cover image Death and the Sisters: A Mary Shelley Mystery

Death and the Sisters: A Mary Shelley Mystery

Heather Redmond. Kensington, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4967-3799-1

A teenage Mary Shelley anchors this wobbly first entry in the latest historical cozy series from Redmond (A Twist of Death). The year is 1814, and 16-year-old Mary Godwin is living in London with her father, his second wife, and her four siblings and stepsiblings. When she isn’t working in the family bookshop or keeping house for her imperious stepmother, Mary and her sisters spend their time swooning over suave poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a regular visitor to their home. After dinner with Percy one night, Mary discovers a dead man on the floor of the bookshop with a knife protruding from his back, and the family summons two police officers to perform a cursory investigation. The victim is identified as Cecil Campbell, an anarchist poet and former classmate of Percy’s. But how did he enter the locked shop, and why was he there? Might Percy be a suspect? Chapters alternate between Mary’s point of view and her stepsister Jane’s, but the two feel largely interchangeable, and the rest of Redmond’s cast is dismayingly one-note. Stilted dialogue (“I am unused to these London manners. I have been in rough Scotland for too long”) and a lack of suspense make matters worse. This misses the mark. Agent: Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary. (Oct.)