A Mortal Curiosity

A Mortal Curiosity by Ann Granger. There’s one last Victorian tale to get through before heading back to the world of medieval murders. In this, the second Lizzie Martin mystery, our heroine is sent by her aunt to be companion to a young woman, Lucy Craven, who has recently lost her first child. The mother refuses to believe that the child is dead and the two elderly, reclusive aunts with whom she resides are not supplying any emotional support to help raise her spirits. On the journey to Shore House, Lizzie encounters Dr. Lefebre, who runs an asylum in London, and has been directed to evaluate the situation by the family’s patriarch, who is more interested in business and reputation than the actual well-being of his female relatives. The situation turns ugly when Lucy, prone to hysterical outbursts and suspicious that everyone wants her committed to the doctor’s facility, is found next to a murder victim. Scotland Yard Inspector Benjamin Ross, the young man with whom Lizzie is “walking out,” is called in to conduct a quiet investigation.

Granger’s strength lies in describing locations and their inhabitants. The isolated Shore House and the small hamlet in Hampshire on the southern English coast are vividly portrayed as are its residents. Unfortunately, this descriptive ability does not extend to the two principal characters. Even after two books, Ross and Martin, who act as dual narrators for the stories, are still quite difficult to picture. The pacing and the mystery plot are above average, but not outstanding, and there are few recurring secondary characters, though it is still early in the series.

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