Description: Mary MacDougall's first case of 1902 seems simple enough. Just before the 19-year-old heiress leaves for a summer holiday on Mackinac Island with her Aunt Christena, she's hired to stop in a little town along the way and make inquiries. Did Agnes Olcott really die there of cholera? Or were there darker doings in Dillmont? Mary's mentor, Detective Sauer, thinks it's merely a case of bad luck for the dead woman. But Mrs. Olcott's daughter suspects her detested stepfather played a hand in her mother's untimely death. With the reluctant help of her aunt and her dear friend Edmond Roy, the young detective struggles to reveal the true fate of Agnes Olcott. As she digs ever deeper, the enemy Mary provokes could spell disaster for her and the people she loves. But in the end, it's the only way to banish a daughter's doubt. (from Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: To be honest, the cover was what really caught my eye. I just thought it was so pretty. And then when I discovered this was a historical mystery I couldn't resist.
My Impression: It's been awhile since I've read a historical mystery and so I was thrilled to start this one. The setting and the time period were fairly new to me as well which made it extra fun. Right from the start I liked Mary. She's the daughter of a millionaire and she doesn't try to hide it or is ashamed of it but she also doesn't brag about it. She's very realistic for the time period. She knows what society and her family expect from her and she's trying to reconcile that with what she actually wants to do. It always drives me a bit crazy, particularly in historicals, when you have a character that is brashly defying her family, society, or both and it doesn't seem to bother her at all. I just don't think it's that easy and you see some of the struggle with Mary. While Mary is very intelligent and has a great deal of common sense when it comes to her chosen profession I had no trouble believing that she was 19 when it came to her personal life. She wasn't whiny or angsty about it but there were the worries and insecurities and uncertainties that do tend to plague romantic relationships - especially at that age. I also really enjoyed the supporting characters. Aunt Christena was so interesting and I'd definitely like to see more of her and I really loved Edmond and Paul.
The setting was interesting on this one. While I didn't get a tremendous sense of place because Mary spends quite a bit of time running back and forth I did get a sense of time. They talk a lot about women's rights and just the place of women in society and business. This isn't done in a lecturing way at all but more in a discussion as it pertains to the case. There were a few things that were frankly horrifying and I found hard to believe even though I know they were true. I did enjoy the scenes of Mackinac Island and want to find out some more details about The Grand Hotel or it's IRL counterpart.
The mystery itself was interesting and fast paced. I wasn't sure what was going to happen until it was revealed and when the solution was revealed I wasn't quite sure how Mary was going to get everything worked out. I really liked that there were consequences to the rather dramatic end. While not devastating Mary and her team don't skate through everything with no troubles. This was the 3rd book in the series but I had no problem jumping in, understanding what was going on and figuring out who the characters were. The writing felt a little rushed but it didn't read like a deposition (she did this, he said this, then they walked over there, etc) and while it may not have kept me up super late I did want to keep reading. The teaser at the end for the next book has me madly curious and I've already added it to my TBR! I'm looking forward to getting to know Mary better.
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Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely! I'd like to go back and read the first 2 and I'm super curious about #4.
Would I Recommend this Book?: I would. If you're a cozy mystery reader I think this was really interesting and the time period made it unique.