The Woman Who Spoke to Spirits
Sophie Gorell Barnes
Fiction, historical mystery
January 28th, 2019
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Published in audio by Oakhill
Victorian London, 1880. “I’m dreadfully afraid someone is threatening to kill my wife …” When accounts clerk Ernest Stibbins approaches the World’s End investigation bureau with wild claims that his wife Albertina has been warned by her spirit guides that someone is out to harm her, the bureau’s owner Lily Raynor and her new employee Felix Wilbraham are initially sceptical. How are the two private enquiry agents supposed to investigate threats from beyond the grave? But after she attends a séance at the Stibbins family home, Lily comes to realize that Albertina is in terrible danger. And very soon so too is Lily herself …
This is the first book in the new World’s End Bureau Mystery series
Set in London during the Victorian period, Clare’s latest is engaging, dark, atmospheric, and, at times, quite charming and humorous. After her career as a maternity nurse in India ended distressingly, Lily Raynor returned to London. Seeking another career option, she opened her own private-investigation agency. After some initial modest successes, she now needs an assistant. Expecting to hire a woman, Lily is surprised when the best candidate is Felix Wilbraham, a young man with hidden talents and a rather mysterious past. The pair soon find themselves with two demanding cases. First, wealthy Lord Berwick asks Lily to find evidence that the actress his ne’er-do-well son plans to marry is an unsuitable wife for a future peer of the realm. Second, Ernest Stibbins is concerned about a potential threat against his wife, Albertina, a gifted medium. While he can’t specify what the threat might be, he’s terrified that his beloved—and much younger—wife is in grave danger. A clever plot, two engaging sleuths, plenty of period ambience, and a satisfying ending make this a fine choice for all mystery collections.
London of the 1880s isn’t the typical setting for a female sleuth heading her own detective agency, but Lily Raynor is anything but typical. An former war nurse, Lily runs the World’s End Bureau, where her reputation for precision and discretion has created so much business for the agency that she must hire an assistant, the clever Felix Wilbraham. The bureau may have met its match, though, when Ernest Stibbins walks in the door. He wants to hire the agency to protect his clairvoyant wife, Albertina, who often communes with the dead, from a threat she feels from beyond the grave. Lily attends a séance at the Stibbinses’ home and realizes that the danger to Mrs. Stibbins is very real, and Lily may be in danger as well. Clare’s (“Hawkenlye” series) first novel in the “World’s End Bureau” series is charming and suspenseful. The author’s writing style, likable characters, and intriguing plot will draw in readers. Lily and Felix are both well-rounded, complex characters with interesting backstories. The plot is multifaceted and will keep readers engaged.
VERDICT Recommended for historical and traditional mystery lovers
Other publications by Alys Clare
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