A Family Affair

Written by Caro Peacock
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

Liberty Lane, the heroine of Peacock’s A Foreign Affair (UK title Death at Dawn) and A Dangerous Affair (Death of a Dancer) is back with a new mystery to solve.

The elderly Lord Brinkburn has been in an asylum for the mentally insane for several years and is now near death. His elder son, Stephen, would inherit the family title and great wealth, but a rumor is going around London society that Stephen is not legitimate and that younger brother Miles must inherit. Strangely, the rumor seems to have been started by the boys’ mother, Lady Brinkburn.

In an effort to quietly and without scandal discover the truth, sometimes sleuth Liberty Lane is hired by the Brinkburn family lawyer. Liberty is able to befriend one son, gain the confidence of the lady, and be on hand when a family servant is found murdered. More complications are introduced when Stephen goes missing, and, a little later, so does Liberty’s new maid, Tabby. The novel is filled with a host of likable and unlikable characters, none of whom the reader can wholly trust.

Peacock’s London is a mixture of stable dust, apricot silk gowns, and a bit of mutton; her subtle use of Victorian minutiae brings to life the setting, while keeping the focus of the story on the Brinkburn family secrets and the escapades of Liberty Lane. Liberty is a clever and independent detective, and A Family Affair is a fun and entertaining mystery novel.