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Wednesday 17 August 2016

'Mr Scarletti's Ghost' by Linda Stratmann

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

Brighton, 1871. Mediums are all the rage, and Mina Scarletti’s mother has succumbed to the wiles of Miss Eustace, whose dramatic seances exploit the vulnerable. Mina is determined to save her mother, and expose Miss Eustace for the cheat she is ...

I was hooked by this crime novel straight away. Mina Scarlatti is the kind of heroine you want to follow: determined and resourceful, with a vividly drawn family around her: her imperious, insensitive mother, her conventional brother Edward, who sends good advice by letter, and her wayward brother Richard, who flits from one disreputable career to another, and is still engaging in spite of the way he only visits when short of money. Other characters of Brighton society were sharply drawn, and convincingly period: the unctuous healer, Mr Bradley, the gullible Professor Gaskin, and his social-climbing wife, had a wonderfully Dickensian feel to them. The descriptions of Victorian Brighton are vivid, and the plot twists and turns as Mrs Scarlatti and her friends are drawn deeper into Miss Eustace’s coils. The seance exploits are rooted in the mediums of the period, as the references to D D Home show, and wanting to find out how Miss Eustace achieves her effects, and how Mina will expose her, draws us to read on. There are neat final twists, and a satisfying ending.

A thoroughly good read, which takes you back into the world of a sharp and witty heroine solving an entertaining mystery. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
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 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.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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