Death of an Unsung Hero

Written by Tessa Arlen
Review by Valerie Adolph

This newest addition to the Lady Montfort mystery series is set in 1916 during the darkest days of WWI. The Montfort family has allowed their late mother’s house in southern England to be used as a hospital for officers suffering from what was then called “shell shock,” now known as PTSD, a condition then not well understood and assumed to be a sign of cowardice.

Within the hospital, Lady Clementine Montfort and her one-time housekeeper Mrs. Jackson, who is now quartermaster of the hospital, investigate the murder of one of their patients, Captain Bray. The dead man is indeed a hero, not only in battle but in rescuing his injured comrades afterwards. Emotionally and mentally it has cost him dearly, and he is slowly and painfully recovering his memory. The motivation to find his killer is very strong. Mrs. Jackson and Lady Montfort’s family are determined to learn the truth despite the bungling of the unsavory Inspector Savory of the local police.

The author introduces us to a world of highly entertaining characters, from the irascible neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham to the flirtatious volunteer nurses to the sensitively portrayed patients struggling to recover from their devastating battle experiences. We are shown the disrupted world of wartime England, its beauty intact but undergoing rapid changes. We see the social system torn apart, with young people welcoming change and older people clinging to past values. Despite the author’s clear-eyed accuracy, this is a highly entertaining read. The occasional inner monologue is a highlight—deliciously apt and irreverent. The book is a delightful romp through a world of vividly eccentric characters in a beautifully described setting. It was pure pleasure to read, and it packed a punch. Recommended.