The Vanished Bride. Bella Ellis. Penguin Publishing Group. September 2019; pb, 304 pp.; ISBN #: 9780593099056.
In between writing poetry, novels and stories, Charlotte, Emily and Ann Bronte are looking into a criminal matter. They call themselves “detectors.” That means there’s no official police designation and no spy attachment. The nicest part of this novel is that these are talented but ordinary sisters who have talents with weaknesses. They quarrel with and pick on each other as sisters do but there is a deep abiding and protective love that is rock solid no matter what happens. They grow up in a time when a woman is a possession and really has absolutely no rights of her own. However, they are raised by a liberal pastoral father who teaches them otherwise and respects the decisions they make. So when a friend of theirs, Maddie, tells of a horrible occasion where her mistress has gone missing and all that is left behind is a gross amount of blood all over her bedroom. Maddie implies that the behavior of Mr. Chester is cruel beyond reason and comes close to being criminal. So the three sisters decide to become sleuths and tell their father nothing of plans.
Bram, the sisters’ brother, is an enigma of a character in this story. He helps them during the day and seems strongly supportive. But his nights are full of drinking himself into oblivion and he seems aimless in life because of a lost love. However, he does come through in all the right places where woman must be accompanied by a male. All the characters who loved Mrs. Chester are warm and have nothing but good things to say about her. So they also will do what they can to find this missing woman.
The solution to the mystery comes after numerous clues are provided with many different interpretations as to meaning and how they fit with the obvious plan. Mr. Chester has a hyperactive brain that imagines wrongs that lead him to jealous and cruel treatment of his brides and everyone else in the house. Others try to protect the victims from Mr. Chester’s outrageous attacks.
However, the right people will be discovered and the criminal will pay for wrongs committed. Overall, readers will be pleased with the detective-like activities of these three sisters who vow to do no wrong and always work on the right side of the law. They are very good “detectors” and the reader hopes they will have other efforts published on their mystery talent skills. Nicely done, Bella Ellis!