Lady Rights a Wrong
Manor Cat Mystery #2
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
As the suffragette movement sweeps England in 1912, Lady Cecilia Bates wants to march but ends up trailing a killer instead in the latest entry to the Manor Cat Mysteries.
Lady Cecilia of Danby Hall feels adrift. She couldn’t be less interested in helping to plan her brother’s upcoming wedding, nor finding a husband herself. Instead, what excites her most is the Woman’s Suffrage Union meeting she has just attended.
Inspired by the famous and charismatic leader of the group, Mrs. Amelia Price, Cecilia is eager to join the Union—if she can hide it from her parents, that is. But when Mrs. Price is found dead at the foot of the stairs of her home, her Votes for Women sash torn away, Cecilia knows she must attend to a more urgent matter: finding the killer. With the help of her lady’s maid Jane and intelligent cat Jack, she hopes to play her part in earning women’s equality by stopping the Union’s dangerous foe. (from Goodreads)
This novel is a must-read for those who enjoy historical cozy mysteries! We enjoy a period as energized in the setting of the novel, 1912 Yorkshire, England, as it was in the US regarding suffrage. Passions run high for both those and against suffrage, and we see both sides of the argument personified here. The characters are well-defined, the mystery is stimulating, and the setting sounds absolutely gorgeous.
Lady Cecilia, instrumental in finding the murderer of a man who died in their dining room earlier in the year, has felt unsettled since. She feels something is missing in her life, something that couldn’t be resolved by being in London for The Season or meeting all the men her mother wanted her to consider courting. At not quite 20, Mama wants her to marry well, and in the meantime, help with social obligations, such as the upcoming church bazaar. That is what ladies do, support their husbands in all they do, oversee the home and children, and organize social functions.
Cecilia hears that Mrs. Amelia Price, president of the Women’s Suffrage Union, will have a rally in Danby. Lady Avebury makes it clear she does not want her daughter involved with those women. Annabel, an heiress who hopes to be engaged to Cecilia’s botanist brother soon, feels that women do not need the vote, they simply need to know the right way of getting what they want from men. Jane is Annabel’s lady’s maid who also helps Cecilia. Jane and Cecilia have become good friends when not under scrutiny of the family, and great sleuthing partners. She wants to attend the rally with Cecilia, but Annabel needs her that evening.
Jesse, one of the footmen, hooks up a cart for Cecilia so she doesn’t have to walk in the dark. Her adventurous cat, Jack, insists on going with Cecilia. He is a special part of her life and makes sure she knows it!
Despite the crowd of hecklers outside before and after the rally, Cecilia is thrilled to hear Amelia Price, and meet her, her secretary, Cora, and Anne, one of her daughters. They invite her to visit them. She can’t possibly turn that down and takes Jane with her. They enjoy Amelia, Anne, and Cora; Amelia said they will extend their stay for another rally and invites Cecilia to return and she will teach her how to ride her bicycle. Before she and Jane leave, Amelia’s estranged daughter, Mary, and her husband Monty arrive at the cottage for a surprise visit.
Both Cecilia and Jane attend the second rally, accompanied by Jack. Cecilia noticed Amelia wasn’t wearing her ever-present huge ruby ring. The next morning when Jane came to Cecilia’s room with her morning tea, she brought the most terrible news. Amelia Price was found dead in their rented cottage that morning. It is thought she fell down the stairs from the sleeping rooms during the night. Anne and Cora, devastated, had slept through it.
Cecilia and Jane immediately went to help Anne and Cora. Amelia’s body hadn’t yet been moved while awaiting investigators. Cecilia noticed that the suffrage banner that Amelia still wore had been torn, with one part missing. The ruby ring was still missing from her hand, and it looked as if one of her arms had been pulled back or had broken in the fall. Cecilia and Jane wanted to support the women however they could and wanted to help find the killer. The bad guy could still be hanging around Danby, or even in London, one of many enemies of the suffrage union.
I love how well we get to know the primary characters, Cecilia and Jane, and even get to know Annabel as more than an American heiress! The characters are developed well throughout, including a potential new suitor for Cecilia. Cecilia is not the typical “Lady”; she is adventurous and not ready to settle for the traditional role of a woman.
There are plot twists that add elements of surprise throughout, as well as discomfort at the threats to the women. I am surprised that Lady Avebury didn’t restrict Cecilia to Danby Hall after hearing at the inquest exactly how she met Amelia and the other ladies. Cecilia is determined to learn the connections Amelia had to at least a couple surprising men in Danby. The drama plays through well and the story moves along quickly. The mystery is a challenge, and Cecilia and I had a couple differences of opinion of who the real bad guy (or gal) is, so there were surprises, as well as some changed relationships in the village. I highly recommend this delightful, challenging mystery!