The Firebird’s Feather: A Late Victorian Mystery. Marjorie Eccles. Severn House Publishers. December 2014. 224 pp. hbk and eBook. ISBN #: 9780727884268.
Eighteen year-old Kitty Challoner is getting ready to come out to upper class society in 1911 London, England. It’s a vibrant time and place in which to be alive as the London world awaits a new world, women are fighting for the right to vote – a fiercely controversial debate, and politicians are vying for power while decrying the foreign elements taking violent action in the streets of London. The fear of Bolsheviks is huge as Communism begins to form and spread throughout the world!
In the midst of this chaotic atmosphere, Kitty’s mother, Lydia, goes out one day with her male companion and is killed by a gunshot wound while riding through Hyde Park. Kitty is about to enter an investigative stage of her life that will shed her of all innocence and at the same time reveal the forces of power prevailing in post-Victorian London society.
At first the police are suspicious about Lydia’s husband but that quickly changes to their belief that something about her Russian roots is connected to the Bolshevist campaign of violence. Lydia was fiercely faithful to her Russian roots but what does her death have to do with a missing gun, a real and fake Russian icon with significant mysterious meaning, the formation of Bolshevist newspapers with their inflammatory essays and reports, the life behind her well-behaved male companion, and half of a sketch of a wolf found instead a box decorated with the highly symbolic firebird?
Marjorie Eccles is a wonderful mystery writer who knows exactly where to tone down and ramp up the exhilarating facts and circumstances around this mysterious crime. The novel gives ample background and ambiance to the prevailing historical realities in London news and in the connection to Russian exiles now residents in England. The Firebird’s Feather is excellent mystery fiction that twists and turns in unpredictable but exciting ways. Every page is a leap forward in being educated in history’s social, political and criminal world in London, England and Russia! Great, short read that this reviewer recommends as a terrific novel!