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Bellfield Hall: or, the observations of Miss Dido Kent

(Dido Kent #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,397 ratings  ·  380 reviews
1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard's shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published August 5th 2008)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  2,397 ratings  ·  380 reviews

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Start your review of Bellfield Hall: or, the observations of Miss Dido Kent (A Dido Kent Mystery #1)
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, mystery
It was a quick, easy read, but I cannot rate it higher for a few reasons--which I will get to later in the review.

Dido Kent, spinster, is called upon by her brother to aid her niece whose fiance has had an abrupt change of heart about their upcoming nuptials, and has fled. On the day Dido arrives, a woman is found murdered in the shrubbery of the house. Are the two events connected? Dido is determined to find out.

I actually liked the author's writing style, and the mystery, while easy to figure
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
This was on my paperbackswap wishlist (I don't remember why); it became available, and I pounced. While still in a sort of "I don't care, there's too much crap going on for me to not just read what I want to read" mood I firmly ignored all the Netgalley books clamoring on the sidelines, picked this off the upper slopes of Mount TBR, and settled in.

I loved it from the start. I was a little afraid at first – the Regency period spinster aunt swooping in to Detect felt like a mish-mash of various
First Sentence: My dear Eliza, I must begin another letter to you, although it is not six hours since I sent my last.

Catherine Kent is engaged to Richard Montague. During a special ball at Betsfield Hall, Richard reacts strongly to a red-headed man and then disappears. Catherine’s father sends for his spinster sister, Miss Dido Kent. The same day Dido arrives, the body of a murdered woman is found under a hedge on the property and Dido decides it’s up to her to discover the killer.

Ms. Dean’s wri
This manages to convey reasonably well a genteel female amateur detective, and I was enjoying it fairly well, but at the same time, kept tripping over small things that bugged me.

Dido is quite judgmental toward the people she meets (although interestingly proved wrong at times, for various reasons), and sometimes just came across as not a very enjoyable person to be around. I didn't like what I think was meant to be a comedic dramatic irony regarding the Colonel (where the audience understands h
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Miss Dido Kent is a spinster, she never married but she comes from a big family and her brothers occasionally ask for her help when dealing with their children. She has a special fondness for her niece Catherine who lived with her for a while when she was a young child and when she asks for her help Dido runs to her side.

Catherine had just become engaged when, during the celebratory ball at his parent’s estate, Bellfield Hall, the fiancé is approached by a mysterious man who, without a word bei
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Miss Dido Kent, respectable spinster, has been asked to Bellfield Hall by her niece Catherine, who wants her aunt to figure out a few things. Mainly, where her fiance Richard Montague has disappeared to and why he broke their engagement after a wordless exchange with a mysterious man. Dido also wants to figure out who the dead woman in the shrubbery is. So she begins to ask questions and unravels the secrets of the guests and inhabitants of Bellfield Hall one by one.

The author seems to have bas
1.5 stars
Meh. This book is a strange combination of irritating historical prejudices and modern references. Dido (merely a woman and a spinster at that!) throws herself around bemoaning her own denseness (well...she is quite dense) and lack of accomplishments (alas, she is a spinster aunt, sharp tongued and bad at math!) Yet at the same time she is kind to the servants and somehow able to wiggle out information from everyone. She's nosy and although that is a proper attribute for a detective, it
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers of Charles Finch and Tasha Alexander; Fans of cozy mysteries

Reflecting back on this book, I would hold to my earlier assertion that it's a bit like Miss Marple in Jane Austen's world. Her curiosity and propensity to gently meddle are worthy of Miss Marple. Her niece describes her as casting a satirical eye on others -- I rather wished for a bit more of that from her, but I supposed what I was really craving was Jane Austen's wit.

Anna Dean spreads out the clues such that an attentive reader will have the satisfaction of guessing much of the myst
Just what I needed. A quick, light, easy read, well written and well read since it was an audiobook. Dido is my kind of spinster!
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, favorites
I hadn't heard anything about this book series until Goodreads showed it to me (that's beginning to be the story of my reading life, haha) but, while it was a "secular" adult book- something I usually avoid simply because I don't like a lot of "content" in my novels- there wasn't anything in the reviews I saw to raise any red flags, so I decided to try it.

What a delightfully written book! It was interesting- with a solid mystery I didn't solve beforehand- and while there were many of the topics
Jan 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this first novel with Miss Dido Kent investigating the goings on at Bellfield Hall where her young niece has been left by her fiancé with nothing more than a cryptic excuse for his departure.

