The Duke’s Agent
Wounded in the Peninsular War, army officer Raif Jarrett returns to England in 1811 to recuperate. From his relative the Duke of Penrith, Raif obtains the position of the Duke’s Agent and is sent to the village of Woolbridge in Durham. Raif is tasked with holding an audit on the Duke’s estates in the region after the recent death of his local steward. Raif discovers dilapidated properties and corruption that point to a powerful magistrate. When a village girl is found murdered near Raif’s temporary residence, the magistrate uses his influence to turn all suspicion on the Duke’s Agent. Raif now must clear his name, solve the murder and stop the corruption.
Told in omniscient point of view, the characters are realistic and compelling in their physical descriptions and quirks. Village life is portrayed in all its grit, with local customs and superstitions of the early 19th-century. Raif is an interesting character with secrets of his own, and there’s a hint of romance with a village lady. I highly recommend this novel.