I found a great new historical mystery series! I enjoyed this one a lot, and the characters are really well drawn and interesting. Nell Sweeney works as a governess for the Hewitt family taking care of their adopted baby daughter Gracie, who she loves as her own. The Hewitt’s find out their eldest son, believed to have died at Andersonville prison during the war, is alive, in Boston, and charged with murder. Viola Hewitt begs Nell to act as her agent and investigate the matter. Even though Will was caught red-handed in the act of murder (literally), Nell begins having her doubts about his guilt. But then why is Will not protesting his innocence, and why does he seem so resigned to hang for the crime?
The characters here are all imperfect. Nell has a secret past she keeps hidden. William is addicted to opium and unwilling to break the habit. Mrs. Hewitt is much like mothers everywhere – she has made mistakes in raising her children, but she loves them all dearly and would do anything to help them. Mr. Hewitt is particularly odious and comes off as hard and cold as a father, and repressive and patronizing as a husband.
Nell didn’t instantly trust William and believe him to be a good man. She doubted his guilt, but only because of the lack of evidence. But due to the circumstantial evidence she also doubted his innocence. More than anyone else in the story she used clearheaded thinking and analytical skills in investigating the crime.
I’m sure I will be going through the rest of the series fairly quickly.