Karen Charlton begins her Detective Lavender Mysteries with Book #1, ‘The Heiress of Linn Hagh’. Our story takes place in England, 1809. Historically speaking, it’s a time of high society, large homes, proper manners & ruthless class bias. Well respected Detective, Stephen Lavender, has been summoned to Bellingham to investigate the disappearance of an heiress. He’s brought along his righthand man, Constable Woods.
Traveling by coach, Lavender is lucky enough to meet Spanish beauty, Magdalena. Business comes first, but Lavender can’t shake her from his mind. Perhaps he’ll need to add romance to his to-do list. But, the heiress is top priority.
Bellingham is a town divided distinctly by class. Helen Carnaby, the aforementioned heiress, is higher on the totem pole than most. Living in sprawling Linn Hagh, their prestigious residence, Helen has been staying with her brothers, George & Matty, & sister, Isobel. As a blended family, they’ve certain had their share of turmoil, but most townspeople aren’t aware of what a den of vipers it truly is in reality. What has everyone puzzled & the reason for Lavender being brought in, is the fact that Helen disappeared in the night, from a bed chamber locked from inside. No windows were open. No intruders were found. Helen vanished behind a locked door.
Being that a family of gypsies lives deep into the Carnaby’s property, rumors of faeries & magic abound. Never one to be superstitious, Lavender knows there’s a more logical & sinister explanation. Who would want to remove Helen? Suspects add up quickly. Being that two of her three siblings dislike her for having a different mother, could her inheritance be a motivation? What of the gypsies? Obviously Lavender & Woods have their work cut out for them with only old-fashioned, 1800s detective work to rely on.
Historical fiction can often be bogged down with era-specific rhetoric & vast descriptions. Karen Charlton has avoided the traps of both of those. She stays perfectly in line with the time period & doesn’t mix any present tense in whatsoever. While Woods & Lavender reconstruct the crime, our author is careful to explain how they came to their conclusions & they all made perfect sense.
As for our leading man, he is everything we want in a hero. Dashing, patient, smart & kindhearted this detective performs his role to perfection. Woods plays the great sidekick in true Sherlock/Watson style without stealing any similarities from that duo. A well-developed supporting cast of characters brings heart & depth to the plot. Every bit of the story is squeaky clean without violence or racy scenes. As for the plot itself, it is original & mixes family ties, mystery, & history to bring us a great story with a class. I’ll be looking for more adventures of Lavender & Woods. It’s 4 star novel.