The Vanished Bride (A Brontë Sisters Mystery)
In 1845, a woman goes missing under mysterious circumstances in a nearby village when the surviving Brontë children—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—are all at home at the Haworth Parsonage, under the auspicious and protective eye of their father. As it quickly becomes apparent that the police are doing little to find the missing woman, perhaps due to the husband’s influence, Charlotte, who knows the governess at the house in question, suggests she and her sisters become ‘lady detectors’ and solve the mystery. There’s a blood-soaked bed, a violent husband, a governess and a housekeeper, gypsies in the woods: all with secrets to keep. Nothing is as it seems as the Brontës venture down a path of intrigue and danger, their detecting taking them through some unsavoury twists and turns as they become determined to uncover the truth.
As accomplished as this debut mystery is (and there’s no doubt it is!), what really deserves the credit is the author’s grasp of the sisters’ talents and intellects, and how she breathes life into these remarkable women, intermingling their different characters to bring in new theories as they follow the clues. The main protagonists need no introduction, as they are as familiar to literature as ducks are to water: Charlotte, deeply connected to her intellect, dependable and strong despite her diminutive size; Emily, wild and impetuous with few social skills, who follows no one’s path but her own; Anne, cautious, with an innate sense of correctness, but quietly rebellious in her own way. The author’s love for her Brontë heroines bursts from every phrase, and I assume her nom-de-plume is a tribute to Emily, who initially published as Ellis Bell. This is destined to be a very successful new mystery series, and I look forward with interest to number two.