Still Life With Murder
Nell Sweeney becomes governess to a Boston Brahmin family early in this mystery, which is set several years after the end of the U. S. Civil War. The eldest son of the family for whom she works has been accused of murder. William was listed as a casualty of the infamous Andersonville prison camp for Union prisoners of war, so the news comes as twice the shock to his parents. William was a noted surgeon during the war but now seems to be an opium addict. His mother asks Nell to investigate, as William refuses to defend himself or even respond to the charges. While I found it extremely hard to accept the circumstances that the author uses to justify Nell’s being given a personalized tour of the crime scene and access to witness interviews (even being allowed to ask her own questions), the engaging characters, the clever plotting, and the Boston milieu soon caught my complete attention. Nell’s background is not that of a typical governess of the period, which helps her to face the unpleasant situations she encounters during her sleuthing. P. B. Ryan, better known as the very talented romance author Patricia Ryan, is off to a very good start with this new historical mystery series.