A clever Regency sleuth is much like Jane Austen with her ability to see that the mundane things of life are more important than they seem.
Due to a family reversal of fortunes Dido Kent is residing with her brother Frank and sister-in-law Margaret. Although Margaret does not treat her well, the neighborhood provides plenty of entertainment for her active mind, especially the residents of Madderstone Abbey, which is reputed to be the home of a ghost known as the Grey Nun. Although one of Dido’s acquaintances, the beautiful Penelope, is hurt in a fall at the ruined abbey, it is the shocking discovery of a body in the ornamental lake that arouses Dido’s curiosity. The property owners are the Harmon-Footes and the body proves to be that of Miss Fenn, a governess who had vanished years ago. The coroner’s jury declares Miss Fenn a suicide, the minister has refused her burial in the churchyard and Mrs. Harman-Foote begs Dido to look into the case refusing to believe her beloved governess killed herself. Dido ponders the strange behavior of a naval man who seeks to attach himself to both the lovely Penelope and the wealthy Lucy, the landscape architect who drained the lake without permission and the local doctor who conducts strange experiments. Dido is also dealing with a marriage proposal from Mr. William Lomax (A Gentleman of Fortune, 2011, etc.), a man she could love but fears she cannot marry because he disapproves of her independent ways as dangerous. Dido manages to solve a very complicated mystery but can she find happiness with her suitor?
The third in Dean’s series is another delight, complete with perfect regency prose and an excellent mystery.