Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
In an era of very non-equal rights for women, Miss Maggie Parkhurst (Whyborne’s secretary) is given a voice and the fortitude to seek and to follow through on her desires. She’s also extremely clever and has the strength of conviction when it comes to her belief in assisting the woman she’s come to love: Persephone, twin to our favorite hero, Percival Whyborne. This clever installment in the Whyborne & Griffin series takes place concurrently with Whyborne’s visit to Kansas where he and Flaherty have gone in the story, Fallow.
Maggie is attracted to Persephone but hasn’t had the courage to let her know, and indeed, Maggie is struggling with that attraction as the story opens. But as the menace comes to a head, and Persephone is endangered, Maggie’s strength and persistence are what saves the day.
With this novella, Ms. Hawke shows her versatility by creating a strong FF couple and seamlessly weaving their story into what is already a memorable and highly enjoyable series. There’s nothing even mildly disruptive here, and in fact, I enjoyed Maggie’s musings on why Dr. Whyborne seems to always need his friend, the detective Griffin Flaherty, with him on all his trips. Later in the story, the pensive Maggie thinks it odd that the handsome Mr. Flaherty never seems to be in the company of a woman, rather he seeks to visit Dr. Whyborne at the museum, and at times, he even eats lunch with him there. These little sidebar thoughts added just the right tone of whimsy and speculation, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
There was some semi-explicit lady loving later in the story, easily skimmed for those who aren’t into girly bits, but the story was principally about the mystery of who is killing ketoi. We also get a revisit from the Fideles group and an opportunity to see the defensive powers of the “librarians” led by Mr. Quinn—another highly enjoyable segment of the story.
I wouldn’t recommend reading this as a standalone, but it’s the perfect complement to the series and serves to enhance the overarching mystery surrounding the Widdershins paranormal activities. Plus, it’s nice to know that Whyborne’s sister is going to get her HEA with the indomitable Maggie Parkhurst. Highly recommended.
Cover art by Lou Harper is lovely and pertinent to the story.