Genre: cozy mystery
Lizard Village, 1903. It’s the dawn of a new century, and telegraph companies around the world are scrambling to be the first to send a wireless signal across the Atlantic. But Italian prodigy Guglielmo Marconi beats them to the punch. Naturally, his feat has bruised some egos, but no one expects sabotage – much less murder…
After two apparently accidental deaths at the Marconi station, Charles, Lord Sheridan, an amateur forensic detective and wireless enthusiast, is asked to head an investigation. Meanwhile, his wife, Kate Sheridan, looks into the drowning of a local girl. Soon it becomes clear that the drowning and some dirty tricks at the station are not only connected, but also involve foreign espionage, malicious intrigue, and inexplicable messages sent out of the blue…
Bradford Marsden is one of the directors of the new Marconi Wireless company. He has sunk a lot of his wife Edith’s money in it, and is afraid to see it all go down the drain. The company is in trouble, not only are they advertising things that are not reality yet, but there have been some unexplained deaths on the Lizard, and perhaps some sabotage. The press and their competitors better not get the air of that, or the company will be in severe trouble. So he asks his good friend Sir Charles Sheridan to come to Cornwall, and find out what is happening.
At the same time, Patsy Marsden is back home from her exploits in Arabia, and asks Kate Sheridan to join her in a visit to a friend in Cornwall, who has recently lost her daughter and is terribly lonely. Kate really doesn’t want to go, she doesn’t want to remember her own grief, and intrude on this woman. But Patsy doesn’t want to hear the word no, and when Charles mentions that Bradford asked him to go to Cornwall as well, things are settled. Even though Charles and Kate promised each other not to leave Bishop’s Keep for a while.
The Marconi wireless station at Poldhu has a lot of people opposed to it. The enormous amount of energy needed to send a message across the Atlantic, makes a lot of noise. The Lizard is knows for its nature, its unique birds nesting, and the Poldhu station really does disturb that piece and quiet. So lots of the locals are protesting, also because the Marconi company doesn’t hire locals to do the job, other than building the station. Being a wireless operator means you need an education at a special school.
When Gerald Fleming is found death at his work, disaster is there. Especially when the important tuner he was working on and his notebook have gone missing from the company rooms at the Poldhu hotel. Could it be that his death by electrocution was not an accident after all? And with all the competitors clamouring to be the first to invent a tuner that will keep out interference on the wireless, and keep the messages safe, there are suspects galore.
Bradford gets a nasty surprise when he sees who Marconi’s latest lady love is: a young lady he dallied with himself in Paris just a few days before his marriage to his wife Edith. Only she called herself differently back then And when he met her later in Venice, she was the young “niece” of an American gentleman, who later died suspiciously. Neither the lady nor some of the gentleman’s valuable possessions were found. And now she has her clutches in Marconi, which cannot be good. But when he tries to scare her off, she blackmails him in return, as she has kept his letters from back then.
With Gerald dead, Marconi will need to finish the device himself, and fast. After all, the Royals (The prince and princess of Cornwall, Prince George and Princess May) and the Admiral will be visiting Poldhu in a fortnight, and this mess will have to be solved before then. But Gerald was a much better inventor than Marconi, and without the device and Geralds notes, this will be hopeless.
While Charles is busy with the Poldhu situation, Kate has to deal with Pansy Marsden, and the sad Jenny Lovelace. She blames herself for her daughters’ death, and is seeing and hearing strange things. She told an old family friend about it, Sir Oliver Lodge, who is not only one of Marconi’s biggest competitors; he also has keen interest in paranormal investigations. He uses something called automatic writing, and he thinks Jenna is susceptible to spirit influence and able to perhaps connect to her daughter Harriet. Out of desperation Jenny has agreed to the séance, and she wants Pansy and Kate to be there as well, as witnesses.
Then there is the mysterious man on the sailboat in Frenchman’s Creek Jenny has been visiting in secret. Or not so secret, as the whole village knows about it. But Kate spies an old acquaintance, Captain Andrew Kirk-Smythe, keeping an eye on that man. Andrew is in disguise though, and she does not want to ruin his mission. But she does tell Charles about it, and Charles will find out more, perhaps both their missions will collide.
I absolutely loved this last mystery in the series, and I am sad to close the book. Kate and Charles are such a great couple, even though they are apart in this book, both solving things from their own end and perspective. I felt for Jenny, who lost her only daughter, and feels so guilty about it. And the young girl Alice, who misses her secret friend Harriet, and does not dare tell anybody about what really happened. I loved how Kate made friends with the little girl, and managed to get Jenny some closure in the end.
The ladies set out to explore the Lizard, and it sure is a beautiful piece of Cornwall. Robin Paige has a wonderful way with words, how she describes the scenery, and whatever happens. The book has such a tranquil feeling about it, so quiet, even though lots of things keep happening and it never gets boring for a moment. Everyone is just behaving calm and quiet most of the time, even when their emotions are in turmoil. There is not the urgency a mystery has in the modern world, where there are so many ways for the bad guy to escape the law.
I love meeting famous people from history, and learn personal details about them, not just A invented X and B invented Y. Robin Paige writes great characters in Kate and Charles, and very good secondary characters, they all come to life before my eyes.
I do recommend this series.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian