No Mortal Reason
After reuniting with her estranged mother in Fatal as a Fallen Woman, reporter Diana Spaulding is determined to meet the rest of her mother’s family. She enlists her fiancé, Dr. Ben Northcote, in her plan to meet her relatives before revealing her own identity. To that end, they check into her uncle’s hotel-cum-spa, which aims to be the next Saratoga Springs. Pretending to be already married becomes the least of their problems when the remains of her Uncle Howd’s secret girlfriend are discovered.
As the year is 1888, the spa is more primitive than upscale, a lady reporter is viewed with suspicion, and an unmarried couple sharing a room is a definite no-no. Ben, although more respectful of Diana than other 19th-century men may have been, still finds himself wanting to shield her from harm, which causes her to bristle in response and go off on her own, subsequently putting herself in danger. This outing is almost too plot-heavy—the dead girl’s mother is deeply religious; Uncle Myron, who owns the hotel, has questionable business partners; and Diana’s editor hands her the unrelated assignment of interviewing a captured murderer in a nearby town. All these elements coexist rather uneasily, and this third book in the series does not have the “I have to read it in one sitting” feeling that the first two had. Still, I’ll be there for Diana and Ben’s wedding.