REVIEW: Peril by Post by Sheri Cobb South
Honeymoon from Hades . . .
The eighth book in the series finds John Pickett bound for England’s scenic Lake District, where an unsigned letter has summoned him for an unspecified reason. Posing as a honeymoon couple, Pickett and his wife Julia, the former Lady Fieldhurst, take a room at the Hart and Hound as the letter instructs him. Once installed there, however, Pickett can do nothing but wait for the anonymous contact to identify himself. A midnight search of the inn’s register seems to identify the innkeeper, Ned Hawkins, as his man, but before Pickett can discover the reason for his summons, Hawkins is pushed from a cliff—surviving the fall only long enough to call Pickett’s attention to the letter in his pocket.
With his contact dead and his only clue a letter containing nothing more than a rambling account of family news, Pickett knows he’s on his own. But that isn’t the worst of his problems: Julia saw the crime being committed, and although she can’t identify the murderer, there is every indication that the killer knows he was seen—and intends to eliminate any possible witnesses.
Amidst a quirky cast of characters including a host of holiday-makers, a bucolic love triangle, an aspiring poet in the Romantic vein, and an old friend of his magistrate, Mr. Colquhoun, Pickett must discover the secret behind that urgent summons before a second, and far more personal, murder is committed.
“Tales out of School” is a freebie short story that fits in between “Mystery Loves Company” and this new book.
Dear Ms. Cobb South,
Wow, it’s almost hard to believe that we’re up to book eight in the John and Julia Pickett mystery series – as well as had a few novellas and short stories added too. I generally don’t follow a series for this length of time, but this one is the exception and I always jump at the chance to discover what twists and turns you’re going to put them through.
Bow Street Magistrate Patrick Colquhoun hands John a case that might not be a case at all. A mysterious, unsigned letter has arrived in London requesting the help of a runner but who sent it and what is to be investigated isn’t mentioned. John and Julia head off to the Lake District posing as a honeymooning couple – John taking his magistrate’s advice to get Julia out as much as possible while he still can.
Once they arrive where specified, nothing happens. Despite subtly, publically identifying himself, no one contacts him. John pokes around some but beyond introducing himself to an acquaintance of Mr. Colquhoun’s and signing up for a subscription assembly – which John dreads as he doesn’t know how to dance – … nothing. ::Regency crickets::
That is until Julia witnesses a murder and John recovers what might be a clue. If only he could make sense of it before the murderer strikes again.
John and Julia are still working out the public aspects of their socially unequal marriage. After a few hiccups during the last book, they are on sound footing personally but the World still looks askance at them as personified by the two innkeepers in town who struggle to quickly “place them” based on their appearance and actions. John still looks to Julia for clues and hints about this world he’s entered and in which she grew up. He’s getting better about not putting his foot in it but still struggles and doubts he will ever feel at ease.
Now he’s got another thing to both be delighted about and worried about. Julia is also making her own plans and plotting contingencies in case things go wrong. I adored the inclusion of the burgeoning poets of the day in the character of one who really ought to hang up his goose quill. The reason John gets summoned remains twisty and turny and as John works out “who dunnit and why,” he and Julia get to revisit how they first met and the agonies John went through trying to absolve the woman he immediately loved.
There are two (?) events to be carried through until the next book. One I hope doesn’t happen and one I can’t wait to see happen. Hopefully John will be able to solve a few cases and snag some bonus pay before then. B