Death at the Emerald

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

In Edwardian-era London, Lady Frances Ffolkes’s reputation as an amateur detective precedes her when she is commissioned by a wealthy widower to find the widow’s missing daughter, Louisa, who disappeared over 30 years ago after running away from home. Louisa ran to join a theater, so Frances decides to start her investigation there. While no one at the theater remembers a Louisa, Lady Frances learns about a beautiful actress named Helen who attracted multiple suitors. She too disappeared 30 years earlier. That evening, word reaches Lady Frances that one of Helen’s former suitors has been murdered. Shortly thereafter, Lady Frances finds herself being shadowed by a man who appears to be another of Helen’s former suitors. With the help of her stalwart maid, June Mallow, Lady Frances will cross paths with playwright George Bernard Shaw, King Edward VII, film directors, actors and actresses, and Scotland Yard inspectors in her search for answers. In a time where manners and etiquette rule, can a single lady and her maid overcome gender and class constraints in order to uncover a murderer and locate a missing person?

J. Koreto sets the stage with flawless historical detail and character mannerisms. His third Lady Frances Ffolkes story develops the characters and their relationships more fully while also exploring a dual mystery: a murder and a disappearance. The plot unravels at a steady pace and keeps readers engaged. Like the second Lady Frances novel, Death Among Rubies, the culprit isn’t hard to figure out, but the way Koreto reveals everything is done in a dramatically entertaining way. Lady Frances has wit that goes on for days, and her intrepid personality coupled with a delicious historical ambience makes this read a delight.