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Burdess, Wendy - 'The Meticulous Messenger'
Hardback: 224 pages (Apr. 2008) Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd ISBN: 0709085427

What an absolutely corker this enchanting little book is from this new author.

Sensible Wilhelmina Crump and her outrageous cousin Lavinia are in Paris in April 1789. They are bored teenagers, from Chipping Sodbury, that have come in search of potential husbands amongst the French nobility. They are staying with an aunt and uncle and whilst walking through the City to a smart function in their expensive clothes, a sudden storm renders them absolutely soaked. They are rescued from a mob of angry peasants by a French Count in his coach and horses and Lavinia develops a big crush on him. The girls have to leave Paris in a hurry as the French Revolution is about to break and their aunt and uncle accompany them to Calais to obtain a passage on a ship for England.

Before they leave France, their host entrusts Wilhelmina with a letter destined for a contact known only as "The Stag" (perhaps a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel). To Wilhelmina's bewilderment, this proves to be the start of an ever deepening mystery in which she finds herself embroiled.

Who is the this strange person known as "The Stag"? Why is she receiving an ever increasing number of letters that arrive mysteriously in her possession and who is responsible? Why are both the handsome Duke of Linthorpe and the charming Earl of Thurlston acting so strangely? Where is the Comte de Roxford? With her cousin Lavinia's life in danger can Wilhelmina find the answers? Is the author facetiously naming her heroine "Crump" because it is short for crumpet?

The mother and father of Lavinia, Ernest and Clementine, Wilhelmina's uncle and aunt, reminded me of Mr and Mrs Bennett of Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE because they addressed each other formally all the time as "Mr and Mrs Crump" rather than anything more friendly.

This is only the second title from this new author and I'm most pleased that I had the opportunity to read it and I look forward to seeing her future books. It had a refreshing charm and easy readability which made it most enjoyable and the pages just flew by very quickly.

Terry Halligan, England
June 2008

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 3/05/2009 08:55