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The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden

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Third book in the historical mystery series featuring Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, widow of a clergyman and enquiry agent.  At the request of a friend, and eager to earn some much needed money to help sustain her household, Laetitia agrees to help arrange some final preparations for a settlement agreement between famous actor/manager Thomas Transome and his estranged wife. While working with the couple to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, Laetitia uncovers some scandals, the most shocking of which is a long buried body in the theater being renovated by Transome's son in law and daughter. When another murder occurs soon after, the entire family is thrown under suspicion.   Thrust into a world of intense drama and intrigue, Laetitia puts her investigative skills to work, assisting Inspector Blackbeard in his investigation.  As the pair uncover clues and gather information pertaining to the victim and suspects, it seems that just about everyone in the world of theater has something to hide.  Will they successfully uncover the identity of the killer before another innocent bystander becomes their next victim? 

The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden is the third book in the historical mystery series featuring Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, widow of a clergyman and enquiry agent. Mrs Laetitia Rodd is a fascinating study in juxtaposition as she is governed by a very strict sense of right and wrong that guides her behavior, however she is also incredibly kind and giving, always willing to jump in and assist those in need, even those she views as immoral.  The Victorian theater setting gave us a nice peek into the world of theater during the 19th century, a time of great change and upheaval for the world of drama. The scandal and drama was definitely on the more intense side, given the setting, which only adds to the enjoyment level.   The period details are cleverly interwoven into the plot, bringing Victorian London to life and showcasing the author's meticulous research.  The mystery was well plotted and paced, with the clues unfolding slowly over the course of the investigation.  I recommend all fans of history mysteries check out The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden.
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I received this book for free for an honest review from netgalley 

This book was hard for me to get into it first but then it turned out to be a really wonderful read I'm glad I stuck it out.
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A good book but it seemed to drag a bit in the middle.  There just wasn't much oomph and frankly, I got bored.  The overall story is good and the characters are interesting and well written.  I just thought it dragged on too much.
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Laetitia Rodd, gentile widow, has set up as a discreet private enquiry agent who solves problems without letting the possible ruinous rumors out.  She is brought in to manage a separation agreement between a wife and her actor/manager husband who wants to set up with a young actress mistress.  People start dying including the manager.  Scandals start dropping into the public record.  How can Laetitia bring order to this murderous tale.?  Enjoy 1853 English murder among actors.
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The third book in the Letitia Rodd series finds the vicar’s widow nursing her landlady back to health.  Poor Mrs. B has been sick for a very long time and it has depleted the household finances.  Mrs. Rodd cant’ be choosy about cases and no Mr. Tully a retired actor asks for her help..  Usually church people stay away from the theater because at that time they were a very racy lot.  Mrs. Rodd agrees to act as a go between for a wife and her husband to come to a settlement in a divorce.  She learns that the husband has asked her lawyer brother to act on his behalf. So Letty and Fred and trying to get the couple to agree on a settlement that will allow Mrs. Sarah to live in comfort the rest of his days so Tom can marry his new leading lady in his theater.  
Many scandals are uncovered during this time, included a dead body under the floor of Tom’s old theater that is being renovated by his oldest daughter and her new husband.  Then a new murder occurs.  Mrs. Rodd, and Fred are joined by old friend and Scotland Yard detective Blackbeard.  Can they solve both murders and help Mrs. Sarah find a comfortable life away from theater she has known all her life?  This one is twisty turny and it seems everyone is hiding something.  Can they sift through the lies and find the truth to solve bother murders.  

A great series for fans of Father Brown.
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I want to thank Netgalley and the author for gifting me the audio version. Oh gosh I just want to give a clap for the author! Kate did an amazing job writing this story! I absolutely love the feel of this book. It is like I am reading a book written over a hundred years ago. It kept my interest and a great murder mysteries. Highly recommend!
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In this third book of the series, Laetitia Rodd,, private investigator, gets called into the theater world to help solve a mystery. She Is very clever and not easily shocked or spooked. The theater world is chock full of all sorts of quirky characters and some of dubious distinction, so it is a perfect setting for a mystery.
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This is the 3rd installment of the Laetitia Rodd mysteries. Set in 1853 London, Mrs. Rodd is a widow of limited means. To make ends meet she hires herself out as an investigator. This time around, she is tasked with obtaining a settlement for Sarah Transome, the wife of actor and theatre owner Thomas Transome. Thomas has decided to leave his wife of many years for a much younger actress who he has hired to play Juliet to his Romeo. Sarah and Thomas' three grown daughters seem to be taking their father's side. Despite her hesitancy to lowering herself to work with "actors", Laetitia works out a settlement agreement between the two parties.  All seems well until a body is discovered in a theatre that burned down 10 years ago. Who was the owner of that theatre? None other than Thomas Transome.

