The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton
Narrator: Michael Page
Series: Detective Lavender Mysteries #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on June 9, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 9 hrs 16 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Northumberland, November 1809: A menacing figure stalks women through Hareshaw Woods and a beautiful, young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.

The townsfolk cry 'witchcraft' and the local constabulary are baffled.
Fearing for her safety, Helen Carnaby's worried uncle sends out for help from Bow Street magistrates' court in London. Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods now face their toughest and most dangerous case. The servants and the local gypsies won’t speak to them, Helen’s siblings are sly and uncooperative and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.

Isolated in this beautiful but remote community, Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud and are alarmed to discover a sinister world of madness and violence lurking behind the heavy oak door of the ancient pele tower at Linn Hagh. Helen Carnaby's disappearance is to prove one of the most perplexing mysteries of Lavender's career.

Why did she flee on that wintry October night? How did she get out of her locked bed chamber? And where is she now?

I have a fondness for historical mysteries, so the setting of The Heiress of Linn Hagh caught my attention. It’s a gothic mystery, complete with the rundown manor home, a missing heiress, gypsies, a madwoman, a beautiful Spanish woman and family secrets.

The mystery itself is a little predictable, but I enjoyed seeing Lavender pull all the clues together. I don’t know that Lavender himself is particularly likeable – intelligent, dedicated, tenacious, but perhaps not likeable. He knows it though, and brings Woods along. Woods is more likely to be able to get the non-gentry locals to talk. They are a good pair, each with his own strengths and weaknesses. I wasn’t terribly fond of Lavender’s obsession with the Spanish widow though. She could have been a fascinating character, but Lavender’s lusting felt a bit forced. Woods may have been my favorite of the two. He’s more down-to-earth, friendlier, is a family man. He’s just a solid good guy who will have your back.

The actual plot was rambling and twisting, but in a good way, and I loved the period details. The secondary characters were a mixed lot. Some were well-drawn, like the servants  in the hall; and some were pretty one-dimensional, like the missing woman’s half-siblings, and the missing woman herself, who was almost too perfect.

I listened to the audio version and became absorbed in the story.  The narrator did a good job with all the characters and allowing the dark, rather creepy atmosphere of the book come through.

Good, solid mystery, but the setting stole the show for me. The tone fits the time period, too. It’s not a nail-biting thriller, it’s a slower moving story, with some violence but not enough to put off many readers. I will probably pick up the next in the series.

About Karen Charlton

Karen Charlton writes historical mystery and is also the author of a nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle.’ She has published short stories and numerous articles and reviews in newspapers and magazines. An English graduate and ex-teacher, Karen has led writing workshops and has spoken at a series of literary events across the North of England, where she lives. Karen now writes full-time.

A stalwart of the village pub quiz and a member of a winning team on the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads’, Karen also enjoys the theatre, and she won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for her Murder Mystery Weekends.