“Bailey pens a taut, suspenseful "who-done-it" with The Deathly Portent. Set in the small English town of Witherly, Lord and Lady Fanshawe find themselves stranded when their carriage loses a wheel. Unfortunately for them, the only person in town who can help them with their problem has just been murdered. Can Lady Fan solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?
Bailey's writing is lush and vivid, striking to the heart of the setting by enveloping the reader into the story with authentic dialogue and rich narrative. I felt like a serving girl at the Pakefield's establishment, the Blue Pig, watching as Ottila investigated Duggleby's death. The pacing takes its time as it introduces the colorful citizens of Witherly and slowly uncovers the clues behind the murder. What makes the wait entertaining is the rich characterization.
The Fanshawes are a delight! Ottila and Francis compliment each other well. Lady Fan is a force to be reckoned with. She's determined, focused, and courageous – which gets her in trouble when danger arises. Lord Fan gives Ottila the space she needs while offering his steadfast support. The suspects shine against Witherly's landscape from the old bittys, to the serving girls, to the witch, to the crusty old lawmen – they're serious, entertaining and all will worm their way into the reader's heart with their very human faults and honest emotions.
The Deathly Portent is a sequel to The Gilded Shroud, but the story reads well as a stand alone. As the suspense builds, the novel culminates in an exciting ending. If you're a fan of historicals and mysteries, you'll enjoy this story. This is my first Elizabeth Bailey novel, and it won't be my last. "The Deathly Portent" sweeps the reader off to another time and place and leaves them breathless.
StephB wrote this review Monday, September 30, 2013.