Dripping with Victorian atmosphere; rich with details about the theatre and the actors life during that time period; and an intelligent and resourceful main character; this addition to the series is engaging and well plotted. Laetitia's barrister brother lends some humor and lightness to the story, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.
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CW: sexual assault 

Mrs Rodd, respectable enquiry agent in Victorian London, becomes involved with a theatrical family when hired to negotiate a separation settlement between famous actor-manager Thomas Transome, who has fallen in love with a young actress in his company, and his estranged wife. When a body is then discovered during renovations made to his new theatre by Transome’s son-in-law, bringing to light a murder committed when Transome operated the theatre, the entire family is under suspicion. Mrs Rodd assists the police to ensure that the correct person is condemned for the crime.

▪	Mrs Rodd is a very distinctive main character. I love how proper and Victorian she is. As the widow of a clergyman, she has very strict notions of what is acceptable (socially as well as religiously), but she is also unfailingly kind and forgiving when faced with people who have done things she morally disapproves of. The mix of these two almost opposites in her first person narration make her an easily lovable character. 

▪	The police detective. As is often the case when the main detective is not a police detective, Mrs Rodd often works with one particular detective who has great respect for her abilities while he resents her implication in his cases. These two have such different styles and personalities that it is amazing how well they work together. 

▪	Victorian theatre. The novel is set in the theatre world of the early 19th century, when it was undergoing a transformation from a rowdy, disreputable place to the more refined and codified place it often is today. I learned a fair bit about this period in the course of my Shakespeare studies, so it was even more pleasurable to visit the theatres and go behind the scenes in this fictionalized version. 

▪	Warring acting families. At the heart of the mystery is the feud between the two main acting families: the Transomes and the Bettertons. The rivalries, intermarriages, defections from one group to join the other, all enhance the mystery by widening the pool of suspects. Plus it’s a lot of fun.

▪	Narrative style. The narrator is Mrs Rodd writing from a point in the future about her investigation. It makes for a different reading experience, full of foreshadowing, which makes you keep turning to the next chapter. It is very efficient, and reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes tales written up either by Watson or Holmes himself.

▪	Mrs Rodd is much more naive than a 21st century reader. This is not necessarily a bad thing, except in one instance: you will probably guess one element of the mystery very early while Mrs Rodd will only learn of it at the very end, which may make you want to shake her. (Yes, I may be projecting a bit.) It is infuriating, while completely in character.
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NOTE: Publishing 12/3/2021

One of the reasons I started this blog was because most review sites, nay 95% of them, tend to give you a re-written summary of the book and maybe a personal thought or two. Rarely happens and I'm surprised when it does. (Also, places that offer "reviews" such as Kirkus, Pub Weekly, and so forth do the same damn thing.)

And it's disheartening reading those online reviews because surely I must have missed something if I don't have the same reaction, or even close to the reaction, as other reviewers. (People on Goodreads tend to be more open and forthwith with their thoughts on such things.)

Maybe my taste is that much different? Sometimes it feels like I'm being purposely contrarian to those around me but truly, if I don't dig into a book, then why bother writing frothy reviews of it, let alone finish it?

Now that that preamble is out of the way, I've been in a cozy mystery mood for some time now and this showed up in Netgalley as right up my alley and I took the chance.

Kirkus says,

The fastidious manners, which fit the 19th-century setting, are leavened with enough humor to suit modern tastes.

Are we even reading the same book?


I found the plot and pace slow. I read Victorian lit in college and I do not recall works dragging their feet. The mood of The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden seems to be on Victorian brand, though a little heavy handed, and the character development was mostly well thought out but I kept waiting for the pace to pick and carry on with the story. It just wasn't happening. I found myself flipping through my Kindle pages with dry expectations. I felt like I was reading in Jello and there were no marshmallows or canned fruit in it to liven it up.

Goodreads' reviews indicate that many who are fans of the series who find it charming and droll, which I don't see but whatever, but they do note that this book isn't as charming as the first two so it very well could be I picked a wrong place to start. But what I read was enough to note that I probably won't pick up the first two. Saunders is also known for her historical biographies so that may be on the pile first.

tl;dr Slow paced and not quite as funny as proclaimed, only worthy if you're a fan of the series and want a bit more.
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Laetitia, a widow, finds herself working a a detective in 1853- it's preferable to serving as governess to her brother's many children.  She didn't however, expect to finds herself in the middle of a divorce of two theater people, divorce being uncommon in the period and theater people being alien to her.  She quickly discovers, however, that there's more afoot than she expected and then a body is discovered!  Luckily Inspector Thomas Blackbeard is willing to allow her to work with him.  This got a tad convoluted in. spots but it wasn't hard to follow.  I enjoyed spending time with Laetitia, an intrepid Victorian era woman,  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  I'd not read the earlier books in the series and this was fine as a standalone.
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Murder mystery with a heavy dose of stiff moralizing. Not for me, I ended up skimming.

