Legacy of Death

Severn House. (Matthew Rowsley Victorian Mystery, Bk. 2). Mar. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780727889393. $28.99. M
Thorncroft Estate in Shropshire, England, has taken some hits in recent years, first from an unscrupulous land agent, and now because Lord Croft suffers from mental illness. The trustees gather to ensure that the long-term needs of the estate are met. One of the trustees, Matthew Rowsley, is now the land agent, and his wife and fellow trustee, Harriet, has been housekeeper for years. The estate is in an uproar even before the putative heir arrives from Australia. Men breaking ground for new tenant cottages uncover what could be Roman ruins on the estate, and a butler is beaten almost to death. Matthew and Harriet step in to investigate. Is the man who arrives actually the heir? The tenants wonder about their future, as all progress ceases because of the archeological findings. Then, another butler is attacked away from the estate. Harriet and Matthew must match wits with an unscrupulous, violent criminal.
VERDICT Book two in this series is a slow-paced, old-fashioned account of estate life in Victorian England. The mystery takes second place to the social commentary about education, social conditions, and class. Only for those interested in the living conditions in late–1800s England.
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