Publication date: 1 Dec, 2021
Length: 320 pages
Standalone first book in a series
Is murdering husbands an addiction or merely a bad habit?
This is the question facing Private Investigator Cat Harrington when rich builder, Tom Drayton, dies shortly after his wedding night. Suspicion falls on his widow, Anastasia Rodriguez, the survivor of three previous ‘lost’ husbands.
Two years later, Anastasia is engaged again, to Cat’s friend Angelo, an Italian snail collector.
Angelo’s sister, Gia, employs Cat and the SeeMs Detective Agency to discover if her brother’s financé is a killer.
The search for Anastasia’s lost husbands takes Cat and her team from Scotland to the South of Spain and on to Argentina.
They have just a few weeks before the wedding to discover if Anastasia is a murderer and save their friend from becoming victim number five.
For fans of Arsenic and Old Lace and The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency
I enjoyed the languorous pace of The Mystery of the Lost Husbands, but in seeking to squeeze in too many extraneous details into one book the momentum of the narrative is lost.
The story alternates between a young Anastasia’s point of view and the present as seen through the eyes of the trio – Cat, Miranda, and Stevie. (Anastasia is the supposed husband-killer and the trio of women are detectives of the SeeMS agency hired to investigate Anastasia’s past.) Both sets of characters meet in the same timeline and the mystery is unraveled in the present, decades after the murders were committed.
The author has taken great pains to research her story and present accurate details around oil rigs, deep-sea diving, flying, photography, winery, and biochemistry.
Flying enthusiasts will enjoy the details of Stevie’s adventures on her Tiger Moth and Clement’s daredevil helicopter rides, but ignorant readers like me will have to Google to understand those bits.
I found the contrast drawn between life in the 70s (without mobile phones and the Internet) and modern life fascinating. Stevie had to dig through information for times when all records were on paper and not necessarily stored properly or subsequently digitized. I could sense what a challenge it was. Whereas the ladies could easily find photographs of Anastasia’s fourth wedding on Instagram and deduce who had attended it.
The element of danger and/or thrill that keeps readers on edge was missing. It felt more like a saga rather than a crime fiction.
Since this is the first of a series of books, I felt the author could have left out some of the flashbacks into Cat, Miranda, and Stevie’s past. It could have been explored in subsequent books. Coupled with the alternate POV of Anastasia and the trio, these flashbacks added more characters, details, and confusion to the plot.
The Mystery of the Lost Husbands is quite compelling in parts because of the “did she or didn’t she” element and the excellent background details that give us a sense of Anastasia’s immigrant life and a jet-setting lifestyle.
(I received an e-copy from Rachel’s Random Resources with a request for an honest review.)
Author Bio –
Gina has worked as a physiotherapist, a pilot, freelance writer and a dog breeder.
As a child, Gina’s parents hated travelling and never went further than Jersey. As a result she became travel-addicted and spent the year after university bumming around SE Asia, China and Australia, where she worked in a racing stables in Pinjarra, South of Perth. After getting stuck in black sand in the Ute one time too many (and getting a tractor and trailer caught in a tree) she was relegated to horse-riding work only. After her horse bolted down the sand, straining a fetlock and falling in the sea, she was further relegated to swimming the horses only in the pool. It was with some relief the racehorse stables posted her off on the train into eastern Australia to work in a vineyard… after all what could go wrong there?
In the north of Thailand, she took a boat into the Golden Triangle and got shot at by bandits. Her group escaped into the undergrowth and hid in a hill tribe whisky still where they shared the ‘bathroom’ with a group of pigs. Getting a lift on a motorbike they hurried back to Chiang Rai, where life seemed calmer.
After nearly being downed in a fiesta in Ko Pha Ngan, and cursed by a witch in Malaysia, she decided to go to Singapore and then to China where she only had to battle with the language and regulations.
Since marrying the first time, she has lived and worked in many countries including Spain and the USA.
For a few years Gina was a Wingwalking pilot, flying, amongst others, her 64-year-old mother standing on the wing to raise money for a cancer charity. She was also a helicopter instructor and examiner and took part in the World Helicopter Championships in Russia and the USA.
She became a writer because her first love was always telling a good yarn!
Under the name Georgina Hunter-Jones she has written illustrated children’s books such as The Twerple who had Too Many Brains, and Nola the Rhinoceros loves Mathematics.
She now lives in Sussex with her husband and dogs, one of who inspired the Biscuit and Pugwash Detective Series about naughty dogs who solve crimes.
The Mystery of the Lost Husbands is the first in the SeeMS Detective Agency series and Gina’s first crime novel for adults.
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