The fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series, published March 1999. My book has a very pretty blue cover instead of this brown one.
For Kathryn Ardleigh and her newly Lorded husband, Charles, a seaside holiday in Rottingdean is a much-needed respite. Known as Smuggler’s Village, the cozy hamlet sits upon a labyrinth of hundred-year-old tunnels through which contraband goods were once smuggled in and out of England.
But when the body of a coast guard is found on the beach, the couple suspect the town is still plying the illicit trades of its past. And with the help of an imaginative young writer named Rudyard Kipling, they’re about to discover that something’s rotten in the town of Rottingdean…
Charles Sheridan has inherited his brother’s title of Baron, and of course the obligations that go with it. As he takes those seriously, that means taking care of the estate, and being in London for the sittings of Parliament. As Kate is a dutiful wife, and doesn’t want to leave her husband alone, she accompanies him to London. But the bad air and the very busy social life were the reasons for a great personal tragedy for the Sheridan’s. So now they have come to Rottingdean for a well deserved vacation. Some personal time, without any socializing, or that is the plan.
The first person they meet is the newly famous author Rudyard Kipling, who invites them over to meet his family. The next day they are all near the beach when the body of a murdered coast guard is discovered. The villagers and the local constable hush it up, proclaiming the man was given to black moods and probably killed himself by jumping down the cliffs. When sir Charles offers the constable his aid, he is briskly send on his way.
But then, another murdered coast guard is discovered, and the young boy Patrick, who witnessed some shady dealings before, is of to the party where Sir Charles and Mr Kipling are invited for. But they are not the only ones who hear his story, the Prince of Wales is also present, and he appoints Sir Charles to discover the truth about the death of the officers of the Crown. Sir Charles doesn’t really want the appointment, he has promised Kate a month of quiet togetherness, but he has no choice but to accept. The Chief Constable in Bristol will aid him.
And so, with the reluctant help of young Patrick, who doesn’t want to betray his fellow villagers to outsiders, Mr Kipling and his aunt, Sir Charles and Kate go to the bottom of this mystery. There is a lot more serious stuff going on than a bit of smuggling…
Another love cozy Victorian Mystery by Robin Paige. Every time I wonder which famous persons of that time I will meet through those books. Rudyard Kipling this time, who has not read his Jungle Books as a child? Or just seen the Disney versions of them? I love the total realistic way history is woven into this mystery, every bit a tiny new invention important to the future and crime investigation. This time, X-ray’s are used to find the bullet that killed the second coast guard. A new type of gun is discovered, much more deadly than any other gun on the market. Dangerous times are looming on the horizon.
As usual, I enjoy the interaction between Kate and Charles, and their personal servants. Kate accomplishes things her husband wouldn’t have thought off, soliciting confidences in strange servants and other women. Helping Charles in his investigation more than he thinks.
I liked Patrick, a very bright and curious boy, and wonder if he will appear in the coming books in this series again.
Robin Paige’s writing style is fluent, fast paced, and I love it. The servants and villager’s conversation is written in dialect though, which is not always easy to follow, lots of left out letters. No love scenes in this cozy mystery ;)