Though This Be Madness: Lilly Long Mysteries
The second installment in Richards’ series takes novice Pinkerton detective Lilly Long into the heart of 1880s New Orleans. Along with her is Cade McShane, a veteran with the Pinkertons whose past has forced him to have to make amends with the agency. His penance? To once again shadow Lilly on this assignment.
The duo is tasked with discovering whether a doctor has married into a wealthy New Orleans family for money or love. After having his wife committed to an asylum, it seems that the doctor has his eyes set not on his wife’s recovery, but access to the family’s fortune. Lilly and Cade, along with a 10-year-old boy Cade knows, pose as married housekeepers to gain entrance to the household and the secrets that lie within. Tension rises both from the case and between Cade and Lily as they are both drawn toward one another while their own emotional baggage pushes them apart.
Penny Richards is known for her romance novels, and with this second Lilly mystery the romance aspect tends to dominate. The interplay between Lilly and Cade, their inward growing affection toward one another and then their outward antagonism, is on full display throughout. The mystery itself is easy to unravel early on, and really comes to a discovery and resolution in the last few chapters. This is unfortunate, since Lilly was such a dynamic detective in book one, and here she is relegated to the role of a typical romantic heroine. However, Lilly still must depend upon her cunning and former acting skills to solve the case, and a subplot that uncovers voodoo and murder is interesting. In all, a quick and fun read.