Death Among the Ruins
This is the second in the well-acclaimed mystery series set in Regency England. Rather than the demure, husband-desperate young ladies of the usual fare set in this time period, our sleuth is Arabella Beaumont, London’s most sought-after courtesan. On this adventure, a naughty statue from the ruins of Herculaneum Arabella thought she had purchased has gone missing and the purveyor murdered on site. Arabella takes her hangers-on – sister Belinda, ne’er-do-well brother Charles and the love-smitten cleric Mr. Kendrick – to Italy to investigate.
Delightful characters, witty dialogue playing fast and loose with proper lady-speak, amusing descriptions and entertaining names of the comical supporting cast (Lady Ribbonhat, client Sir Birdwood-Fizzer) as well as turning the Regency’s decorous petticoats head over heels had me laughing out loud. Lord Byron makes a timely appearance. I haven’t read the first installment, and there is enough here to keep devotees coming back for more. However, I felt by the end that Arabella had done too little on her own, either by brains or her particular skill set, to solve the mystery. Also, a particularly Emma-Miss Bates-like insensitivity never redeemed – or perhaps we are to wait for redemption in the next installment – broke the spell for me by the final page.