Flora Maguire Mysteries
Flora Maguire, governess to thirteen-year-old Edward, Viscount Trent, is on her way home to England from New York after the wedding of her employer’s daughter.
Conscious of her status among a complement of only first class passengers on the ship’s maiden voyage, she avoids the dining room on the first night, but meets a charming motor car enthusiast who goes by the unusual name of Bunny Harrington.
The next morning, Flora discovers the body of a man at the bottom of a companionway , but when his death is deemed an accident, Flora is not convinced. The mystery of her mother’s disappearance when she was a child drives her to find out what really happened to the dead man. Flora confides her suspicions to Bunny, and a German passenger, both of whom appear to concur with her misgivings.
However, the ship's doctor and the captain are both reluctant to accept there is a murderer on board. When Flora and Edward are threatened, followed by a near drowning during a storm and a second murder - the hunt is on in earnest for a killer.
Time is running out as the SS Minneapolis approaches the English coast. Will Flora be able to discover who the murderer is and keep young Edward safe?
Is her burgeoning relationship with the handsome Ptolemy [Bunny] Harrington only a shipboard dalliance, or something more?
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra are on the throne and Flora is now married to Bunny Harrington, and living in Richmond, Surrey with him and her mother-in-law, Beatrice. After a minor fire in their basement, Flora receives a telegram saying her father has died suddenly in a riding accident.
Heartbroken, she and Bunny return to Cleeve Abbey, with the intention of burying Riordan Maguire with her mother, who died when she was a child. When she discovers no one knows where Lily Maguire was buried, and with her father now gone, Flora sets out to discover if any of the longer serving estate staff can shed some light on what happened to her.
Although disapproved of by Lady Vaughn, the new tram system in Cheltenham gives Flora a certain independence, enabling her to go out and about asking questions about a mysterious poisoning incident her father appeared interested in before his death, as well as the mystery of a local girl who went missing after a summer fair.
Family secrets start emerging which combine to convince Flora there is also something untoward about her father's accident. She finally learns something about her mother, but despite Bunny’s warnings, walks into a situation from which she has to be rescued and further revelations contrive to alter Flora's perception of herself.
It is almost Christmas 1903 and Flora is invited to stay at William Osborne's Knightsbridge apartment. On her first night she and William are to attend the theatre when Flora sees a young man hustling a young woman out of the lobby of the apartment block. She mentions this to William who recognises the man as a work colleague and neighbour who lives upstairs with his invalid wife.
Later that same evening, the unidentified body of a young woman is found near The Grenadier public house in Old Barrack Yard, an alley adjacent to William's apartment building. The police issue a description of the victim which resembles the lady Flora saw earlier, but to speak up would implicate the neighbour, so she keeps her counsel until she can find out more.
William's time is unexpectedly monopolised by the Serbian Murder crisis, leaving Flora to her own devices, so when she recognises the emblem on some leaflets a Suffragist delivers to her apartment building as the same one on a brooch the dead woman wore, she starts investigating.
At the NUWSS meeting at their headquarters in Victoria Street, Flora meets Lydia Grey, whose friend Evangeline Lange was expected at the meeting, but hasn’t turned up. Flora’s subsequent enquiries bring her into contact with a young man with whom she joins forces to discover whether or not the dead woman is his missing sister.
Once again, Flora's enthusiasm overcomes her caution and she finds herself in a tricky situation - will she be rescued in time, or has she pushed her luck too far?
Flora Maguire's life is perfect – a beautiful home in Belgravia teeming with servants, a loving husband, and new baby Arthur to enjoy. But when she is invited to tour St Philomena's Children's Hospital in deprived Southwark, she gets a harsh insight into the darker side of Edwardian London.
Shocked by the conditions people are living in, she soon uncovers a scandal with a dark heart – children are going missing from the hospital, apparently sold by their own families, and their fate is too awful to imagine. With the police seemingly unable or unwilling to investigate, Flora teams up with the matron of the hospital, Alice Finch, to try to get to the bottom of it.
Soon Flora is immersed in the seedy, dangerous underbelly of criminal London, and time is running out to save the children. Will they get to them in time, or was their fate decided the day they were born poor...