1773, and John Rawlings, an apothecary from London, and his three children, are heading across the Atlantic to Boston, where a business opportunity awaits him. A storm, however, wreaks the ship he is travelling in and he finds himself with a small group of survivors, a good distance from his destination. As the motley band make their way across the wilderness and they get to know each other, little do they know what to expect when they reach the city.
Rawlings finds himself staying in Boston much longer than he expected, in part due to the presence of an old flame, but soon has other things to think about. As the locals throw the cargo of the English tea clippers into the harbour, one of his fellow travellers falls to their death from the rigging of one of the boats. What was she doing up there in the first place? What secrets was she keeping? And was there someone else up there who threw her to her death?
This is Book Sixteen in this series of Georgian mysteries. I encountered the series once before a long time ago on the blog – Death In The Setting Sun, Book Ten. But then I discovered Paul Doherty and got a bit distracted… But I saw this on NetGalley and thought I’d give it a try. I’d enjoyed the first book, although there were issues. So how was this one?
First off, it’s clearly part of a series, and there is a reasonable amount of back-story concerning Rawlings’ life, his late wife, etc. There’s enough here to make things clear to the reader, but I couldn’t help thinking that long-term readers would get more out of these sections. And there are quite a few such sections as it takes an age to get going. It takes a quarter of the book to even get to Boston and another fifth before the murder takes place. Once it does, then things kick off and the book became much more engrossing to me. The first section is well put together, but this is a murder mystery after all…
Needless to say, nearly everyone who survived the shipwreck ends up hiding something and some parts are telegraphed a little too much. As soon as the identity of someone is raised, the reader’s first thought is probably correct. But the action, once it starts keeps moving forward, and while the mystery isn’t exactly clued, the murderer is still pretty guessable, I thought.
However, despite its flaws as a whodunit, it’s a charmingly written tale, with characters who I’d like to revisit at some point. I’d have preferred a little more background to the political scene in Boston at the time, but that may have made things overly complex. As it stands, it’s a very readable slice of historical mystery fiction. If you like the genre, it’s Well Worth A Look.