The Secrets of Wishtide is this month’s choice for the U3A Reading Group I belong to and I’m delighted to share my review today. I’m really looking forward to finding out what others in the group thought too.
The Secrets of Wishtide was published by Bloomsbury on 7th July 2016 and is available for purchase through these links.
The Secrets of Wishtide
The first in the delightfully cosy and clever mystery series featuring private detective, Laetitia Rodd.
Winter, 1850. Mrs Laetitia Rodd is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon, living modestly in Hampstead with her landlady Mrs Bentley. She is also a private detective of the utmost discretion.
When her brother Frederick, a criminal barrister, introduces her to Sir James Calderstone, a wealthy and powerful industrialist, she is tasked to investigate the background of an ‘unsuitable’ woman his son intends to marry – a match he is determined to prevent.
In the guise of governess, she travels to the family seat, Wishtide, deep in the frozen Lincolnshire countryside, where she soon discovers that the Calderstones have more to hide than most. As their secrets unfold, the case takes an unpleasant turn when a man is found dead outside a tavern, and Mrs Rodd’s search for the truth takes her from elite drawing rooms to London’s notorious inns and its steaming laundry houses.
My Review of The Secrets of Wishtide
Laetitia Rodd has a mystery to solve.
My goodness, The Secrets of Wishtide is an entertaining read. I thoroughly, thoroughly it. Filled with high Victorian melodrama, plenty of murder and an enormous dash of humour and wit, The Secrets of Wishtide makes for a really fun and immersive read and would translate into fantastic television drama.
Letty is a triumph. Her narrative voice rings through the pages and I loved the occasional moments when she addresses the reader directly, or references her own prejudices and less than perfect behaviours and attitudes, because they really add depth and interest to her character. In a Dickensian world dominated by men and the wealthy, Letty shines like a feminist beacon of the down at heel middle classes. I really rather hope she finds romance in future books in the series – possibly with the taciturn Blackbeard! The conversational style through Letty’s narration is perfect for the book’s setting and era. It feels slightly tongue in cheek and yet completely authentic so that The Secrets of Wishtide is a total treat to read.
Indeed, it is Kate Saunders’s exploration of class, morality, money and hierarchy that give such piquancy to the read. Some characters are deliberately, whilst effectively and endearingly, stereotypical whilst others burst from the expected norms of class and behaviour so that the whole panoply of human life is here. Other themes of identity, trust, betrayal, love and duty add depth and give the narrative layers of interest that I found very entertaining. In fact, The Secrets of Wishtide might be set in the Victorian era with nods to Dickens’s own writing, but it it equally as twisty and modern in plot as any psychological thriller.
And what a plot it is. Crimes abound, suspects swirl and at the heart of the action is the unflappable Laetitia Rudd, gathering her evidence and manipulating interviewees every bit as well as any Poirot or Miss Marples. I had to concentrate to keep up with some of teh events and characters but this is by no means a criticism. It simply added to my enjoyment.
And I really, really enjoyed Kate Saunders’ writing. The Secrets of Wishtide is an absolute cracker of a read. Perfect for cosy crime lovers, it held me captivated, entertained me completely and lifted my spirits. I absolutely recommend it.
About Kate Saunders
Kate Saunders is an English author, actress, and journalist. The daughter of the early public relations advocate Basil Saunders and his journalist wife Betty (née Smith), Saunders has worked for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She, and Cosmopolitan.
She has also been a regular contributor to radio and television, with appearances on the Radio 4 programs Woman’s Hour, Start the Week, and Kaleidoscope. She was, with Sandi Toksvig, a guest on the first episode of the long-running news quiz program Have I Got News For You.
Kate Saunders has also written multiple books for children and for adults.