A Useful Woman
A Rosalind Thorne Mystery, Book 1
By: Darcie Wilde
Narrated by: Sarah Nichols
Series: Rosalind Thorne Mysteries, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
Release date: 01-10-17
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Genre: Historical Mystery, Woman Sleuth
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0 Overall; Story 4.25; Narration 4.0.
Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society - including who among them is capable of murder.
The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined after her father abandoned the family. To survive in the only world she knew, she began to manage the affairs of some of London society's most influential women, who rely on her wit and discretion. So when artistocratic wastrel Jasper Aimesworth is found dead in London's most exclusive ballroom, Almack's, Rosalind must use her skills and connections to uncover the killer from a list of suspects that includes Almack's powerful patronesses and her former suitor Devon Winterbourne, now Lord Casselmain.
Torn between her old love and a growing attraction to a compelling Bow Street runner, Rosalind must unravel the mysteries surrounding Jasper's death, and the mysteries of her own heart as well.
©2016 Darcie Wilde (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Rosalind Thorne is the daughter of a baronet and minor heiress who is fully part of London society until her father abandoned the family leaving her mother and Rosalind to face the debtors. Rather than retire from society, Rosalind makes herself a ‘useful’ woman by helping to manage affairs of society’s most influential women, making their parties successful, helping them to avoid scandal, and guiding opinion through manipulating news and gossip.
While Rosalind is helping her godmother, one of the patronesses of Almack’s, Rosalind peaks into the ballroom at Almack’s and finds aristocrat Jasper Aimesworth dead below the music balcony. The Almack’s patronesses are quick to label the event as a tragic accident but Rosalind suspects something more nefarious. Rosalind herself may be suspected as is the young man’s best friend, Rosalind’s former suitor, now Lord Casselmain.
Casselmain is about to become engaged to the dead man’s sister who usually has no time for Rosalind. The sister, convinced this was no accident, seeks Rosalind’s help to find the killer. Rosalind is hoping to protect Casselmain while agreeing to help the dogged Bow Street detective weave the narrow paths of society. Day by day Rosalind realizes that everyone seems to be hiding secrets that she needs to break through to find the truth.
I liked Rosalind’s character, particularly for standing firm and persevering through traumatic and difficult circumstances. This wasn’t as light as some historical mysteries, but my attention was engaged by the good twists as Rosalind uncovers clues and secrets to discover motives and reveal the killer. The story is rich with detail of the era and navigating the haut ton. I also like that there was no sex but just a nice potential for closer relationships for Rosalind. I will look to read (listen to) more in the series. I recommend this to fans of Victorian mystery.
Audio Notes: Sarah Nichols provided good accents although the voices of male and female could have been more distinct. She did manage to convey the heroine’s aside thoughts fairly clearly. Audio makes it easier for me to get through the story considering my work and life schedule, so I was okay with the narration.
Source: December 2021 Audible Plus Catalog. This qualifies for 2023TBR, 2023Audiobook, and 2023Alphabet goal.