Death Among Rubies

Written by R. J. Koreto
Review by J. Lynn Else

Death Among Rubies is R.J. Koreto’s second novel in the Lady Frances “Franny” Ffolkes historical mystery series. In this story, Franny accompanies her friends, Gwendolyn and Thomasina, to Gwen’s family estate for a quiet weekend working on suffragette projects.  Instead, she finds out that her friends have been threatened, and Gwen’s father has been stabbed to death with a ruby dagger that is rumored to be cursed.  What’s a lady to do?

If you’re looking for a book with a large, diverse cast of women who become wrapped up in solving a murder to save their friend from being wrongfully accused, you will definitely enjoy this book.  If you’re looking for a charming Edwardian-era mystery, you will also enjoy this book. This series has no explicit situations or language – which is very much appreciated.

A few critiques. Early on, it’s obvious who the culprit is, so parts of the investigation feel unnecessary. While there are plenty of antagonists to Franny’s sleuthing, there aren’t many twists and turns to the mystery. Also, some of the sentences could have used more polish. A couple of times, they read like unfinished thoughts, and the next opens with a conjunction. Restructuring certain sentences would have clarified Koreto’s ideas. Conversely, the character dialogue is fantastic. The female leads are simply wonderful.  Who doesn’t love a comeback like this one from Franny: “I am also sorry for losing my temper and calling the inspector an imbecile and coward.  It was rude of me to publicize those facts.”

I enjoyed seeing characters and relationships from the first book develop. I can tell the writer loves this time period, as he handles the era’s mannerisms and conventions masterfully.  All in all, this is a delightful read, though not as strong as the first book (which I loved).