It was not easy to get into, it felt like a chore from the start, and Mrs. Rodd's judgmental moralizing never ceases no matter how much she claims to not judge. One could argue it rings true for a vicar's widow in the 1850s but not usual from the genre generally and it was too much.
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For readers who enjoy a fantastic female sleuth, an authentic historical setting, and a fun cozy mystery, this is the perfect book to recommend. It is the third in a series, but these titles truly stand alone. However, I truly believe that anyone who reads at least one of these books will want to read them all.
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"The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden" is the third outing for Laetitia Rodd. Her clergyman husband's death left her to earn her living, and she has embarked on a career as a private detective. 

I've thoroughly enjoyed the series to date, and this story is no exception. Laetitia is asked by a neighbor, who is a retired actor, to assist in making a divorce settlement between a fellow actor and his wife. As it turns out, Laetitia's brother is representing the husband, and welcomes her assistance. Not Laetitia's usual fare, but it's a paycheck, if either party truly has any money to spare.

But old sins cast long shadows, and the discovery of the body of a man who disappeared ten years ago plunges Laetitia into a murder investigation and crosses her path with that of Inspector Blackbeard once again, who, while willing to assist Laetitia, is still somewhat dismissive of her conclusions.

Laetitia is a well-drawn character. She is consistent and readers will cheer her on as she works to keep her independence and her modest living as a working woman in the mid-1800s. Her brother swoops in on a semi-regular basis, and we don't know a great deal about him, his wife, or their ever-increasing brood of children. 

Inspector Blackbeard, who is also widowed, may or may not become a love interest. For now, it's enough to see them gain respect and understanding of each other, and assist each other in investigations. 

Now, while I enjoyed it, I will say I figured out the motive well ahead of Laetitia, and honestly, as a clergyman's wife, she should have seen this type of scandal before. Her naivety as a bit surprising, and caused the book to drag a bit. It's not quite as strong as the first two in the series, but I still highly recommend it and am impatiently waiting for the fourth book.

I received an advance copy from Bloomsbury Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This review, and reviews for other titles, appears on Goodreads and my book blog:
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This novel is a mystery set in 1853 in England. This is the third book in the series, but it works as a stand alone. Laetitia was well-meaning and had some progressive views, but she generally reflected the current (1850s England) culture. The characters were interesting and reacted realistically to events. Historical details were woven into the story, creating a distinct sense of time and place without slowing the pacing. I appreciate that the author did enough research to get those historical details accurate. Laetitia and the detective on the case were friends and worked well together to uncover clues and gather information. Some pieces of the mystery were more obvious than others, and the critical clue pointing to whodunit didn't come until nearly the end. At that point, Laetitia understood who but still had to find a way to prove it.

There were no sex scenes, though there were a lot of people meeting lovers and having babies. There were only a few uses of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical mystery.
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3.75 stars
This enjoyable series is set in mid 19th century England and features Laetitia Rodd, a clergyman's widow, who helps her lawyer brother investigate cases. Laetitia is remarkably noon-judgmental given her background and the setting, and this case tests her limits.

She is thrown into the world of the theater -- and at that time, actor and actresses were looked upon with great disfavor and considered to be immoral. A famous theatrical family has become a giant soap opera: infidelities, family jealousies, out of wedlock pregnancies, threats, and elopements have split the family into factions. The discovery of a body at the theater, murdered years ago, sets a whole new series of actions into motions. And since no one in the family seems able to tell the truth, false confessions and made up alibis muddy the waters.

Laetitia is an appealing character and her relationship and interactions with her brother are appealing. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a great cozy mystery! It’s a very well written novel with lots of depth and substance to the writing. I loved all the details about life in the theater which was very interesting. Both characters and plot kept me entertained and interested throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this mystery!!
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1853 Laetitia Rodd, widow of an Archdeacon is asked to help in the negotiations between theatre owner and actor, Thomas Transome, and his wife Sarah. Inspector Blackbeard comes into the situation when a body is discovered in the King’s Theatre, which burnt down ten years previously when Transome owned it. What could be the motive and who is the guilty party, and will this be the only murder.
An entertaining and well-written cozy Victorian mystery with its likeable characters. The novel can easily be read as a standalone story and is a good addition to the series.
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden is the third book starring private investigator Laetitia Rodd, widow of an archdeacon in Victorian London. Mrs Rudd is an indomitable lady who often puts herself in situations one would not expect from a middle age maiden. Upon her husband's death it was assumed Mrs Rudd would move in with her brother and become an unpaid governess to his seven children. Although she loves her brother and his family she also loves her independence. So as a source of income she becomes a private investigator. These books may be classified as cozy mysteries but the stories are often complex as we see in this book. It is a twisted tale involving the theater and a cast of several feuding families. I thoroughly enjoy Mrs Rudd and think I would enjoy being her friend and neighbor in real life. Hoping there will be a book four in this series.
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