Rating: 3 Stars ★★★☆☆
“She’s here! I thought she would be. She’s one of the three young ladies you see in the right-hand box near the proscenium.”
Violet Strange has a secret. A vivacious socialite, she is one of the most sought-after women in New York—as a private investigator. Between well-heeled excursions to the opera and fabulous dinner parties, Violet uses her lively charms to investigate the dark side of Gilded Age society. From the daughter of an important businessman accused of theft on a grand scale, to the suspected murder-suicide of the husband and child of a society woman, to the lost will of a financier whose death greatly affected the money market, Violet expertly sleuths out hidden clues, all the while protecting her secret identity. But the greatest puzzle of all may be what compels Miss Strange to undertake this outlandish work in the first place, and what it may afford—or cost—her in the end.
A debutante called Violet Strange who secretly solves crimes? Sounds awesome. And for the most part, it was. Though I had some problem actually liking Violet. She doesn’t actually like what she’s doing. She’s always reluctant to accept a case and that was kind of annoying.
Of course, in the end, she always does accept them – and solve them. I liked the different problems she encounters. Some of them were surprisingly dark.
Here’s an overview of the different stories:
The Golden Slipper
An inseperable group of five girls come under strain when it’s noticed that items of value always go missing when they show up. Suspicion falls on Alicia Dricoll and her father asks Violet Strange to clear her name.
Though it is the story that gives the book its name I thought it was one of the weakest of the bunch.
Violet Strange in society was a very different person from Violet Strange under the tension of her secret and peculiar work.
The Second Bullett
A man and his child are found dead in a locked room and his death is ruled a suicide – except his widow insists it was murder.
A typical locked room mystery with the added darkness of a dead child. The reveal of where the second bullet went was tragic.
An Intangible Cue
A woman is found murdered, her house ransacked, a trail of blood on the floor and a wallet – still there.
Miss Strange hated murders and it was with difficulty she could be brought to discuss them. But she was not going to be let off; not this time.
This story was okay but yeah, not really one of the strong ones in the collection.
The Grotto Spectre
A man’s estranged wife died in her bed under mysterious circumstances. It was ruled a failing of the heart but suspicion hangs above him and his father. Can Violet bring them peace of mind?
This one reads like a gothic mystery and is quite dark in places. I liked it.
The Dreaming Lady
A rich financier has died, entrusting his changed will to his sister. But she has misplaced it, sleepwalking. The will has to be found before the original heir appears and throws the dying nephew and his family out of the house-
Ah the classic sleepwalking. That part reminded me a lot of The Moonstone. I always thought it a weird trope. However, I liked the story because of the added pressure of finding the will before the original heir appears.
The House of Clocks
There’s a desolate house overgrown by thickets in which live an invalid and her stepdaughter. A lawyer is called in to draft her final will and he supects there is something quite wrong with the dying woman.
Now this one was really dark. Perhaps that’s why I liked it so much. It has madness, cruelty and wickedness.
For, upon examining the stitches more carefully, I perceived that what I had considered a mere decorative pattern was in fact a string of letters, and that these letters made words, and that these words were:
Or, in plain writing:
“I do not want to die, but I surely will if —”
Finish the sentence for me. That is the problem I offer you.
The Doctor, his Wife and the Clock
A man is murdered in his own house and his neighbour confesses to the crime. He won’t give a motive for it and there’s another problem – he’s blind, so how could he have shot the neighbour?
Another dark story. It was a bit convoluted but overall really good and tragic.
Missing: Page Thirteen
At a house party, a page containing a secret formula goes missing and Violet is employed to find it. There is only one place it can be – behind a hidden door, cemented shut. But what she finds there is more than she bargained for.
A house with a secret, locked room. A missing formula. A darkness that hangs over the family that owns the house – what’s not to like?
This story tells the reason why Violet, a rich and pretty debutante chooses to spend her free time solving mysteries and murders.
This one isn’t really a mystery. It’s just an explanation Violet gives for why she secretly solves crimes.
Interesting, sometimes really dark mysteries.