Thursday, April 26, 2012

THE DEATHLY PORTENT by Elizabeth Bailey

Publisher: Berkley
Date published: April 3, 2012
ISBN 9780425245675
Mystery, Historical Mystery
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained Via Publisher

Still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage, Ottilia (Tillie) and Francis Fanshawe have paid a visit to her godmother. While Tillie dearly loves the woman her hearing difficulties are getting the best of her and on the verge of bringing out the worst in her godchild. Together Tillie and Francis go on their way. Before long, however, their carriage breaks down and in even shorter order Tillie learns of a murder in the area. Unable to help herself her curiosity gets the better of her and the couple proceeds to the village of Witherley, the site of the murder.

There in Witherley the Fanshawes learn that the main suspense is petite Cassie Dale. By the way, Cassie is accused of being a witch. This intrigues Tillie and she is quickly on the case. Witherley has a profusion of suspects and Tillie’s mind quickly assesses just who the culprit might be. But someone doesn’t want the Fanshawes investigating the murder and Francis soon finds Tillie’s life threatened.

THE DEATHLY PORTENT is book 2 of Elizabeth Bailey’s Lady Fan mysteries. The title is an intriguing seguel into one of the character’s traits and is indicative of what makes Ms. Bailey’s books fun reads. Fun plays on words are sprinkled throughout. They don’t take you out of the story and you don’t have to look for them. They’re just there if you are paying attention and they make me smile. Ms. Bailey has a unique voice, especially for cozy mysteries because she writes in the third person.

Some of the language, however, was a bit of a struggle for me. Ms. Bailey writes true to the period and if you aren’t familiar with phrases of the time you have to stop and think about it. Every time I saw the word “b’aint” it pulled me out of the story. After the first several times it wore on me and I wanted to put the book down. I felt the story dragged with all the small town minutia. While some was needed to lead Tillie to the key suspects, there were points where it really bogged the story down. It didn’t always move the story along.

I wanted to see more of the wonderful interaction between Tillie and Francis I saw in book 1, THE GILDED SHROUD. The play between them, building their attraction to each other was fun. There was some of the teasing between them and more would not have taken away from the mystery of just who committed the murder. The Fanshawes are a fun couple. They have great chemistry and not just for romance but as great foils for solving murders.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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