1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard's shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again.
Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It's going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.
Dean's promising debut, the first in a new historical series, introduces Dido Kent, a single lady of a certain age who's not too old to regret she "gave up the business of falling in love some years ago." In September 1805, Dido journeys to Bellfield Hall, the country seat of the Montague family, at the request of her niece, Catherine, who's upset that her fianc , Richard Montague, has suddenly broken their engagement and taken flight. Soon after arriving at Bellfield Hall, Dido learns of an even more distressing event the discovery of the body of an unknown young woman in the shrubbery. In the Miss Marple tradition, Dido observes the residents of Bellfield Hall closely, questions the servants, and interviews local shopkeepers. Excerpts from letters the likable Dido writes to her sister further illuminate her sleuthing methods. Several red herrings keep the reader and Dido guessing. Regency fans will look forward to the next installment.