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Publisher: John Daniel & Co
Release Date: March 2004
ISBN: 1880284677
Format Reviewed: Advanced Reader Copy
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Genre:   Historical Mystery
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Brenda Weeaks
Reviewer Notes:  

The Affair of the Incognito Tenant
By Lora Roberts

   Mrs. Dodson's employer, Major Fallowes, passed away two months ago. His Will promises his staff six more months of employment. The Major also gives each staff member a small inheritance. Now the Major's solicitor, Mr. Bagshaw, has delivered a new tenet to Larkbanks. He will be in charge of Larkbanks until the solicitor finds the Major's missing niece. Mr. Sigerson, the new tenet, is an odd sort. He's researching bees and hopes to settle them down in Larkbanks' orchids. He eventually hides away in the library, but when surveying the house, he questions Mrs. Dodson's first impression of him, giving her the notion that he's judging her intelligence.

    Violet and Rose are the maids, as well as sisters. Violet wanted to go to London with her inheritance, but her sister didn't agree, so she sits reading the newspaper, complaining about London's excitement - wild beasts attacking people, famous MP with an opium habit, famous sleuth threatened by an arch criminal. She also reads about a vampire stalking a quiet village near them. Sit still long enough and the excitement is bound to come to you. Larkbanks is set to experience a heavy dose of excitement - and a famous visitor.

    This historical cozy is told in first person by Mrs. Dodson. The Victorian atmosphere is convincing, and the dialog clear. In fact, the author has a little fun with the career of her lead character. Each chapter begins with an epigraph taken from the 1898 edition of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. The insights add up to an informative history lesson in Victorian housekeeping.

     The Affair of the Incognito Tenant is a light, entertaining read. Die-hard Sherlockians may or may not agree with how Mr. Holmes' character is presented. Speaking for myself, I enjoyed it thoroughly.