Bellfield Hall: Or, The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent – Anna Dean

You’d think with a title like that it would be magnificent, right? Eh…not quite.

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“1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard’s shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It’s going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.”

It should be noted that this book was in Ro’s”To get rid of, but only after Sam reads it” pile. I had high hopes for it: eighteenth century, scandalous secrets, a murder mystery – the premise sounded perfect.

Except there was something lacking. I don’t know what. The characters were decent, the story line was well thought out, the writing was okay…but it just couldn’t hold my attention. I described it as not being “compelling”. You know how sometimes you start a book and you ignore everyone and everything around you because you just need to find out what happens next? Not so with this. I got distracted by the outside world so often, it took longer to finish than it should have.

I used to skip through books when I was younger: if I hit a rut, I’d flip forward a handful of pages to see if it got interesting again. Sometimes (I’m ashamed to admit), I’d read the end when I was only halfway through. Presumably to see if my predictions were correct, but also because sometimes I got bored. I haven’t quite kicked the habit, but it hasn’t happened in a while…until a few days ago when I skipped to the end to find out “whodunnit”, went to bed, and the next morning, I honestly couldn’t remember how it was resolved. It just didn’t stick. Which I guess was okay, because then I was surprised when I (officially) read the ending, but not a satisfied surprised. More of a “oh. I see. THAT’S the direction you wanted to go in?” kind of surprised.

As I mentioned, I can’t pinpoint what I didn’t like. The individuals elements were excellent, but, when put together, they just didn’t jive well (do people say “jive” anymore? Because it’s a great word).

All in all, I doubt I’ll read the sequels. Dido was a good character. Sometimes I couldn’t see how she made connections while other times I got frustrated over how long it would take her to solve a simple problem. I suppose that happens in a lot of mystery books, though, so it wasn’t a book-specific problem.

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