Publication Date: 25th Nov 2021
Genre: Historical Mystery (Victorian)
One Liner: Breezy and light cozy mystery collection.
Hester Lynton is back in action in this collection of ten mysteries. Hester is a Victorian female detective with Ivy as her assistant. Hester accepts intriguing cases that make her curious to know more. Being her loyal assistant and sidekick, Ivy does her share of sleuthing to help Hester solve the case.
All ten cases are standalone. There are references to people from other books in the series, but that shouldn’t worry us. These people are recurring characters who act as a catalyst to take the case forward one way or another. It’s Hester and Ivy who do the hard work in every case.
Hester is a smart, sharp, and sensible woman with a touch of recklessness and eccentricity. Ivy is softer and composed, though she’s also prone to sudden bursts of inspiration.
If the blurb sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve read such characters before. Yes! Hester and Ivy are a sort-of tribute to the great Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They belong to the same setting and share similar traits.
However, Hester is a gritty woman and has the smarts to carry the book on her shoulders. It’s comforting to read a collection of cases that are familiar yet new.
The Case of the Fanshaw Inheritance: Deals with a cryptic clue Hester needs to solve to help a young man gain his inheritance. It’s straightforward and interesting.
The Case of the Stolen Leonardo: A painting is stolen just before it needs to be handed over to the buyer. Can Hester help trace it and find the thief? This reminded me a lot about one of Holmes’ cases.
The Case of the Missing Professor: A high-profile professor has gone missing. He’s got something the government and enemies want. But where is he? How can a book with a successful detective not have such a case?
The Mystery of the Locked Room: It’s not suicide, even though the clues point that way. It’s up to Hester and Ivy to find how the crime was committed and by whom. The case takes them to the countryside, of course.
The Adventure of the Diamond Necklace: The Duke’s would-be bride knows who stole the diamond necklace. She needs Hester to get it back for her before the Duke starts to suspect. Will Hester be successful?
The Case of the Kidnapped Schoolboy: A happy little kid goes missing from his own home in the morning. The kidnappers have demanded a ransom, but the mother isn’t letting it go without a fight. Hester and Ivy have to save the boy and maybe even nab the kidnappers.
The Puzzle of the Whitby Housemaid: Hester and Ivy are holidaying in Whitby when they’re approached to accept a case. While it seems harmless at first, Hester soon realizes that there’s something more sinister lurking in the background.
The Case of the Russian Icon: How can Hester provide a solution when the crime is morally wrong but legally untouchable? She’s a great detective for a reason and soon teaches the criminal a lesson. But is the case really over?
The Case of the Naked Clergyman: Hester is asked to help find the reason behind the sudden bursts of peculiar behavior of a retired clergyman. Ivy visits the house posing as the daughter’s friend and gets to work. Will Hester and Ivy solve the case before things get too risky?
The Problem of Oscar Wilde: Yep, it is Oscar Wilde himself requesting Hester’s help when personal letters are stolen and used for blackmail. How does Hester deal with the case and help Wilde?
The cases are a mix of themes, crimes, and people from different strata of society. While most of them are straightforward, a few are complex and intriguing. The danger levers vary, depending on the criminals involved. A couple of stories felt a little too bland, but that was expected in a collection of stories.
However, it was great to see Hester use her revolver. Ivy does her share of shooting, though she admits she needs more practice.
The overall tone of the book is light and almost breezy. It’s a cozy mystery, after all. Nothing too scary or horrific for the readers. The characters have been portrayed well. It was fun to see men assume and take a condescending tone with Hester, only to be put in place by her intelligence and capabilities.
To sum up, The Return of Hester Lynton is an entertaining historical cozy mystery for fans of Holmes and Poirot. There’s no comparison, of course, but the book is worth reading. It serves well as a breather between heavy reads.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Lume Books.
About the Author: Srivalli Rekha is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer. She got a degree in MBA and MA English Literature and chose to become a writer and a poet instead of a corporate professional.