WHISPER OF DEATH
By Patricia Wynn
Publisher: Pemberley Press (November, 2017)
Blue Satan and Mrs. Kean mystery series (Book #6)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
England: October 1716. King George’s troops had put down the Jacobite Rebellion of the previous year, sending James Stuart, the Pretender to the throne, to exile in France. James’s supporters may have been beaten, but they haven’t given up. In Torey coffee houses, men are still toasting to the King Overseas and plotting how to put him on the throne they believe was rightfully his.
London: Hester Kean is enjoying a rare day out, touring Saint Paul’s Cathedral with her cousin Mary Mayfield. Their guide is Christopher Wren, son of the architect who designed it. Hester is the poor relation who waits on Mary’s sister, Isabella, Countess of Hawkhurst. They are accompanied by Lord Hawkhurst’s receiver-general, John Henry.
As they descend, Hester hears a man’s angry voice saying “I shall kill him with my bare hands.” She is puzzled to find no one in her vicinity. The mystery is solved when Wren explains the peculiar acoustics of the Whisper Gallery. Hester realizes that the angry voice could have belonged to any one of several men in the cathedral at the time.
Among the men she recognizes are Lord Iveson and two of his friends, all staunch supporters of the king. Iveson’s son, Lord Wragby, is also nearby, espousing the cause of the Pretender. The odious young man has been aggressively pursuing the sixteen year old Mary, who does not welcome his attentions. He is not only repulsive, but married. In truth, Mary is very fond of James Henry, a most unsuitable match in her mother’s eyes.
When Lord Wragby is murdered, James Henry is the prime suspect. Wragby’s father, the powerful Lord Iveson, pressures Lord Hawkhurst to turn the young man over to the court, but Hawkhurst is not convinced of his guilt. His friends unite to prove his innocence. There is one person missing from the group: Gideon St. Mars, disgraced son of the late Lord Hawkshurst. After Hester accepted his proposal of marriage several months ago, he was forced to flee to his estate in France without her. To her relief, and delight, he manages to make his way back to her, and to join in the plan to save John Henry.
The plight of the star-crossed lovers is at the heart of the story. They have weathered many storms, starting with their first meeting, when Gideon, in his guide as the highwayman Blue Satan, robbed her coach. Will this finally be their time? Read the book to find out.WHISPER OF DEATH is an immensely entertaining and readable historical novel, intertwining real and fictional people and events seamlessly into one fine novel. It is rich in period detail, the good, the bad, and the awful. This is the sixth in Ms. Wynn’s excellent Blue Satan and Mrs. Kean series. Highly recommended.
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