Sheri Cobb South

Books: Mystery | Historical

John Pickett: In Milady’s Chamber (2006), A Dead Bore (2008), Family Plot (2014), Dinner Most Deadly (2015)

John Pickett

In Milady’s Chamber (2006)

In Miladys ChamberSet in London in ~1808

Lady Fieldhurst finally decides to take a lover, however, she receives the unpleasant surprise of her husband in her bedroom–murdered.

John Pickett, a new Bow Street Runner, is assigned to the case, although Mr. Colquhoun, his Magistrate, has misgivings about giving a murder case to such a young Runner.

As with many historicals, we don’t get a very happy view of the wedded state.

"Quarrel is too strong a word for it. Certainly we were not in perfect charity with one another, but I believe such a state is not uncommon among married couples."

I enjoyed this book as an escape, but then I only paid $3.99 for it, which seems a reasonable price for a perfectly adequate mystery. If I’d paid more, I probably would have been irritated by things in this book, but for what I paid, it was a pleasant escape, and one I can recommend at that price.

In fact, at that price, I purchased the second book.

Published by Belgrave House/Regency Reads

Rating: 6/10

A Dead Bore (2008)

A Dead BoreSet in Yorkshire in ~1808

Wanting to escape the family of her murdered husband (and the scandal attached to those events) Lady Fieldhurst accepts an invitation to Yorkshire. However, soon after her arrival, the local rector is killed in a fire during a terrible storm, and circumstances lead Lady Fieldhurst to turn to John Pickett, who had cleared her of the murder of her husband) with her suspicions.

I quite appreciated the manner in which the two characters from the last book were brought together again, since there would be no natural way for this to happen in London society. And I liked how John Pickett managed to be incognito in Yorkshire.

The mystery was interesting, although there were again things I might have taken umbrage with, had I paid more than $3.99 for the book, but it was a nice distraction.

I thought she did a very good job with the young teen daughter of the house, portraying that awkward age rather well.

"Why? Don’t you like me?"

"What I like is entirely beside the point. If you were discovered here, particularly at this hour and dressed in such a way, you would be locked in your room and given nothing to eat but bread and water, and I would be thrown out of the house on my, er, ear."

"But—" Miss Susannah’s protest died on her lips, and her eyes widened. "Do you mean people would think you had compromised me?"

Pickett blushed at her frankness but answered with equal candor. "That is exactly what they would think. And, given the circumstances, who could blame them?"

"Well!" declared Miss Susannah, fairly beaming with pride. "That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Now I feel quite grown up!"

That is a young teenage girl, right there.

Published by Belgrave House/Regency Reads

Rating: 6.5/10

Family Plot (2014)

Family PlotSet in Scotland ~1808

Lady Fieldhurst has once again embarrassed her in-laws, and so she is sent to the country with the sons of the new Lord Fieldhurst. (The boys who discovered they were now bastards, as their father was a bigamist, yet still allowed to inherit the viscountcy.)

"And George is not just any man, but the seventh Viscount Fieldhurst. A title, as you must know, covers a multitude of sins."

"How very fortunate for him, for he has certainly committed a multitude of them," Julia muttered.

Because the boys are so unhappy, Julia makes an impulsive decision to change their plans and go to Scotland, so the boys can see the sea. And because Harold, the eldest, is still suffering from his discovered bastardy, they decided to travel under and assumed name–Mrs Pickett and her nephews.

I quite like the nephews. They’re entertaining.

"Can you recall her position?"

"I can!" Edward piped up. "I’m the one who found her. She was lying like this." Without further ado, he flopped down onto the shingle, his head resting on his outstretched arm.

"That’s not right, Ned," Harold told his brother. "It was her left arm that was stretched out, not her right. And her face was hidden, until I turned her over."

"And she didn’t have a ridiculous grin on her face," Robert added, poking Edward in the ribs with the toe of his shoe.

I quite like that, in the end, the boys get something back, after the misery brought down upon them by their father.

At the mention of their mother, the Bertram boys were stunned to see their father’s ill temper give way to shame-faced guilt. With dawning glee, they realized they might exploit this useful tool to gain almost anything their hearts desired.

Good for them!

As for the mystery, I quite enjoyed that as well, even though I saw where it was going.

What irritated me, however, was the last chapter, where the relationship between John Pickett and Julia Fieldhurst is fundamentally changed and yet we are left hanging.

Very, very annoying. I want to read the next book in a series because I enjoyed the previous book, not because we are left with a cliff-hanger.

Published by Five Star Publishing

Rating: 6/10

Dinner Most Deadly (2015)

Dinner Most DeadlySet in London in ~1808

OK. I’m done.

Which is too bad, because I really liked the mysteries. But I despise cliff-hanger endings, and two in a row are my limit.

Lady Fieldhurst has returned from Scotland blue-deviled, so her friend Emily Dunnington has a dinner party to introduce her to some men who might be interested in becoming her lover.

Unfortunately, the man who Emily Dunnington has chosen for her next lover, Sir Reginald Montague, is despised by most of her guests (and seemingly, much of London).

"A tiresome misunderstanding, nothing more. Now we may all be easy again!"

Unfortunately, no one had been easy before, and they were even less so now.

If the murder of Sir Reginald Montague is a shock, Lady Fieldhurst is in for an even more unpleasant surprise when she learns that her rash decision to spend her time in Scotland masquerading is Mrs Pickett means she is actually married to John Pickett.

I really liked the mystery here–the murdered dinner guest, but the way the book ends not with John Pickett’s success in catching the murderer but with further upset in his relationship (or lack there of) with Lady Emily just irritates me to no end.

So I’m done, and it’s really too bad.

Published by Five Star Publishing

Rating: 5/10