cover image The Mourning Bells: A Lady of Ashes Mystery

The Mourning Bells: A Lady of Ashes Mystery

Christine Trent. Kensington, $15 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-61773-643-8

An intriguing though ghoulish premise sparks Trent’s fourth Victorian whodunit featuring London undertaker Violet Harper (after 2014’s Stolen Remains). Violet, who disapproves of “safety” coffins that enable the mistakenly interred to alert the world above ground that they are still among the living, is stunned to experience just such a phenomenon. On arrival at Brookwood train station in Surrey, Violet, who has been escorting a casket on the journey, hears a bell ringing from another coffin. The bell is attached to a string within reach of the body inside, and the noise prompts her companion to undo the lid, which reveals a disoriented but very much alive man, whose first word is “havfindabang.” That bizarre occurrence proves to be the first of several. Murder soon follows. Trent nicely integrates the Debtors Act of 1869 into the plot, though the dogged, feisty lead unconvincingly bites off more than she can chew. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Apr.)