The year is 1925, a time that hovers between two catastrophic wars, a time of jazz and sparkle, and a time of peace and reflection. For Lady Evelyn, struggling to outrun the ghosts of her tragic past, it is a time of transformation. Left orphaned after a fire when she was only four, Lady Evelyn Carlisle was raised in London by her stern aunt and uncle. Now, twenty years later she has grown restless and is keen to escape her chaperone's grasp. A letter from her cousin, Briony, living with her husband on Crete, comes at just the right time. Packing what she can, Lady Evelyn makes off for foreign shores.
Welcoming her are not only Briony and her husband, Jeffrey, but also his handsome and mysterious friends, Caspar Ballantine and Daniel Harper. Though the latter carries with him tragic memories of the Great War, Evelyn is glad to be in their company. With the sun warming her back and the dazzling sea in her sights, this fresh start seems destined for happy days ahead. Little does she know . . . What starts off as a sunny holiday quickly turns into a sinister nightmare, when Evelyn stumbles across the corpse of one of her cousin's houseguests. Drawn into the mystery surrounding the murder, Evelyn embarks on a mission to discover the truth, forcing her to face her own past as well as a cold-hearted killer. With the help of her cousin, the handsome local police detective, and the mysterious Daniel Harper, will she uncover the truth, before another life is claimed?
With A Poisonous Journey, I am reminded of the quote from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own neighborhood, then she must seek them abroad.”
The story opens with Lady Evelyn accepting an invitation to come stay with her cousin and her husband in Greece for an extended holiday. Lady Evelyn sneaks out of her aunt’s home leaving a letter behind of her intentions. She sees this not just as an opportunity for a holiday away from dreary rainy London, but a chance to get out from under her aunt’s oppressive thumb and live a little.
Briony and Jeffrey’s Greek Island home is an exotic paradise, but Evelyn doesn’t miss the undercurrents and tensions among their other vacationing guests who are friends of Jeffrey’s, their dinner guests, and even with Briony and Jeffrey themselves. So, it is a shock when a guest is murdered, but not entirely unexpected.
Evelyn is determined to see things through to the truth and perniciously follows each clue she comes across and attempts her own witness interrogations which of course the local police find interfering and her own household isn’t sure a good idea though the dead man’s friend agrees to a detecting partnership to avenge his friend’s killer. Only, Evelyn isn’t entirely sure that her partner is innocent either…
One of my favorite plots for an old-style historical romantic suspense reminiscent of Victoria Holt or Mary Stewart is a young, determined lady who finds herself on a travel adventure when a murder happens. Lady Evelyn has lived a sheltered and confined life up until this point. She longs to prove herself so in some ways this is a coming of age story more than anything else.
I had fun getting to know the intrepid heroine who has sense, but it is the sense of youth who is convinced that only they can know best and must learn to temper speech and actions before rushing impulsively forward. She has a kind heart and a curious mind. And best of all, she is a prize snoop, but a loyal friend
The author did a worthy job of creating her cast of characters and the mystery. Loved that it was set in Post-WWI Crete. Local color along with historical situation added just the right balance to the mystery. There is a murder and the ugliness behind the victim and the situation comes out to reveal more motives and a surprise reveal.
Evelyn is out in the world for the first time and up to her neck in a murder mystery so the tentative awakening romance is just that. She barely realizes that is what is happening and I liked that it was just a whiff of something that, along with her maturing in her own, will come along slowly with the series.
All in all, I enjoyed this first outing with a new to me author and new series. I look forward to more of Lady Evelyn’s mystery adventures and a growing romance. I can easily recommend A Poisonous Journey to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a heroine detective who will grow as the series progresses.
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.