Sherlock Holmes helps an observant housekeeper solve a baffling mystery.
Victorian widow Charlotte Dodson has confidently managed the quirky staff at Larchbanks for her elderly employer, Sir Arthur Fallowes, a retired military officer. When Fallowes dies, she frets over her financial future, a situation temporarily alleviated by the arrival of the very private Mr. Sigerson, the incognito tenant who spends most of his time sequestered in the library, heretofore Mrs. Dodson’s sanctuary, with a swarm of bees and materials for a book he’s writing about them. Hmm. The tenant and Mrs. Dodson develop a flirtatious, albeit undemonstrative, relationship. Two mysteries disrupt their routine. Fallowes has bequeathed to Mrs. Dodson a famous and priceless gem known as the Orb of Kezir. Unfortunately, it’s hidden somewhere in the house. Every visitor is viewed as a potential thief, making the most ordinary behavior seem suspicious. More distressing is the case of Evaline Hanover, sister of the local vicar, found dead in her home shortly after a visit to Larchbanks. Two tiny puncture wounds in her neck revive rumors of a local vampire. Not only Holmes but Dr. Watson, naturally, come forward in the nick of time to answer each baffling question.
Roberts (Another Fine Mess, 2002, etc.) lets her plot get away from her, but Mrs. Dodson’s sublimely Brontësque narrative entertains.