3 out of 4 stars
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Sarah Kedron is a single, independent woman and a respected playwright in Regency England. James Brewster, an aspiring barrister, lands a job as the editor of The Weekly Police News, an upcoming publication under the charge of Sarah’s father. When a young, married aristocrat, Sir Charles Browning, mysteriously vanishes, Sarah and James team up to find out what happened to Charles in The Missing Baronet: A Sarah Kedron Mystery by author Ken Methold.
In the novel, Charles’s disappearance has crucial implications, including the hardship it places on his wife, Celia. Without knowledge of the whereabouts or current welfare of her husband, Celia is unable to see to his financial affairs. This essentially leaves her destitute. Her curious marriage to Charles reflects only one aspect of the social climate this novel touches on.
At first glance, a reader may not get the best sense of the story’s historical period, particularly due to the style of the woman’s dress on the book cover. However, the story itself effectively immerses the reader in the Regency era. While it can be easy for a novel to romanticize the period by focusing mostly on its more glamorous and noble aspects, the author does not take that route here. The characters are faced with the components, causes, and effects of the Regency underworld, especially where it concerns wealthy and titled Englishmen. The social, economic, and political issues of the time, as well as efforts for social reform, add layers and intrigue throughout the story.
Now, aside from the number of technical errors in the book (including punctuation errors), the novel’s style may be a bit problematic in some areas for different readers. The story has an omniscient narrator who often conveys the thoughts of more than one character during a scene. The narration does not carelessly “head hop” between characters in an unclear way, but the scenes do not split between different characters’ points of view. Hence, it could simply take some readers a little while to get used to the flow, if they are unaccustomed to omniscient narration in a single scene.
On a similar note, many readers may prefer a writing style that sticks to the common “show, don’t tell” guideline. The narration in this novel sometimes leans more toward “telling” than “showing.” It tends to spell out what the reader could likely pick up with less literal explanation and more subtlety and verbal illustration. Also, for readers who care deeply about the investigative roles that detectives or sleuths play in mystery novels, it is possible that the resolution of this novel’s plot may be somewhat of a letdown.
Nevertheless, aside from its errors and other potential weaknesses, this is a layered and carefully woven tale. It has distinct characters, and it takes a sharp look into an intriguing period. Therefore, I give The Missing Baronet a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to fans of historical fiction, especially those with an interest in mystery or suspense.
The Missing Baronet
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