Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark-Donna Lea Simpson

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark
Donna Lea Simpson
Sourcebooks, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402217913

The letter from her best friend Lady Lydia Bestwick seemed hysterical to sensible Lady Anne Addison. However, concerned about her buddy’s mad rant regarding werewolf sightings, Anne travels to Darkefeel Castle in Yorkshire to prove her wrong and bring some peace of mind to Lydia.

Forced to go on foot to complete her trek to the remote castle, Anne hears the scream of a woman in the dark gloomy woods before stumbling upon a corpse. As she investigates the homicide she tripped over and the alleged werewolf sightings sworn to God by the villagers and employees of the castle, Anne realizes the evidence points towards the only uncooperative person in the vicinity, Lydia’s recalcitrant brother-in-law the Marquess of Darkefell. As Anne finds indications of a poorly developed frame with ties to the bustling slave trade, the Marquess makes it clear he wants her in spite of his objection to her independence and courage.

This is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth that introduces readers to a terrific Georgian Era gender bending detective. The story line contains three wonderful subplots that tie together with a Moebius Knot twist: romance, investigation including into potentially paranormal and the profound look at the slave trade with its biblical “Curse of Ham” misinterpretation rationalization. With a nod to The Hound of the Baskervilles albeit a century plus earlier, Donna Lea Simpson’s first Lady Anne eighteenth century mystery is a howling success.

Harriet Klausner

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