A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder

Kensington. (Countess of Harleigh Mystery, Bk. 4). Jul. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781496731609. $26. M
Can an engaged couple’s relationship survive rumor and scandal in Victorian England? Frances Wynn, widowed Countess of Harleigh, has just waved her mother and daughter off to Paris when Inspector Delaney shows up with a young woman in tow, whom he has arrested for throwing a stone at a Russian grand duke. The woman, Irena Teskey, learns that Frances is engaged to the honorable George Hazelton, then claims that in fact she’s Mrs. George Hazelton. Irena also says that she’s the daughter of the czar’s uncle, and that George married her when he rescued her after she was abducted. When George arrives at Frances’s, he denies the marriage but admits that many of Irena’s outlandish claims have a grain of truth. Rumors quickly spread that George is married to Irena while also engaged to Frances. When Frances finds Irena’s strangled body in her garden, George and Frances must battle rumors that George might have killed his “wife.” The amateur sleuths dig into Irena’s stories to find her killer.
VERDICT The American-born countess’s skills in maneuvering as an amateur sleuth in Victorian society are on full display in this charming historical mystery. New readers can easily pick up this fourth in the series (after A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder), and fans will delight in the dramatic conclusion.
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