The Widow’s Secret
The secret is revealed to the reader in the opening pages: Bella Wallis, an attractive bisexual widow, is the writer known to the mid-to-late 19th century reading public in Britain as Henry Ellis Margam, author of sensational tales. Bella takes inspiration for her plots from life and uses a fictional veneer to extract a degree of retribution on various malefactors in her successful novels. Following the murder of a London prostitute and with other evidence of his evil deeds, Bella sets her targets on Lord Bolsover. With the assistance of an eclectic band of colleagues, friends and employees, Bella embarks on her latest campaign – but events accelerate quicker than she can control them, and very soon matters are out of hand with a number of victims implicated, both physical and emotional. This is an entertaining, rambunctious story of Victorian urban sleaze, violence and essential human decency. The characters are Dickensian and throb with life, with the author possessing a wonderful ear for dialogue. The plot is a bit sketchy at times and races along perhaps a little too superficially. But this is good and exciting historical fiction.