Monday, March 12, 2012

The Deadly Portent-Elizabeth Bailey

The Deadly Portent

Elizabeth Bailey

Berkley, Apr 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245675

To escape family, Lady Ottilia “Lady Fan” Fanshawe forces her husband Francis to leave just after a heavy rain. The soaked grounds leads to the axle on their coach breaking near the village of Witherley. The couple learns the blacksmith Diggleby is dead from a roof cave-in either caused by the storm or by the witch. Most villagers blame Mrs. Cassie Dale who predicted the collapse and death and the lads stoned her before she obtained sanctuary granted by the new vicar Reverend Aiden Kennerton.

While waiting for the repair, Tillie and Francis investigate. They quickly find evidence that the beams inside the forge were tampered with and the universally hated victim was killed before the roof collapsed. As Tillie digs deeper, she seeks the person with a grudge so powerful he or she killed Diggleby and has the perfect individual in the odd Cassie to take the fall.

This is an entertaining historical amateur sleuth as the protagonists are an engaging couple. The whodunit is clever with time running out for Cassie as the villagers want her burned as a witch though she has strong defenders in the vicar and the stranded traveling aristocrats. Readers will enjoy Lady Fan’s latest detecting (see The Gilded Shroud) as The Deathly Portent is an enjoyable nineteenth century mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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