Lady Helena is mourning the death of her dear husband, Sir Justin Whitcombe. It has been just more than a week since she started embracing widowhood when her brother Michael, spoke to her about the possibility of her remarrying. He also points out that, as the ‘man of the house’, Lady Helena must let Michael manage her property, after all, womenfolk are too delicate to do anything.
Lady Helena receives a visitor – Doctor Armand Fostier, her late husband’s physician. When Justin’s lifeless body was found floating in the river. Dr. Fostier was called for help. Dr. Fostier mentions to Lady Helena that her husband’s death might have been a murder. Shocked and confused, Lady Helena decides to investigate.
Tongues wag as the rumor spreads in the village about Dr. Fostier’s acquaintance with Lady Helena. Lady Helena is warned by her family about pursuing things ahead with the doctor, after all, Dr.Fostier is French and Frenchmen are known to be untrustworthy.
Susan Hatherall is the daughter of Lady Helena’s tenant and farmer, Lucius Hatherall. Hatherall and Justin were close, and the old farmer looked after the sheep. Lady Helena has always despised Susan. Susan was Countess Broadmere’s (Lady Helena’s mother) apple of the eye. Susan knew how to manipulate people and get things done.
After the death of her father, Count Broadmere, the Dowager Countess’ health deteriorated. Susan was working as the Dowager Countess’s help until one fine day when the countess lost her temper and Susan was at the receiving end of it.
After the death of Justin, Lady Helena learns of Susan’s pregnancy. An unwed mother is never welcomed in the society. Helena decides to take Susan to Whitcombe and plans to look after her and her child.
Before the death of Daniel, Lady Helena’s first love, and fiance, Helena’s interest lay in herbs. She and her mama concocted various potions and tisanes. Helena decides to fill the void created by Justin’s death by starting her own herb garden. Since Susan is much more knowledgeable than her in herbs, she plans to take her help.
Things go bad when Susan falls terribly ill and farmer Hatherall is found dead in his house.
Set in the 19th century, the story is charming! There is something about the British style of writing that I simply adore. Be it the extensive use of vocabulary or the descriptions or the location, it is all so fairy-tale like.
There are many characters in the book – Lady Helena has six siblings and each one of them plays a significant role in Helena’s life. From the weirdo twin sisters to the dyslexic brother to the loving sister, the characters are strongly described. And not to forget, The Lady’s maid, Gutteridge and The Lady’s dog, Scotty play an important role too.
Since the story is set in the mid-1800’s, certain customs that a Lady, especially a widow, had to follow are mentioned. They include the long periods of mourning, and her family coercing her to remarry as soon as possible and since Lady Helena and Justin had no children, there is also a mention or two about Lady Helena being “Barren”.
Although the book starts on a slow and boring note, the story takes a turn in the second half. The first half of the book concentrates on the widow reminiscing about Justin and her family almost forcing her to remarry and what not! Then there is the handsome Dr. Fortier, whose acquaintance with Lady Helena is gossiped about.
The story is not your usual fast-paced crime story. There is no gore or violent descriptions in the book. My most favorite part of the book has to be the one where Lady Helena learns about her parent’s blissful marriage. And my least favorite part of the book is the one where Lady Helena’s family always talks to her about remarriage and her being barren and her ‘affair’ with Dr. Fostier. (It just gets on your nerves when it is being mentioned again and again!)
Except for the above mentioned least favorite part of the book, it is a pretty good read. If you like slow stories set in the 19th century, or, if you like British mysteries, then you will love this book.
My Rating: 4/5
Title: Lady Helena Investigates (Scott-De Quincy Mysteries #1)
Author: Jane Steen
Published on: 14th March 2018
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
Featured Image Credits: Goodreads.com