In 1805 Dido Kent inhabits a world easily recognizable to readers of Jane Austen. Unmarried at 35, she is regarded as a hopeless spinster and entirely at her family’s disposal to help with illnesses, deaths, lyings in etc. But when the crisis of a niece’s broken engagement summons her to Bellfield Hall – and a dead body is discovered in the shrubbery – Dido finds a much more satisfying outlet for her intelligence.
A woman in her situation is well placed to investigate crime – by patiently noticing all the small details of life, and the character quirks of everyone around her. And, once she has taken on the role of mystery-solver, Dido is very reluctant to give it up. Travelling about for the convenience of her family, she finds mystery everywhere, in country houses, villages, fashionable Bath – even in a ruined abbey. And, wherever she goes, she writes letters to her sister Eliza, describing her investigations. But her fascination with crime may jeopardize her last chance of making a happy marriage.