A bit slow to start, but very enjoyable once it does….
I’ve read and really enjoyed all of the books in Emma Jameson’s Lord and Lady Hetheridge series. So I was happy to receive an advance review copy of the first title in Jameson’s new series featuring Jemima (Jem) Jago and set in the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. And I’m very glad I got a chance to read A Death at Seascape House.
Jem Jago is a Special Collections librarian with a difficult past – at the age of six she was dumped on her grandmother’s doorstep on St. Morwenna by her father after her mother died of cancer. We find out early on that Jem was a “wild child” when young, that she was involved in some sort of incident with tragic consequences, and that she regards one of the island’s residents, Edith Reddy, as the catalyst for her rejection (and her grandmother’s) by the St. Morwenna community after that incident. So when it appears that the most valuable book in the collection Jem has returned to St. Morwenna to catalog has been stolen by Reddy, Jem decides to confront her, but finds her dead instead – a victim of a recent murder. Reddy was a thoroughly unpleasant woman, and there are a number of suspects with cause to wish her ill. However, Jem again turns out to be a convenient scapegoat for the islanders, and author Jameson takes us on a ride through both the past and the present as Jem searches for answers to clear her name of this second tragedy.
I have to admit that it took me a while to warm up to this book, and to Jem herself in particular. I found the hints and allusions in the first few chapters to the earlier mysterious incident to be sort of frustrating, and if this hadn’t been a review copy, I might even have put the book down. But I’m glad I persevered, because the book really picked up once we find out what really happened so long ago, and the story moves into more of a detection/investigation phase. In the end, I enjoyed watching Jem grow throughout the book, making some new friends, and resolving issues with some old ones. And, of course, figuring out whodunnit, which kept me guessing until the end.
All-in-all, after its slow start, I really enjoyed A Death at Seascape House, and I’m looking forward to the new title coming out in August. And hopefully, since the characters are already established, that new book can get off to a quicker start! I tend not to give a lot of 5-star rankings, saving them for a very few of the many books I read, so my 4-star rating is a solid recommendation to read this book. Oh yeah, and Jameson does a wonderful job of portraying the Isles of Scilly, so be forewarned that you’ll find yourself trying to figure out how soon you can visit! And my thanks to the publisher, Bookouture, and to NetGalley for the advance review copy.