The Secrets of Wishtide

Written by Kate Saunders
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

Set in 1850 England, this complex Victorian murder mystery has a feel of Charles Dickens. The author explains in an afterword that she was inspired to write this story by her issues with David Copperfield. Sleuth Laetitia Rodd, the 52-year-old widow of an archdeacon, makes her living as a private investigator. She works for her brother, Frederick Tyson, a criminal barrister. When he asks her to investigate a case involving an inappropriate love affair and the son of a wealthy house, she goes undercover as a Lincolnshire governess. The intricate plot will keep readers guessing, as old stories are unearthed, new characters appear, and death strikes more than once. Laetitia and Frederick join forces with an annoying police inspector she calls “Blackbeard,” and together they struggle to unravel the secrets of the Calderstone family at the great castle of Wishtide.

Laetitia lives in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Bentley. This character is based on the real person who rented her charming house to John Keats earlier in the century. This home is one of the coziest settings in a suspense novel since Miss Marple moved to St. Mary Mead. Readers will enjoy the basement kitchen, where the heroine drinks hot brandy and water while recuperating from all the derring-do.