The Red Monarch
By Bella Ellis
Published by Hodder and Stoughton
What it’s about?
The Brontë sisters’ first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her former pupil Lydia Robinson.
Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry’s life.
In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of . . . The Red Monarch.
What I think:
This is the third book in the Bronte Mysteries series and I think it might just be the best one.
The Bronte sisters receive a letter from a friend. Lydia Roxby us in London and desperately needs someone she trusts to help her. Her husband has gone missing having become involved in a deal with a criminal gang in London. She has a week to find the lost jewel, return it to the gangster and save her husband’s life.
The Brontes, accompanied by Branwell, head to London, a place they find both fascinating and repellent.
As they begin to investigate they find themselves drawn deeper into the world of Victorian organised crime: protection, prostitution and poverty. The Brontes are shocked by very little having witness such things in Yorkshore, but even they are taken aback by the juxtaposition between rich and poor and the dangers they face just walking through the city.
The story is complex and multi-layered involving theatres and inns, the rich and poor. The Brontes see the reality of the grim behind the glamour if the capital city.
As with previous books in the series, The different personalities of the sisters are clear and distinc; in this booknit is Anne’s turn to shine as she reveals herself to be a compassionate, optimistic and intelligent woman.
If you like historical fiction and fantastic mysteries you will definitely enjoy this.
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for my gifted copy of The Red Monarch.