Death on the Sapphire: A Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery

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

Lady Frances Ffolkes is an extremely busy woman. Along with chairing the Women’s Political Equality movement, meetings with the Ladies’ Educational Improvement Club, volunteering at the soup kitchen, and managing her own finances while living independently in Edwardian-era London (specifically 1906), she also finds herself hunting for a lost manuscript. After her friend, Major Daniel Colcombe, dies under mysterious circumstances, his war manuscript, a record of his activities during South Africa’s bloody Boer War, goes missing. Lady Frances quickly discovers that it may contain scandalous secrets, and that her friend’s death may not have been an accident. With the help of her loyal maid, June Mallow, Lady Frances goes toe-to-toe with Scotland Yard, the British Secret Service, and greedy politicians in a quest to recover her friend’s stolen war memoir. But there are men following close on Lady Frances’s heels who would do anything to keep the truth about what happened on South Africa’s Sapphire River a secret.

The characters and setting of this book breathe so deeply that readers are easily drawn into the story. The dialogue and character mannerisms build up the novel’s authenticity in an enchanting way. Lady Frances is a thoughtful, witty, and mature woman. While she may be the daughter of a marquess, she works hard and approaches each challenge with sensibility and courage. She’s often undervalued and underestimated for being “just a woman,” but Lady Frances rises to the occasion each time – and I loved every minute. The author never rushes, so plot and character development are things to savor, and leading ladies like Frances are marvelous to read about.

With a memorable heroine, rich atmosphere, and intriguing mystery, Koreto has created a book that will engage and entertain readers. I eagerly await book 2. Highly recommended!