Historical Fiction Mystery

The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton

8 June 2021
The Heiress of Linn Hagh Book Cover The Heiress of Linn Hagh
Karen Charlton
Thomas & Mercer
9 June 2015

Northumberland, 1809: A beautiful young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh. The local constables are baffled and the townsfolk cry witchcraft . The heiress s uncle summons help from Detective Lavender and his assistant, Constable Woods, who face one of their most challenging cases: The servants and local gypsies aren t talking; Helen s siblings are uncooperative; and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands. Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud as they uncover a world of family secrets, intrigue and deception in their search for the missing heiress. Taut, wry and delightful, "The Heiress of Linn Hagh" is a rollicking tale featuring Lavender and Woods a double act worthy of Holmes and Watson."

One of the book series I enjoyed when I was younger was Sherlock Holmes. There was something about the dynamic with Holmes and Watson and how the stories were laid out that registered with me from the classic series. I’m mentioning this because I found this audiobook for this week’s review that hit all those notes I truly enjoyed from the classic Sherlock series and has its own unique and fascinating voice.

This week I am reviewing the Audible “The Heriss of Linn Hagh” by Karen Charlton, which is Book 1 of the Detective Lavender series. The period for this piece is during the Napoleonic period. Purchasing this audiobook to review was entirely on my own. I was rifling through similar titles to EM Powel and stumbled across this pretty gem of a book. I purchased this with my Audible plan, and you can find it there if you are interested.

I went into this thinking the book would be a good mystery novel, and I do love me some mystery. To those of you wonderful friends who read my reviews on the regular, you know that’s probably my comfort zone genre now. There is something about having a good story with laid out puzzling pieces to figure out.

Let me jump into this review. We are going into critiques first because I want to get them out of the way. My main critique is a story structure that is common in mysteries, and I found a minor snafu in this one. When laying out red herrings and clues, it’s good when someone can do that and make it clear what those red herrings and clues are. There was a clue that had been laid out, but it was so subtle and so gently put in that it wasn’t even presented as a clue again for a good 1/3 of the book. This clue has to do with a primary antagonist and, it just wasn’t clear that the clue was even a clue until much later.

I need to give props, though, and respect a writer their due because that was the big and only major issue I found in the entire store. Thus, my dear friends, let me go into the positives.

The structure of this story is fantastic. Aside from clue snaggles, everything else fell into a perfect cadence of mystery novel decidence. If this were a cake, it’d be a Chocolate Torte with all the sugar work and infinitely delicate technique work that a Torte needs. It was delicious.

As far as the pacing goes, it was beautifully paced. There are two parts initially to the story, that of the detectives and that of the clue elements that are infused in the narrative. And this story has the main story, but this sumptuous secondary plot is so fun and delightful. That secondary plot, by the way, oh, it’s so good. I want to keep reading this series because that’s the part I want to know more about for the life of Detective Lavander.

Now for my favorite part, the narration, and the Narrator is Michael Page. Michael has a fantastic cadence in how he speaks. I find his female characters very intriguing and believable, and his codgers are my favorite. I enjoyed how he told this story, and I think I may search for more titles to enjoy his performance more.

Lastly, every mystery needs a grounded, believable element as well as the unbelievable. What I found remarkable about this story is that the believable element is so believable that it logically makes sense to the story when the unbelievable comes in. In this case, it has to do with mental illness and how that affects families and dynamics with siblings. I’m not giving any spoilers here. I refuse. The story is too good for me to spoil it. The mental illness described in this book happened in a setting before the Victorian day, but it’s still something that is addressed and yet not addressed.

There also is a good deal about how racism and prejudice, and playing to people’s fears of the unknown, are used as means of control. People with wealth and influence can manipulate people with lower incomes to do things they may not normally do, using gaslighting techniques. Sound familiar to real life? I thought so. And it was demonstrated beautifully as an element of the story. I hope that this kind of thematic discussion continues in future books.

Overall, after scoring, I give “The Heiress of Linn Hagh” a score of 97/100, which is a 5-star review, on Audible, The Reading Desk, Goodreads, and my blog. If you are interested in a copy, check out Audible. And please, leave me a comment on my blog or The Reading Desk anytime!

Thanks for reading, catch you soon!

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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