As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Sapere Books,
20 July 2020. ISBN: 978-1-80055015-5 (PB)
year is 1872 and, in Victorian Brighton, Mina Scarletti has a growing
reputation as an exposer of fake mediums. Mina has no objection to people who
provide comfort to the bereaved for little or no monetary reward, but she
despises those who profit from exploiting the grief of desperate people who
have lost somebody they love. Mina is often requested to investigate sightings
of ghosts and the activities of mediums, however, when a letter arrives from an
anxious mother, concerned that her son claims to be seeing his father’s ghost,
Mina is far too ill to even read it. Mina suffers from scoliosis, and the
resultant curvature of her spine constricts her lungs, this means that when she
gets a cold, the resulting illness comes close to ending her life.
Fortunately, Mina does survive, and
soon discovers the frustration of not being allowed to exert herself mentally
as well as physically. Her nurse, Miss Cherry, is conscientious and considerate
but her determination to read excerpts from an improving and bland volume, The
Young Woman’s Handbook, is something that Mina endures rather than enjoys. Mina
is far more interested in the story that Miss Cherry tells her about the
patient she was with before Mina, a boy called Franklin Holt, who has become
ill with a nervous condition and is afraid to sleep at night because believes
he sees his father’s ghost. Franklin’s father, Jasper Holt, had disappeared seven
years previously after going overboard from a yacht. Holt had just insured his
life for a substantial amount and it was soon discovered that his business was
on the verge of bankruptcy; because of the suspicious circumstances surrounding
his disappearance and the fact that no body was found, the insurance company
refused to pay. Many people’s businesses suffered and there were rumours that
Holt’s wife had been aware of her husband’s fraud. When Mina is allowed to read
her letters, she discovers that one is from Mrs Vardy, who until her recent
marriage, had been Mrs Holt. Unaware of Mina’s illness, Mrs Vardy expresses the
hope that Mina could help her son, who is haunted by his father’s ghost.
Although Mr Holt has been declared legally dead, there is still a possibility
that he is actually alive; however, Mrs Vardy is convinced that he is dead
because a medium, Mrs Barnham, has convinced her of this.
Mina’s freedom of movement has always
been limited by her physical frailty but now cannot go out and question people
at all. Nevertheless, she is consumed by curiosity. Because her mental powers
have always been far stronger than her physical endurance, she already knows
how to make the most of her advantages, and she enlists others to go out and
find information for her. Mina’s actor friend, Marcus Merridew investigates Mrs
Barnham, while her younger brother, Richard, proves surprisingly helpful, due
to his new employment as a photographer’s assistant; her doctor and friend,
Doctor Hamid, and her solicitor, Mr Phipps, also play their parts in the
enquiry. With this assistance and access to newspapers and photographs, Mina
manages to unravel a complex mystery, filled with deceit, fraud and mistaken
identity, without leaving her room.
His Father’s Ghost is the fifth book in the series featuring Mina Scarletti.
It is an intriguing story with an interesting plot, immaculate period detail,
and above all an engaging protagonist who demonstrates that a skilful detective
does not need physical prowess if they have intelligence and determination.
This is an excellent addition to an extremely good series. A very enjoyable
book, which I thoroughly recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Linda Stratmann was born in Leicester in 1948 and first started
scribbling stories and poems at the age of six. She became interested in true
crime when watching Edgar Lustgarten on TV in the 1950s. Linda attended
Wyggeston Girls Grammar School, trained to be a chemist’s dispenser, and later
studied at Newcastle University where she obtained a first in Psychology. She
then spent 27 years in the civil service before leaving to devote her time to
writing. Linda loves spending time in libraries and archives and really enjoys
giving talks on her subject.
Carol Westronis a successful short story writer and a Creative
Writing teacher.She is the moderator
for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the
interview click on the link below.