I liked the clever narration that incorporated Miss Kent's letters to her sister so that we could have her first person perspective alternating with the third person narration. There are some very heavy issues that are addressed in this mystery but they are dealt with in a fairly light way so that
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Easy, fast reading. Miss Kent is kind of a re-invented Jane Austen, even down to the details of her life: she's a spinster supported by an allowance from her wealthier brothers, she has a motherless niece that looks to her for a certain amount of advice, and while traveling she corresponds with her sister back home.

The dialogue and vocabulary seem spot-on for the time period. I am pretty impressed by this author's grasp of the Austen-like voice. The rest of the books in this series are good, too
Pauline Ross
I loved everything about this book. It combines two of my favourite genres, Jane Austen and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, in one glorious package, and how can anyone resist that? Dido Kent is a spinster, past the age of any likelihood of marriage, although not past the age of interest in gentlemen. But she’s no romantic heroine, that role being taken here by her niece. When the niece’s fiance disappears, she sends for her aunt to comfort her. But then there’s a murder…

Thereafter, this follows t
Eustacia Tan
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I actually finished this book quite a long time ago, but for some reason, I forgot to review it (._.)" But anyway, here it is~

Bellfield hall (subtitle: Or, The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent) reminds me of Jane Austen. Or at least, Miss Dido reminds me of Jane Austen - an "old" intelligent spinster. The world the novel inhabits is very much like a Jane Austen novel, which means it's "gentle".

Well, except for the murder. The murder sounds gruesome, although there isn't any violence. Even the descri
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
How refreshing to find an Austenite writer who can actually handle the Regency idiom properly! I thoroughly enjoyed this Austen-meets-Marple mystery, in which the murder is not the main puzzle. Who is the mystery corpse? Where did she come from, and how on earth did she end up in Sir Edgar's shrubbery? Why, when and how was she killed? More important (to Miss Kent and her niece)--did Richard Montague have anything to do with her death? And if not, why did he leave the house on the very evening o ...more
Laura Edwards
This was okay for the first in a series. The writing is a bit uneven, however. A lot of telling and little action. It seemed half of what was taking place at Bellfield Hall was described by Dido Kent in a letter to her sister instead of the reader enjoying the action as it took place. And, at times, it was difficult to discern the time frame. A scene would be playing out and then, at the end, the reader realizes Dido is recalling what happened and it is actually further along in the day or the v ...more
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Pros: Really liked the main character, written in first person, her strengths (scary smart and acting with best of intentions) and weaknesses (at times not only judgemental but feeling justified in acting upon that judgement, at times being just as patronizing to younger women as she feels and is irritated by men acting patronizing toward her as a spinster woman) were believable and made her seem genuine. I wasn't able to predict the outcome, and the author does a good job of keeping the reader ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: regency
This novel was brilliantly written! Every time I thought I had it figured out, a plot twist had me stymied. I didn't figure everything out until Dido herself explained it all in full, starting about 10 pages from the end of the book.
I loved that the story began after the major events mentioned in the synopsis have already transpired, so that- after a brief explanation of what has happened- you jump right into the mysterious search for answers right from the get-go.
I've read many reviews that me
ilovebakedgoods (Teresa)
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of mysteries, regency lovers
I read this book in one night. I really enjoyed the fast pace and the characters. It was fun to read a mystery that takes place in 1805, solved by a 'spinster' whose intelligence is apparently a turn-off to most men.

Not going into detail in this review, just wanted to make a short notation of my enjoyment of the book.
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical mysteries, clean mystery, cozy mystery
Another new series to me, and I'm so glad to have found this charming series. Miss Dido Kent has the instincts of Miss Marple and the straightforward above board cunning of Mrs. Jeffries. She writes to her sister throughout the book, long conversational letters that recaps the events for the reader. I loved that relationship and felt privy to their closeness.

Miss Dido visits Bellfield Hall at the request of her niece and not just because of the dead body found on the grounds. She makes many "ob
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really excellently told mystery. The author uses the historical setting to her advantage in advancing the plot, and told the story in a very period-correct voice. I really liked the main character, Dido, and the way her intellect and reason pulls her into solving the crime despite her natural humility and reserve.

