Pity the poor relation.
When her papa dies, leaving her penniless, Lizzie Martin, with no schooling, no domestic skills and not much in the way of looks, turns to her godfather’s widow, Mrs. Parry, for help. Aunt Parry, as she likes to be called, brings her up from the country to her fashionable London home as her companion, a role for which Lizzie is temperamentally unsuited, since she’s far too curious and outspoken. But in 1864, a girl approaching 30 can’t be too choosy. Lizzie discovers the companion she replaced simply up and disappeared, then sent a note saying she’d eloped. But with whom? That’s the question, especially when the girl’s dead body is found in a house slated to be demolished as the site for a new railway station. Inspector Ben Ross of the Yard, a collier’s son who met Lizzie as a child, is soon on the case. The pair run afoul of a schoolmaster/parson, a foreign-service officer, a hen-pecked son and several unsavory types at the building site. With the aid of a cabdriver, a downstairs maid and a hidden diary, the red herrings are cleared away and romance at length alights in Lizzie’s world.
Accomplished veteran Granger (That Way Murder Lies, 2005, etc.) knows her history and relates it with charm in this peek at Victorian morals and foibles.