Olivia Martin, impetuous 19 year old heroine of “Danger at Thatcham Hall” shares many characteristics with Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. She is forthright and courageous and too intelligent to fall in love with every handsome young man she meets.
Early in the first chapter, Olivia finds herself marooned in the alien world of “the Countryside” with an unnerving stranger and tales of maimed animals and a possible murder. She longs to return to London to follow her dreams of success in music but she knows that this is not possible for a young lady with limited funds. Instead she finds herself aiding an infuriating older man, with a mocking smile, to solve the mystery of dangerous events.
But can she trust Nelson Roberts, an ex-army officer, recently trained as a lawyer, who has come to help Lord Thatcham? As readers we soon realise that Nelson is a complex man who wrestles with unpleasant memories from his time in Afghanistan and his motives change as the plot moves forward. Both he and Olivia have put their own lives at danger.
Thatcham Hall is in the reliable hands of Mayhew the butler and Mrs Rivers the housekeeper but some of the other servants seem less trustworthy. The villagers are not very friendly and deep in the wood lives an old lady who brews herbal remedies. The setting is vividly described as each new twist of the plot is gradually revealed.
I cannot fault this well-crafted story which contains all the best ingredients for a mystery, romance and period novel without being in any way derivative. If you pick it up to read you won’t want to put it down.