My only quibble is with the use of ellipses to trail off unfinished speculation by Dido toward the end of her crime-solving. For whatever reason, the use of ellipses almost a
2.5 stars

Meh. The mystery was suitably interesting and Dean has a nice command of Regency language. But I felt at a remove from the characters and as though I was being told, not shown. I didn't really disappear into the story at any point, nor did I think about the book when I wasn't reading it. I love the idea of a Regency spinster solving mysteries by being nice to servants and paying attention to what's going on around her, but the execution was lacking.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Ugh. Didn’t make it thru. Just couldn’t get into the story - plot felt like it was dragging soooo slowly. Stopped around page 85.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I think this delightful Regency-era novel was the first mystery novel that I have read, at least that I can recall. And it was a very pleasant treat. :) The storyline definitely drew you in to the book as the mystery developed. However, there were a few faults I found with the book - for instance, for some reason, the Regency-era references felt a bit forced, as if the author were trying too hard to make the book feel "authentic." Maybe I'm just being nit-picky, but I did feel that parts of the ...more
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Bellfield Hall is an English country home murder mystery set during the Georgian era. Miss Dido Kent arrives at the hall after her niece summons her there- she soon finds out that not only has her beloved niece's fiancee called off their engagement, but also that a woman no one knows has been murdered in the shrubbery. Dido promises to help her niece discover why her fiancee so abruptly called off their marriage, and in the meantime, she does some of her own sleuthing on the murder.

I enjoyed thi
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Moment of Silence is an entertaining murder mystery set in the early 19th century. It's the first in a series of novels featuring the wonderful Miss Dido Kent.

The story begins when Dido is summoned to Belsfield Hall, the country estate of the Montague family. Her niece Catherine is engaged to Sir Montague's son Richard - who has mysteriously disappeared during their engagement party. Dido agrees to help Catherine solve the mystery behind Richard's disappearance, but events soon take a more sin
A MOMENT OF SILENCE (Hist Mys/Ama. Sleuth-Dido Kent-England-1805) - Ex
Dean, Anna – 1st book
Allison & Busby, 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780749079109

First Sentence: My dear Eliza, I must begin another letter to you, although it is not six hours since I sent my last.

Catherine Kent is engaged to Richard Montague. During a special ball at Betsfield Hall, Richard reacts strongly to a red-headed man and then disappears.

Catherine’s father sends for his spinster sister, Miss Dido Kent. The same day Did
Barb in Maryland
I am of two minds about this book. One one side, the writing was good, the style of the book (first person letters and third person narrative)was interesting. However, the mystery was very thin.
Our heroine, Dido Kent, joins a house party at Bellfield Hall to comfort her niece, whose fiance Richard ,a son of the house, has rather abruptly severed their engagement. The morning after Dido's arrival the body of a young woman is found on the grounds of the estate. Hmmm, what did Richard's disappeara
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: period-mystery
Dido, run, do not walk, run from this guy with the grasping, spendthrift son. The apple falls not far from the treeeee! And even if the dad is okay, you're still stuck with the son coming home, harassed by creditors, shamed by society, and probably scheming to get what little money is left.
This is a book for Jane Austin fans, a story set in a big manor house with secrets(tm) and engagements gone awry.
Miss Dido is invited to stay with her niece, who is upset by the disappearance of her fiance,
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Anna Dean was born in Cumberland (now part of Cumbria) in England in 1956. She moved to the Midlands as a child but as she grew older she became determined to return to the Lake District and, after a few years living in Wales, she moved back to Cumbria in 1984. She lives near Ambleside with her husband.

Dean has worked as an assistant to a psychologist; she has worked for the National Trust; she ha

Other books in the series

Dido Kent (4 books)
  • A Gentleman of Fortune (A Dido Kent Mystery #2)
  • A Woman of Consequence (A Dido Kent Mystery #3)
  • A Place of Confinement (A Dido Kent Mystery #4)

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“It was, of course, a great failure in a woman's life - to never have achieved even a doomed and unsuccessful love. But she was not quite sure whether she had failed or not.

When she was young there had been moments, of course. But those moments had never amounted to much more than a little fever of admiration - a little flutter and agitation in a ballroom - so slight a feeling that the cautious Dido had never considered it a secure foundation for a lifetime of living together. And then, sooner or later, she had always made and odd remark, or laughed at the wrong moment, and the young men became alarmed or angry - and the flutter and the agitation all turned to irritation.

Dido could laugh and gossip about love as well as any woman but, deep down, she suspected that she had not the knack of falling into it.”
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