Murder at Hartigan House
Ginger Gold Mysteries #2
258 pages, ebook, paperback
La Plume Press, June 2017
Cozy Mystery, Historical Mystery, Period Piece
I purchased this at the current price. This is my honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind.
The cover is in the style of the rest of the series, which is rather attractive. This is not how I pictured the house in my mind while reading the book, but that’s okay. It represents the house just fine. I do like the logo that’s been created for this series of books. It’s rather how I picture Lady Ginger Gold. Though I never picture her still since she always seems to be in motion, even her thoughts, or maybe especially her thoughts. The story is really quite good in this installment. Her father has died and she’s come home to England to check on his estate and finds the body of a woman in one of the servants’ rooms. A body that’s obviously been there since the house was closed up ten years earlier. The characters from the previous book are becoming more familiar, especially Ginger, herself, and her friend, Haley Higgins. Her dog, Boss, short for Boston. And the Chief Inspector from Scotland Yard, Chief Inspector Basil Reed. We also see Scout, Ginger’s friendly young jack-of-all-trades from the streets that she met on the ship in the first book. New to us, but not Ginger, is her former butler, Pippins. They share a special bond from her youth that still exists between them. I’m finding that characters that are going to be showing up again in other books, are better fleshed out and the one-timers are more like caricatures. It seems to work quite well, especially since the author is consistent with this technique so far. The pace was rather brisk, as I think one can expect from the Ginger Gold stories. I think it relates to Ginger’s personality and the way her mind works. She’s not a peaceful person or a quiet person. She’s always thinking and doing. Not really flighty or dithery, but always in motion like that. Like a hummingbird, colorful and in rapid motion constantly. The tension of the book starts when Ginger gets the telegram notifying her of something GHASTLY in the attic of her father’s house. This is about the third paragraph of chapter one, so you really jump right in at the start. And it keeps you entertained right up until the end when Ginger names her next enterprise in the last sentence of the book.
And here starts the reveal…
The character of Lady Ginger Gold is hard to describe for me. Let me try. I want to say that she’s dithery and flighty, but she’s not. I described her as a hummingbird, and that may be as close as I can come. She’s a fashionista, to put it in today’s terms. She’s a lady since her late husband was a Lord. She’s quite intelligent and educated for a woman of her times, I believe. She’s observant and is good with puzzles. She’s rather practical in spite of her position and wealth. She’s quite rich having inherited from her husband and now her father. She’s brave and has quick responses. That’s rather a disorganized mess of a description, but that’s why I called her a hummingbird.
Well, it’s not much of a homecoming, but it’s what she’s got. A telegram talking about a GHASTLY find in the attic, that would be the servants’ quarters, of her late father’s house. The very house she’s come back to England to settle since she’s just inherited it. She’s brought Haley with her, since Haley’s going to medical school to become a doctor, something that raises eyebrows in this day and age, still. While taking a look at the evidence in Andrew Bailey’s old room, Boss finds the broken end of the woman’s finger under the bed. Why was the woman’s finger broken? Nothing else seems to have been damaged. But the red satin dress the woman is wearing is a high fashion gown that Ginger recognizes as one called the Lucille from 1913, the year the house was closed up following at New Year’s Eve party. So, who was this woman dressed up in a designer gown in her father’s valet’s room? Had no one missed her in the last ten years? And who had put her here?
To help find the solution to the questions, Ginger calls in the police. They come in the person of Chief Inspector Basil Reed and his Sergeant Scott. It’s during the initial questions that Basil finds out that Ginger is Lady Gold. He’s not in the least intimidated. They work well together in this case, just as they did in the first case they had on the ship in Murder on the SS Rosa.
Entertaining and being entertained is Ginger’s way of getting evidence. So she throws a reenactment of the original New Year’s Eve Party. She gets all kinds of reactions from totally oblivious to totally seeing through her. Lord Turnbull arrives with a young woman who is wearing a ruby ring that causes all sorts of problems and almost costs the young woman her life.
It does cost Lord Turnbull his life because its mere presence tells someone the whole story.
Ginger’s late father’s valet has been found. He has also been the valet to Lord Turnbull until his death. He’s had to keep these awful secrets and has been really scared that he’d end up taking the blame for what happened that night. Ginger and Basil listen to his story and add what he says to the pile of accumulating information they’ve gathered and shared. Andrew Bailey knew who had killed the woman whose body had been found in his old room. In fact, he had put it there, having been blackmailed with his younger brother’s safety by Lord Turnbull. Lord Turnbull had choked her to death with his hands when she pushed him too far in trying to make him marry her so that she would have his title. Poor Andrew still had to be arrested for what he did.
But they still didn’t know who had killed Lord Turnbull. The testing was in and they knew he had been poisoned. They knew it was atropine, from the belladonna plant, which Mrs. Thornton, the cook raised in the garden. Well, here she is serving it up to Ginger in tea when she comes back from having lunch with Haley. She hustles Ginger up the stairs to the servants’ quarters to an unused room. And Mrs. Thornton tells her sad tale to Ginger. How she had been raped by an employer and her daughter, Eunice, had been taken and raised by the lady of the house as her daughter and Mrs. Thornton had to go work somewhere else. It was at Hartigan House. Then Eunice walked into the party that night with a Lord! And then she died! But the ring showed up again on Harriet’s finger with the same Lord! Then she knew who had killed her daughter. She knew that Lord Hartigan and Lord Turnbull were close in those days, so he had to have known what was happening. She was going to kill Ginger, a daughter for a daughter. And there she left Ginger on the floor right where her daughter, Eunice, had been dumped. It was only by the actions of Boss that Pippins found Ginger before she could expire. Haley and the doctor were called in and Lady Gold was on her way back to health. Apparently, during her recovery, she has enough time to think up more ways to get into trouble. She announces at the end that she plans to open a ladies dress shop called Feathers & Flair, which just happens to be part of the title of another book in the series.
Book #3 Murder at Bray Manor