Sunday, January 9, 2022

Review: A Secret Never Told by Shelley Noble

by Shelley Noble
Release Date: November 16, 2021
2021 Forge Books
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250750457
Audiobook: B09J6HPHYD
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher
3.5 / 5 Stars
Fate obliges when Phil is called upon to host a dinner party in honor of a visiting Austrian psychologist whose revolutionary theories may be of interest to the War Department, not to mention various foreign powers, and who may have already survived one attempt on his life. The guest list includes a wealthy industrialist, various rival scientists and academics, a party hypnotist, a flamboyant party-crasher, and a damaged beauty whose cloudy psyche is lost in a world of its own. Before the night is out, one of the guests is dead with a bullet between the eyes and Phil finds herself with another mystery on her hands, even if it’s unclear who exactly the intended victim was meant to be.

Worse yet, the police’s prime suspect is a mystery man who Phil happens to be rather intimately acquainted with. Now it’s up to Lady Dunbridge, with the invaluable assistance of her intrepid butler and lady’s maid, to find the real culprit before the police nab the wrong one . . .
My Thoughts
A Secret Never Told is the next book in the Lady Dunbridge Mystery series, and I think one of the reasons I keep reading this series is for the historical descriptions. This one featured some aspects of Coney Island as well as delving into the early fields of psychology, something that fascinated me.  
I am a huge fan of historical mysteries so I really loved the descriptions of the time period. Coney Island was hugely popular in the early 1900s so I was intrigued about it being used as a setting for a murder as it was chock full of those things; I didn't want to learn about the rides and the fun stuff, I wanted the underbelly, the wheelings and dealings of the criminal world.  And while the story definitely alluded to that, and the characters did come across some shady stuff, I really felt like all they did was touch upon it and didn't really delve into it.  

The author's writing style is great though, and has this way of drawing you into the story.  I definitely enjoyed her descriptions of the time period and thought the character development (from the first book) was good.  Phil, to be honest, is the most annoying of the characters, but her heart is in the right place and she wants to do well by her friends and her servants, whom she considers friends.  Personally, she drives me crazy. And I am not a fan of her relationship with Mr. X.  I don't know who this man is, but I have my suspicions; I don't have any objections to the teasing and flirting, etc...but I can't put my finger on why the whole thing makes me uneasy. Maybe it's because Phil also flirts with the detective and finds him attractive as well, and I have never been a fan of those love triangle things, not that this is what it is, but I am really hoping it doesn't go there.  That being said, I am fascinated by both Lily and Preswick, her servants, and their skill set, and know there is a story there to be told and am waiting patiently for the day it happens.  

I did enjoy the mystery and thought there were plenty of twists and turns; however, it was kind of easy to figure out if you paid attention.  I am not a psychology major, but I did have to take a few classes in uni and I was always fascinated by the development of the field so I found the arguments between the various characters, who were split into various fields and followers, quite interesting.  I also know it was very political, especially considering the state of world politics during this time period as various countries were building their military forces and looking at many different things to augment them.  I was a bit disappointed that we didn't discover more about the reasons why Phil's boss wanted her involved, but I guess that will be revealed in future books.  The lack of knowledge about the War Department's involvement is starting to get on my nerves though.  And this is where I do have knowledge, considering the time period, as we head into WWI. I want to know more about the political stuff, about Mr. X., and about the War Department. 
A Secret Never Told was a quick and fun read, chock full of interesting facts about Coney Island and the development of psychology in the early 1900s.  I thought the author had a great writing style and I found her characters interesting, but I am not a huge fan of the main character and some of the things do require some suspension of belief.  I am intrigued by Mr. X and the War Department's involvement and look forward to learning more about them in future books.  Recommend if you are looking for a fun historical mystery series.