Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton

The Heiress of Linn Hagh (Detective Lavender Mysteries, Book #1)
by Karen Charlton
Release Date: June 9th 2015 (first published 2012)
2015 Thomas & Mercer
Ebook Edition; 325 Pages
ISBN: 978-1477830086
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Northumberland, November 1809: A menacing figure stalks women through Hareshaw Woods and a beautiful, young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.

The townsfolk cry 'witchcraft' and the local constabulary are baffled.

Fearing for her safety, Helen Carnaby's worried uncle sends out for help from Bow Street magistrates' court in London. Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods now face their toughest and most dangerous case. The servants and the local gypsies won’t speak to them, Helen’s siblings are sly and uncooperative and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.

Isolated in this beautiful but remote community, Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud and are alarmed to discover a sinister world of madness and violence lurking behind the heavy oak door of the ancient pele tower at Linn Hagh. Helen Carnaby's disappearance is to prove one of the most perplexing mysteries of Lavender's career. 

My Thoughts
The Heiress of Linn Hagh had quite a few interesting elements in it, and definitely had an authentic feel for the time period, even to the point of having a gothic element to it, which I really liked.  This is the first in a series featuring Detective Lavender and Constable Woods, both of whom I really enjoyed, for very different reasons; Detective Lavender reminds me of the serious type whom people don't quite trust, while Constable Woods is the Watson, whom people open up to and tell their innermost secrets.  Together, they work very well as a team.

This is definitely an old-fashioned murder, with an heiress having mysteriously disappeared from her locked bedroom, having an unconcerned older brother and sister who seem to be after her fortune, a concerned relative who seems more worried about her virtue than about her whereabouts, and the vast family hall where all the events occur. I was quite interested in the brother and sister as I wondered to what depths they would go in order to grab that fortune, an interesting lesson in human depravity and the depths to which people will succumb.  I loved the setting, right out of any 19th century gothic novel, and this one was set in early 19th century Northumbria, the perfect setting for a Regency gothic mystery.  With gypsies on the land, a natural scapegoat; howling at night, must be supernatural elements at work; secrets galore, must not let those pesky detectives find out anything; and a slew of other events, it all worked together into an interesting, if predictable, mystery.  

My favourite character by far was Anna.  I found her so interesting, and she seemed liked she would have so much to say that I always looked forward to her scenes hoping for some secrets to be spilled.  I thought there was great promise in Detective Lavender as he was quite aloof and secretive, but there were moments when he relaxed and you got a glimpse of what was driving him in his job.  I liked the duality as it made him much more interesting, especially knowing there could be a lot to discover about him.  I wasn't crazy about his relationship with the Spanish woman, Magdalena, not because I objected to his having a bit of romance, but it just seemed so out of place within the context of this story.  I do wonder if the author is setting something up for future novels and maybe it will make more sense later on.  

The Heiress of Linn Hagh is an enjoyable mystery but is fairly predictable; the reader either picks up the clues along with the detectives or knows them ahead of time kind of deflating the 'reveal' moment.  If you enjoy historical fiction, the author stays quite true to the time period, and you get a good idea what it was like to live in Regency England.  Based on actual events from her own family history, the author has woven a tale that demonstrates what happens to people when they begin to lose everything and don't know what to do about it and the steps they will take to keep others from learning about it. I liked the characters, thought they were interesting if not overly compelling, and enjoyed the overall story.  I think fans of historical and gothic fiction will enjoy this series.


  1. Replies
    1. Anything gothic catches my eye pretty quickly, and I definitely liked the characters and the setting.