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A woman of Consequence
Investigations of Miss Dido Kent, Bk 3
Anna Dean

Allison & Busby
2010/ ISBN 9780749008192
Historical Mystery / England-1806/Georgian

Reviewed by
L J Roberts

First Sentence: My dear Eliza, I promised yesterday that just as soon as I had leisure for writing should send you a full and satisfactory account of Penelope Lambe’s accident at Madderstone Abbey; and so I shall begin upon it.

Penelope Lambe is unconscious after falling down stone steps in the ruin of Madderstone Abbey. It is thought she saw the ghost of the Grey Nun. Miss Dido Kent is skeptical and believes the cause was more corporal than spiritual. When a skeleton, identified as Elinor Fenn, governess, is found within a lake being drained on the property, the verdict is self-murder. A friend does not believe Miss Fenn would have committed suicide and, in order to save her being buried in unconsecrated ground, asks Dido to investigate.

With a wonderful opening, I am reminded how much I enjoy the voice of Anna Dean and, therefore, her character Dido Kent. With shades of Jane Austen and her own delightful, wry humor, we are transported back to Georgian England..."I believe that every family which has any claim at all to grandeur should have a ghost. I consider it a kind of necessary which should be attended to as soon as the fortune is made and the country estate purchased." Ms. Dean writes her books in both third person narrative and first person through letters from Dido to her sister. While some may find this annoying, for me it is an interesting and amusing way of conveying relevant information without slowing down the story. It allows us to see both all the events and be privy to Dido thoughts at the same time.

At 36 years old, Dido is considered a spinster yet is anything but shy and retiring. She has a logical mind and approach to solving problems by investigating the clues. The secondary story of her relationship with Mr. Lomax provides an interesting look at relationships and social mores of the time. Mr. Lomax’ discomfort at Dido discussing "unsuitable" subjects, including the vulnerability of women, and the proprietary of the interactions between them are both delightful and most honest representations I have read.

Ms. Dean has written a mystery of twists and turns, of relationships and unexpected revelations. I was intrigued by some of the history, particularly the doctor trying to determine the cause of asthma. With more substance than a cozy, this was a very good traditional mystery. I anxiously await her fourth book.

Reviewed 2011