Bellfield Hall: Or, The Observations of Miss Dido Kent
by Anna Dean
(Originally published 2008 in England as Moment of Silence)
What It’s About: From Indiebound.org:
1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard’s shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance[...]
Why I Read It: I’ve been reading a lot of political non-fiction lately, and I needed a change. Bellfield Hall is set in 1805, and I thought the Austen-esque atmosphere would lend to a cozy, original mystery.
Why It Didn’t Work For Me: (contains minor spoilers)
- Dido Kent is an open rip off of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple–except Dido is younger and will therefore probably end up married at some point in the series.
- The characters frequently use the word “stuff.” As in, “I have some stuff in my pocket” or “I have some stuff to do.” I love ‘stuff’ as much as the next person, but for an historical mystery, I found the anachronism to be continually distracting and frustrating. And stuff.
- There is a terrible sub-plot involving a Colonel who, one can easily infer, is forcing a young male servant to have sex with him. Both the rape and the Colonel’s sexual orientation are played off for laughs, and does not affect the mystery in any way. It could have easily been left out. I found the plot very offensive, and I admit it clouded my opinion of the rest of the book.
What You Should Read Instead:
- If you’re looking for a regency novel: (Re)Read Persuasion.
- If you’re looking for a mystery with a classic feel (that is, in fact, a classic): Read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
- If you’re set on reading a regency mystery: Try this one anyway. You may like it more than I did.
BUT ONE MORE THING: I seem to be one of the few bloggers who did not enjoy this book. For other views check out these links: