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The Coroner’s Daughter
Abigail Lawless Mysteries – Book I
Andrew Hughes

Doubleday (Transworld UK)
23 February 2017/ ISBN 9781781620175

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Eighteen year old Abigail Lawless is the daughter of Dublin’s coroner and has always been encouraged by her father to take an interest in things. When a young maid from a local family kills her newborn baby and is first admitted to hospital under arrest and then dies she is convinced it is murder. Getting her father’s assistant to help her gets them both into trouble, but it looks as though the killings are not going to stop. Nobody else seems to think there is anything suspicious going on, but Abigail has been doing some investigating and knows there is a murderer on the loose…

Although Regency romances are hugely numerous there is a surprising lack of mysteries set in that period, so a new potential series is always welcome. This one is doubly welcome as it is set not in London or an English country house but in Dublin, an uncommon choice and interesting to read about. I was also intrigued to read about 1816, the notorious “year without a summer” which has everybody worried about its cause and the main reason behind the rise of religious group The Brethren. Abigail narrates the story and we learn about her life on the edge of society; friends with people like the judge’s daughter and invited to a grand ball, but helping with the chores at home and not asked to dance. This makes her freer than those higher or lower than her and thus she is a good choice for somebody able to turn sleuth, albeit as secretly as possible and at risk to her reputation. The plot is fairly simple and I guessed most of it, but this is the first in what is hopefully going to be a series and some time is spent setting the scene as with all first books. I hope I get the chance to read more about Abigail and her world.

Reviewed 2017