The Gilded Shroud
Written by Elizabeth Bailey
Published by Sapere Books
Publication date: 21st June 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
The perfect mix of historical murder and mystery with a hint of romance! For fans of Georgette Heyer, Mary Balogh, Barbara Erskine and Jane Austen.
When a murder is committed a lady’s companion finds herself as an amateur sleuth…
When Emily Fanshawe, Marchioness of Polbrook, is found strangled in her bedchamber, suspicion immediately falls on those residing in the grand house in Hanover Square.
Emily’s husband – Randal Fanshawe, Lord Polbrook – fled in the night and is chief suspect – much to the dismay of his family.
Ottilia Draycott is brought in as the new lady’s companion to Sybilla, Dowager Marchioness and soon finds herself assisting younger son, Lord Francis Fanshawe in his investigations.
Can Ottilia help clear the family name? Does the killer still reside in the house?
Or could there be more to the mystery than meets the eye…?
THE GILDED SHROUD is the first book in the Lady Fan Mystery series: historical romance murder mysteries with a courageous woman sleuth embarking on a traditional British, private investigation in eighteenth-century London.
‘A satisfying solution and well-chosen period detail will leave readers eager for the sequel.’ – Publisher’s Weekly
‘a very enjoyable Pre-Regency-style read. With fluent writing and a fabulous ending, author Elizabeth Bailey is sure to have a hit mystery series on her clever hands.’ – www.burtonbookreview.com
‘Ms. Bailey delivers an exceptionally written mystery with an impeccably described and lively Georgian setting. THE GILDED SHROUD is sure to become a favorite among Regency novel lovers.’ – freshfiction.com
‘Readers will love Bailey’s period detail and strong characterization. Full of danger and intrigue this is a historical cozy that fans of the genre will not want to miss’ – Debbie’s Book Bag
‘A light upstairs-downstairs affair with clever dialog. Georgette Heyer is a strong influence on Bailey, and Bailey does it well, deftly mixing her detecting with a gentle romance. Terrific crossover appeal for Georgian romance readers who crave a corpse with their love stories.’ – Library Journal
‘a lively, entertaining read and the start of an engaging Georgian England series’ – The Poisoned Pen
‘has the scenery and the upstairs-downstairs characters down pat’ – Kirkus Review
‘a heroine who overcomes the bonds of Georgian propriety with incomparable insight and insatiable curiosity… A delightful debut mystery’ – Victoria Thompson, author of Murder on Sisters’ Row
‘a charming Regency romantic amateur sleuth starring a wonderful intelligent heroine.
The screams, delivered at a pitch of terror that jangled nerves all over the household, drove into the dreams of Lord Francis Fanshawe and jerked him awake.
For a space of several seconds, he blinked uncomprehendingly into the gloom of his curtained bed, half-fogged in the remnants of sleep. Then, with a speed ingrained through years of soldiering, he flung aside bedclothes and curtains, launched himself out of bed, thrust his feet into a pair of embroidered slippers, and gathered up his dressing gown on his way to the door.
The anguished wails were coming from the other side of the house in relation to where his chamber was situated, but Francis made short work of the lobby and came out into the vestibule in time to witness several flying figures racing downstairs and up, heading for the commotion. By the time he reached the scene, fastening the belt of the gown he had dragged on over his nightshirt as he sped, a veritable crowd was gathered in the hallway between the principal bedchambers.
The screams had subsided into a violence of sobbing, joined by a riot of comment and question. Francis’s mind raced, the intense urgency of the clamour lacing query with foreboding. His brother Randal? Or was it outside Emily’s room that the knot was gathering? What disaster could have occurred to merit this level of panic?
Arriving at the edge of the hubbub, Francis halted perforce. He adopted the voice of penetrating command.
“What the devil is amiss? Who was it screaming?”
A swift hush fell, even the intensity of sobs reducing a fraction. Several faces turned in his direction, written over variously in shock, horror, and bewilderment.
“It’s her ladyship, my lord. She’s dead.”
This is a brilliant mixture of historical fiction, crime and romance.
I didn’t initially know what to expect from this book, but ended up enjoying it very much!
It drops you right into the action with the lady of the house being discovered, murdered, in her bed. The lord of the house has disappeared, calling for his horses in the middle of the night. Did he murder his wife?
We are then introduced to Ottilia who is new to her post as a lady’s companion and becomes instrumental in solving the crime. She struck me as a very modern character and I did wonder if she would have been given so much freedom as a woman in the 1780s. Regardless of this, I thought she was a fascinating character and really enjoyed her interactions with the family dealing with the aftermath and possible scandal caused by the murder.
I really liked how the author dropped in little nuggets of information about the historical period without it ever feeling contrived or slowing down the fast-paced plot. This was an enjoyable, page-turner of a book and I, for one, will certainly will reading further books in this series!
“You will have to get used to Ottilia. She has a keen mind and cannot help exercising it at the expense of everyone with whom she comes in contact.”
“What is so particularly maddening about you, Ottilia, is that you have an answer for everything.” He grinned at her. “Lead on, then.”
What I liked: Detailed historical setting with accurate language – it was clearly well-researched and author is very familiar with this period. I find the French Revolution fascinating and I really liked how this was used as a backdrop, with the tension of the murdered lady’s husband disappearing to France in a period where this would have been fraught with tension. I loved the characters of Ottilia, the dowager and Lord Fan. They are definitely characters who I would like to get to know better in future books.
Even better if: I guessed ‘whodunit’ very quickly so I would have liked a bit more of a mystery. However, there were several red herrings scattered throughout which made me doubt my original choice.
How you could use it in your classroom: This could be recommended for older readers (e.g. college) who are interested in historical fiction or mysteries. I can imagine this being a great way to stretch people wanting to improve their vocabulary too – I learned quite a few new words whilst reading this!
(Thank you to Sapere Books for my e-review copy!)
Don’t miss my interview with the author, coming tomorrow, and other stops on this blog tour:
Thanks for reading!