'A witty, genteel tale of secrets, lies and hidden gold... Enormous fun' The Times
'With a well-crafted plot, an engaging protagonist, and astute nods to the literature and theological squabbles of the period, this is a perfect novel for a summer afternoon' Guardian
The second novel in the Laetitia Rodd Mystery series, The Case of the Wandering Scholar is perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club, M.C. Beaton, Jessica Fellowes and James Runcie.
It is 1851 and Mrs Rodd has received an unusual commission: wealthy businessman Jacob Welland is dying of consumption and implores our redoubtable detective to find his beloved brother, whom he has not seen for fifteen years.
Joshua Welland was an Oxford scholar; brilliant, eccentric and desperately poor. Nobody can say exactly when he disappeared from his college, but he had taken to wandering the countryside and one day simply failed to return. Since then, there have been several sightings of his lonely, ragged figure.
Mrs Rodd uses her search as an opportunity to reconnect with a couple from her past, but then a violent murder is committed and Scotland Yard are called to investigate. Can Mrs Rodd solve the case before the killer strikes again?
The first book in the series, The Secrets of Wishtide, is available in ebook now.
Set in 1851, Saunders's excellent sequel to 2016's The Secrets of Wishtide opens with 53-year-old Laetitia Rodd, a clergyman's widow who does inquiries to supplement her meager income, hearing a plea from Jacob Welland, a fellow Hampstead resident who's dying of consumption. Jacob wants her to find his younger brother, Joshua, from whom he became estranged after Jacob wooed and married Joshua's love some 15 years before, so he can make amends. Joshua has been living "like a wild creature, in hedges and ditches" around Oxford in the years since a breakdown ended his studies at Oxford University. To facilitate her search, Mrs. Rodd stays with clergyman Arthur Somers and his wife, Rachel, outside Oxford. Though Somers's obsessive High Church practices disturb her, she gleans useful information from parish curate Henry Barton, a friendly Oxford don. When Arthur is poisoned, Henry and Rachel, who Mrs. Rodd has guessed love each other, are arrested for the crime, and she strives to prove their innocence. Saunders's exquisite prose and patient storytelling build a convincing Victorian voice, while Mrs. Rodd's shrewd, energetic narration adds further appeal to the rich depiction of 19th-century landscapes and attitudes. Mainstream readers who appreciate Victorian fiction will be rewarded.