Searching for Irene by Marlene Bateman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thrilling and wonderful mystery novel. The story takes place in 1920s in a charming Virginia mansion that is full of intrigues, secrets, and brother rivalry.
Anna, a modern secretary, lands a job as a live-in secretary/bookkeeper working for Lawrence Richardson. Lawrence’s older son Tyler is against the idea and is not afraid to show it, meanwhile, his younger brother, Kent, seems to be very happy to have a young and pretty face around the house. Anna is hired to finish the job that was started by a previous secretary, Irene, who suspiciously disappeared. And surprisingly enough – no one seems to care what really happened to Irene. Anna settles in the house, makes herself familiar with the bookkeeping work, gets to know the staff that works at the mansion, and creates a close friendship with Evan and Grace. But one thing doesn’t leave Anna’s mind – what happened to Irene?
During one of Anna’s afternoon rides, the young secretary comes upon a body that is identified as Richardson’s previous secretary – Irene. Coroner’s exam confirms that Irene’s death was not caused by a fall from the horse – she was strangled. Heartbroken Anna makes a promise to her mom – to find who killed Irene, her younger sister. (What!?)
And what a wonderful list of characters we have here:
Lawrence – a patriarch of Richardson family.
Tyler – single father and a widower, whose passion is breading horses. Tyler is in line to inherit Ashton Hall.
Evan – Tyler’s son.
Kent – ladies man, trapped in a marriage that he is trying to escape. Kent is known for his love of farming that causes many of the arguments between him and his brother.
Grace – Kent’s sweet and caring wife, who has not been the same after losing her daughter Rose.
Helen – Tyler’s wannabe wife, who comes from an aristocratic family.
Charles – Richardson family carpenter.
Verla – housekeeper/maid.
Pearl – cook.
Mrs.Calder – Evan’s governess.
Billy – stable worker.
Anna is not the only one in Ashton Hall who has a secret. The young girl has a strange feeling of being watched, she is being pushed down the starts and a note with a black wreath is left on her pillow. Will this be enough to scare Anna away? Anna is convinced that her sister’s murderer is closer, the murdered is an occupant of Ashton Hall.
Meanwhile, Anna manages to still do the job she was hired to complete. In a process, Anna persuades Lawrence to divide the management of the Ashton Hall: horse breeding to Tyler and farming side to Kent, that finally brings a peace between two brothers.
The last few chapters were so thrilling, I was accidentally skipping the lines while reading, that’s how excited I was to get to the end of the book. This is romantic mystery thriller with a fantastic plot. Perfect vacation or evening read.
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