Blue Satan Mystery sseries, No 4
July 1, 2011/ ISBN 9781935421016
Historical Mystery / London, England-1716
by LJ Roberts
First Sentence: On the bank of the Rover Thames, just south
of the tiny village of Lambeth between the Archbishop’s Palace
and the Manor of Vauxhall, stood a modest property, the secret residence
of Gideon Fitzsimmmons, the outlawed Viscount St. Mars.
It is 1716 and Sir Walter Tatham has been found dead. Even more
remarkable is that his body has been dressed in coronation robes
and is leaning frozen against a booth at the Frost Fair on the frozen
River Thames. Lord Hawkhurst, employer to Hester Kean, asks her
to see what she can find out about Tatham’s affairs but she
can’t do it alone. However, her friend Viscount St. Mars,
outlawed and with a price on his head, is busy trying to help a
Jacobite prisoner escape from Newgate, prove his own innocence and
regain his title. The two join forces to help one another while
outside influences threaten their potential relationship.
It’s the details that count. Historical notes and the background
information they provide add so much to both the education of the
reader and the enjoyment of the reading. Ms. Wynn provides a history
of the Jacobites, not only as it relates to the Scots, but to many
of the English as well. Even within the story, she provides excellent
descriptions of everything from details of the staffs’ duties,
to the portrayal of London and the Thames frozen after 50 days of
cold for the first time in 30 years, down to something as small
as Hester attaching pattens to her shoes. Now if only publisher
would have included a map of 1716 London…but that’s
not the author’s fault. At least there are wonderful illustrations
on the book’s end papers and versus from “The Art of
Walking the Streets of London” by John Gay (1716) at each
Ms. Wynn’s characters, both likeable and not, are fully developed.
Hester Kean is the daughter of a clergyman now employed as the companion
of her cousin, Isabella. Isabella is shallow and self-involved,
but not cruel. Her mother, Mrs. Mayfield, realizes it is only her
daughter’s marriage to Harrowby Fitzsimmons that allows her
family to live comfortably. Harrowby, weak and easily influenced,
gained his wealth and title as Viscount St. Mars due to his cousin,
Gideon Fitzsimmons being declared an outlaw, but could lose it all
should Gideon prove his innocence. The circle is complete due to
the friendship between Gideon and Hester, who believes in his innocence.
Ms. Wynn ensures readers new to the series are brought up to speed
through a very good summary of previous events.
The dialogue, particularly between Gideon and Hester, is excellent.
It has a natural flow and contributes to a sense of the time and
manners of the period. The relationship between the two characters
may feel frustratingly slow, but is, again, reflective of the time
and situations in which the characters find themselves. The quandary
in which Heather finds herself and the weight of that decision is
very well demonstrated. It suits her character to weight the decision
rather than address it emotionally.
The book is so well plotted with a delicious twist early in the
story. Wynn builds tension and suspense palpably, taking her characters
to the precipice only to turn them away at the last moment leaving
the characters disappointed and the readers thrilled. At least she
takes pity and prevents a fall from one metaphorical ledge at the
A Killing Frost is not a light, romantic book with the
sheen of historical mystery. It is a fascinating historical mystery
with an element of romance. It is also one engrossing read.