Title: Bellfield Hall: Or, the Observations of Miss Dido Kent
Author: Anna Dean
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Miss Dido Kent is heading towards spinsterhood since she is twenty-eight and unmarried. She loves her niece Catherine, so when Dido receives word that Catherine’s new fiancé, Richard Montague, has upset her, she travels to Bellfield Hall, home of the Montague family. There, she discovers that Richard has secretly broken off his engagement to Catherine under mysterious circumstances and has since disappeared. What’s more, the dead body of a woman is discovered in the garden. Could these two mysterious occurrences be related? Dido is determined to find out.
Historical mysteries with female amateur sleuths seem to be popular lately, and Miss Dido Kent is a worthy addition to their ranks. She is smart, savvy, and very resourceful. She is very sure of and pleased with herself, especially when she deduces something about the mystery she is trying to solve. I was endlessly amused by her letters to her sister, extolling her own cleverness. That doesn’t make Dido unlikeable, thankfully, as it’s handled well, but it does give her some great personality and spunk.
Dido is definitely nosy as she tries to solve the mysteries of Bellfield Hall. She virtually cons people into confiding in her, but she does a great job at it. By the end of the novel, she’s a virtual repository of confidences and information, and it makes it easy for her to figure out what has been going on. The overarching mystery is satisfyingly puzzling, leaving the reader guessing at every twist and turn. I didn’t see the final conclusion coming and was happily surprised at what finally happened.
Bellfield Hall is a must for historical mystery lovers. It’s a well-written and clever novel with a fun main character. It’s the first in a series, so hopefully we’ll get to read a lot more about the adventures of Miss Dido Kent.