Death at the Emerald (Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery #3) by R.J. Koreto (Amazon Link)
Rating: Very Good
Description: An elderly family friend commissions Frances to find Helen, a stunningly beautiful actress who vanished 30 years ago. Taking on the role of the Lady Sherlock, with her loyal maid Mallow drafted as her Watson, Frances immerses herself in the glamorous world of Edwardian theater and London's latest craze—motion pictures.
Frances' first stop is the venerable Emerald Theatre, where aging actors are still in love with the memory of the beguiling Helen. It seems like a dead end—but one of Helen's old suitors is suddenly murdered. Frances and Mallow beat both the police and killer to a box of subtle clues. However, a stalker, another old suitor of Helen's long presumed dead, threatens them. Will Frances' latest hobby, a study of Japanese martial arts, be enough to save them?
Undaunted, Frances and Mallow follow their leads, and along the way get some advice from George Bernard Shaw, star in a motion picture, and joke with King Edward VII. Clues eventually lead them to a forgotten grave outside of London, which contains a mysterious biblical inscription--and a shocking secret. Frances finally assembles the pieces, and with Mallow as stage manager, produces her own play to uncover a decades-old conspiracy, reveal a killer—and find the remarkable Helen.
Genre: Mystery Historical
Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoy historical mysteries and can never resist a missing persons case - especially not one 30 years old.
My Impression: I have had quite the winning streak lately with mysteries and I am pleased to report that this latest read kept that streak firmly alive. While I love a historical mystery they can at times be a little dry and a little slow. This was neither. I was immediately pulled into Lady Frances' world and couldn't wait to find out just what had happened to Helen all those years ago.
Lady Frances is an interesting detective. She is very much of the aristocracy and has no qualms about using her status and connections to help her case. She is very much aware that her behavior is at best unusual and at worst incredibly scandalous but simply chooses to ignore this. Her relationship with her maid/assistant Mallow is also on the unusual side. While Mallow is much more traditional than Lady Frances she is a good investigator in her own right and I enjoyed the brainstorming sessions and other interactions between maid and mistress.
The mystery is highly entertaining and incredibly engaging. While I had theories on some aspects I was completely in the dark about others. When it all came out I was just as surprised as any character in the book.
This was my first book in the Lady Frances Ffolkes series but it will not be my last. I'm glad I have the previous two books to catch up on while I wait for the fourth.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I'm already looking forward to visiting Lady Frances' world again.
Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy Victoria Thompson or Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series I think you would enjoy this one. I had no issue jumping into the series with this book.