One of the brilliant things about writing a blog is that your reading boundaries seem to organically expand. If you’d asked me a few years ago what sort of books I liked I’d never have said anything like crime fiction or mystery novels. And yet over the past year a little open-mindedness and a lot of good recommendations have left proved very wrong.
So when Elizabeth Bailey contacted me and asked me to review her latest book ‘The Deathly Portent’ I was helpless to say no. With my passion for mysteries recently ignited the thought of a historical novel about a mysterious murder in a sleepy English village instantly piqued my interest.
This second instalment in the ‘Lady Fan mystery series’ begins when Ottilia and her husband Lord Francis Fanshawe find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere after their coach breaks down. Desperate and in need of a repairman they find themselves seeking refuge in a nearby local village.
Although Witherley may seem like a quaint and peaceful village it is clear that deep-set tensions lie under the surface. Only the night before the local blacksmith was murdered in the night and it seems nearly everyone is convinced that the blame lies at the hands of Cassie Dale, a local girl who suffers from unexplainable ‘visions’ and whom everyone suspects is a witch.
Logical and intuitive to the last Ottilia scoffs the claims and makes it her mission to get to the bottom of the murders. But when a second body turns up it would seem the murderer is monopolizing Cassie’s visions and setting her up to hide their own hideous crimes.
The plot thickens into an intriguing and complicated mystery as Bailey keeps her readers on their toes by throwing in a delectable mix of suspects and red herrings. Add to that the unusual but exciting twist of Cassie Dale and you have a real page turning book.
As I’ve said I was never really a huge fan of crime or mystery prior to starting my blog. I think I’d always stuck to mystery books that were really predictable and forgettable. However there is nothing predictable or forgettable about The Deathly Portent and it’s clever mix of mystery, murder, witch hunts and historical fiction making it a real unique piece of writing.
If you like history books that transport you back in time then this book might just be your thing. If you like cleverly woven plots that have you on the edge of the seat then it’s perfect.
I can see that many people would also be bowled over by the character of Ottilia who is feisty, vivacious and relentless in her pursuit of the truth. Kind but tenacious, charming and adaptable she will stop at nothing to avenge the victims of these crimes..
Do keep an eye out for my interview with Elizabeth Bailey, the results of which I will be posting very soon.