Author: R. J. Koreto
Series: A Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (June 14, 2016)
Description: An extraordinary woman living in extraordinary times, Lady Frances Ffolkes is an Edwardian-era suffragette who has an uncanny ability to attract danger and romance.
When Major Colcombe, a family friend and war veteran, dies under mysterious circumstances, the good Lady discovers that he was working on a manuscript about South Africa’s bloody Boer War, which reportedly revealed a scandalous mistake that cost many innocent lives. Now, it’s up to Frances and her loyal lady's maid, June Mallow, to track down the missing manuscript and bring the killer to justice. Despite kerfuffles with Scotland Yard and the British Secret Service, Frances never backs down and finds herself in several very unfortunate positions--and one very fortunate love triangle.
Death on the Sapphire is R. J. Koreto's witty and winsome debut of a series that is sure to be fan favorite for years to come.
My Thoughts: This mystery was an excellent introduction to an intrepid heroine and life in 1906 England. Lady Frances Ffolkes is the daughter and sister of a Marquess. However, she doesn't fit very well into the society lady mold. She was sent to America to attend Vassar. Now back home in London, she is living in an exclusive lady's hotel being served by her loyal mail June Mallow. She fills her days with committee meetings and charitable activities. She is a suffragette.
When the sister of a family friend - Major Daniel Colcombe - comes to beg assistance in locating her late brother's manuscript, Franny finds herself in an investigation that has many implications. She learns more about Danny's role in the Boer War and the contents of his missing manuscript.
She also encounters others who want the manuscript for various reasons. Both the Special Branch and the Secret Service are interested in locating it. So are others with different political agendas. Franny's investigations wind their way through the upper classes of Britain.
Franny also is being courted by two very different men. Lord Gareth Blaine is exciting and runs with the fast crowd. Henry Wheaton is the family solicitor and a very successful lawyer. Franny isn't interested in marriage yet which she views as putting an end to her work as a suffragette.
I liked the setting of this mystery. England in 1906 was going through many social changes. Lady Frances is a intriguing combination of the old views of class and privilege and the new more modern equality. She expects that her name and family connections will give her priority with the police who should be delighted to serve her. At the same time, she sees what it is like for the poor when she spends her evenings working in a soup kitchen. Her relationship with her maid also reflects this conflict. June is proud to serve in an upper class family. She delights in her position. She is quick to defend her mistress from those who are too familiar. But Lady Frances and June are also forming a friendship and a partnership in the mystery.
Fans of female amateur detectives and fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this one. I look forward to further adventures for Lady Frances.
Charles told his sister to be good as she took her leave, and she found herself lost in thought about tight-lipped police officers, secret service agents operating in the dark, and soldiers killing and dying in the African heat.I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.