Nicola Slade’s Murder Most Welcome

Nicola Slade, 2008

Charlotte, seeking respectability, comfort, and wealth, leads us into this breezy tale set in mid-1800s England.  The first page not only sets the tone but also delivers a practical, wry and engaging protagonist. There is an utterly delightful cast of characters, along with a whispering of things about to go amiss.

While the central character’s goal is clear, and her obstacles well presented, escalation of suspense or sense of urgency did not occur until well past the halfway mark. But once you settle in to this Victorian mystery, you can enjoy the gradual unfolding of action and misdirection of culpability. One of my favorite scenes that captures Charlotte’s character is when Frampton is lying on his bed, near death, and we see the real Charlotte, through her actions, and how she handles this particular situation. It is not what you expect.

While light on tension and character arc, the author clearly has talent in constructing setting, spectacle, and differentiation of characters, with an appreciated wry approach that borders on comedy of manners.  This is an entertaining read, and later revelations promise more to come in the lives of this family.