This delightful first book of the Kurland St. Mary Mystery series begins just after the battle of Waterloo with two characters that are thrown together in their efforts to solve a murder. Major Robert Kurland is recuperating from battle wounds but finds his mind as sharp as ever. His childhood friend Lucy, of course, comes to visit him in his convalescing and soon strengthens the friendship by going where he cannot in order to catch a killer. Both characters have demons of their own to battle and as the story unfolds and the danger increases they are forced to grapple with their issues and face the truth about themselves.
Catherine Lloyd does an exceptional job endearing the different characters to the reader. From the butler to the townsfolk, the people come to life with a surprising depth in such a short time. The banter between the two main figures is not unlike that of Miss Fisher and Detective Jack. From the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. It is quite refreshing and yet very deeply thought out.
I cannot truly find anything I dislike about this book but can think of plenty that I do like. Lucy the main female has not had the kindest of parenting and feels a bit inferior to the world, but she does not wallow around in her self pity. Actually she does quite the opposite - she takes life as it comes, squares her shoulders and faces it head on. This would seem to include her circumstances and emotions. This quote from the book gives a window into what kind of woman she is and I absolutely love that. “’He can’t help being difficult. Have you tried to sheer him up?’ ‘Of course I haven’t. I sit there and sob into my handkerchief and bemoan his wounds.’ ‘There is no need to be flippant.’ Anna glanced across at Anthony. ‘I just wondered if perhaps you were a little ‘sharp’ with him.’ ‘As I am with my family?’ Lucy raised her eyebrows.”
The atmosphere and setting of the story are very subtly interwoven in the dialogue so as not to burden the reader with details, yet give them just the same. The “stony texture” or the “jewel blue sky” give the sense of the rolling hills and wild fields of England so as to give the story a romantic feel but as the plot intensifies so do the meaningful life lessons. This may be one of my favorite quotes in the whole book. “Pain flinched across his face as if she had slapped him. ‘Don’t you think I know that?’ ‘You cannot allow one facet of you personality to define you. You are far more than a soldier.’”
All in all, this book is one of my all time favorites in that it represents a beauty in a very realistic scenario. Not a whimsical fairy tale version but something that would pertain to real life. If you are a fan of the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber, you will adore this set as well. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Note: This book is available to read online with Overdrive or Libby!
-Special Guest author, Jenny
About the author: Jenny has worked at WCPL for 3 years. She enjoys reading, watching British TV shows, and spending time with her friends and family.