the theatrical troupe to which her late husband belonged. Cue the cliffhanger music: will Diana uncover Damon’s secret, and will the true killer be revealed?
This was a delightful mystery – an unapologetic throwback to the time in which it was set, yet with enough modern sensibilities that reveal the plight of the working woman in the nineteenth century. Although all the elements of clichés fill the book, it manages to remain a fresh, fun read as Emerson brings her characters to life. I look forward to seeing Diana and Damon in another mystery.