R.J. Koreto’s first book, Death on the Sapphire, established a dangerous precedent. It was SO enjoyable, it prompted one to wonder–would he be able to maintain that level of excellence in future books? I am more than delighted to say YES!!! He could and did with Death Among Rubies, a new mystery featuring the independent, intrepid and intelligent Lady Frances Ffolkes, and her trusty (also intelligent!) maid, June Mallow.
One could almost believe the author lived during those early years of the twentieth Century, so real is his interpretation of it. There were very few women of the Lady Frances type in these years, but she is very real in these books. Lady Franny is concerned with people, – not their rank in Society – which brings her into contact with a wider variety of the citizenry of London than most people could even imagine. Among her close friends are Gwendolyn Kestrel, daughter of a distinguished and wealthy family and Thomasina (Tommie) Calvin, of more ordinary status.
Gwen is to return to her home, Kestrel’s Eyrie, at her father’s invitation, for he is hosting a delegation of international diplomats, and wishes her presence. Also among the guests will be her cousin, Christopher Blake, with whom she has long been linked–with a marriage expected sooner or later. It is a very mixed group of guest: there are the foreign diplomats, plus a father and daughter from America, as well as other local persons.
Unfortunately, before Gwen’s arrival, her father is found in his study, stabbed with a treasured dagger, handsomely studded with rubies. His long-time confidante, (some said lover, as well) Mrs. Blake (Christopher’s mother) quietly assumes control of the situation. She has been acting as sort of house-keeper since the death of Gwen’s mother, and following the death of her own husband. She is most displeased by the presence of Tommie, and determines to separate the two young women.
However, she’s reckoned without the special skills of Lady Franny, not to mention those of Mallow, as different as they are. Through persistence, and in spite of the deaths of two other women in the area, Franny sorts through the false leads and red herrings thrown in her path, and eventually solves the puzzle. In the process, she sets up a happier match between the American heiress Effie Hardiman and Christopher Blake, and furthers her own cause with her attorney beau, Hal Wheaton.
Devoted readers of this series can only hope for more adventures of Lady Franny and Mallow in the near future. Please, sir?
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Crooked Lane Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.