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Tuesday 22 December 2015

'Mr Scarletti's Ghost' by Linda Stratmann

Published by The Mystery Press,
7 September 2015.
ISBN 978-0-7509-6050-2

Linda Stratmann has provided an indomitable heroine in Mina Scarletti.  Despite physical problems which have resulted in her small stature Mina has a penetrating intelligence and a rational temperament.  Perhaps because of her size or just in the usual manner of Victorian women to their unmarried daughters her mother, though loving, treats her as if insignificant or inconvenient.

Brighton in 1871 provides a fascinating background for this tale of deceit.   The attitudes of the people we meet as well as the physical surroundings all ring true for the period.   Mina's father had died fairly recently and her mother is still in the throes of Victorian grief - indeed she has developed what we would see as depression.   The arrival on Brighton of a psychic who claims to produce apparitions of the dead certainly rouses Louisa   Scarletti to enthusiasm and her interest in entertaining groups of believers at seances in her drawing room brings her back into normal social intercourse.      

Mina is worried by the battening on the feelings of the bereaved that the medium, Miss Eustace, is perpetrating and by her own conviction that this is all spurious and fraudulent.   She and a group of friends and acquaintances strive to disprove the spiritualists claims but this is very difficult when the victims are so reluctant to lose their connection to beloved people now dead. The story of  Mina is very interesting to follow as she attempts to fight an amorphous enemy.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
This is the first book about Mina Scarletti but Linda  Stratmann has a 5 volume series about Frances Doughty set in Victorian London.

Linda Stratmann was born in the city of Leicester on 4 April 1948. Linda attended Medway Street Infants and Junior School, in the days of the eleven plus, and from there went to Wyggeston Girls Grammar School. Her earliest ambition was to be an astronomer, and she read and wrote a great deal of science fiction. She also read biology, zoology and medicine, and seriously considered a medical career. But by her teens, she had developed an absorbing and life-long interest in true crime, probably taking after her mother who loved to read about famous trials.  Linda I took her A levels and went to Newcastle University in 1971, graduating with first class honours in psychology three years later. She then joined the civil service, and trained to be an Inspector of Taxes.  In 1987, unable to resist the pull of London she moved there, married her second husband, Gary in 1993. In 2001 she left the civil service, and started a new career as a freelance writer and sub-editor, and in 2002 was commissioned to write her first published book on the history of Chloroform.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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