Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Wages of Sin
Matthew Rowsley Mystery – Book I
BY Judith Cutler

Severn House
31 October 2019 (Out in US 04.02.20) / ISBN 9780727889386
Mystery / Historical

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 


Steward and land agent Matthew Rowsley has his work cut out for him, managing the neglected estate of the young and rakish Lord Croft. Things get even busier when first young maid Maggie disappears, and then so does his lordship. With the help of attractive housekeeper Mrs. Faulkner, he starts to investigate, and finds that there is a lot more going on than he thought.

We aren’t given a date, but judging by mentions of both bonnets and trains, I would place it around the middle of the 19th century. Rowsley is an easy man to like with his progressive and humanitarian views, nurtured by his equally forward-thinking family. He makes for a good narrator, and a lot of this novel will be of interest to anybody curious about the workings of a great estate at this time. His job entails managing everybody and keeping track of all the work and repairs as well as keeping an eye on what the staff are up to. This is clearly not a happy house, and these are definitely the bad old days with some very feudal attitudes to servants and the poor on the part of the aristocracy. There are many very good and very bad people in this book with not a lot in the middle, but it certainly gets its point home about conditions back then. The pace could have done with livening up, and the plot moves at rather a glacial speed as a plot breadcrumb at a time is revealed leading up to the conclusion, which is not hard to work out. This is not so much a mystery as a straight historical novel with mystery and even romantic elements, and I did enjoy reading about the workings of the estate. At the end of the book (I read the ebook) is the first few pages of the second entry in this new series, and as I have read and enjoyed other books by this author, I will be intrigued to see what happens next.

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2020