|Severn House Publishers|
26 February 2021
Tabitha Hart Mystery #2
My thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book
Cheshire. May Day, 1753. Tabitha De Vallory believes her life is perfect: she has an imposing home with all the comforts she has ever desired, and is expecting her first child with doting husband Nathaniel De Vallory. But Tabitha's happiness is shaken when a girl is slaughtered beneath the Mondrem Oak on the family's forest estate. Recognizing the victim from her former scandalous life, Tabitha vows to find the killer.
Nearby, enigmatic Baptist Gunn and his followers are convinced that a second messiah will be born, amid blood and strife, close to the oak on Midsummer's Day. Could the girl's murder be linked to Gunn's cryptic prophecy? Do his wild claims of a second saviour spell danger for Tabitha and her unborn child?
As Midsummer's Day draws closer, Tabitha soon learns the destiny that threatens her and those she holds most dear..
Married for just three months, Tabitha De Vallory and her husband, Nathaniel are expecting their first child and are slowly becoming accustomed to their new life as landed gentry living at Bold Hall in Cheshire. On Old May Day in 1753 Tabitha and Nat take an innocent trip into the forest around Bold Hall to view the Modrem Oak, the oldest tree in the forest, and come across the mutilated body of a young woman. This macabre death upsets the equilibrium of the woodland and inadvertently leads Tabitha and Nat into the clutches of Baptist Gunn, an enigmatic preacher who seems to have an uncanny gift for prophecy. Tabitha is sorely troubled by the death of this young woman and her robust investigation to discover the truth opens up many dark secrets.
The Cheshire countryside comes alive with myths and folklore and the unravelling of The Prophet plays into local superstition with hints at dark magic and predictions of the future. Tabitha and Nat are beautifully drawn characters,they have still much to learn, not just about about impending parenthood but also about gaining more of a standing in society, which doesn't always welcome them with enthusiasm. The mystery at the heart of the novel builds steadily which allows the tension to be stretched to breaking point and as we get to know more about the enigmatic preacher, and his plans for the future, so we realise just what danger abounds in the dense woods around Bold Hall.
I have great admiration for any author who can write history with such conviction that you feel as if you travel back in time with them and that is most surely the case with The Prophet. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, The Prophet continues the story of Tabitha and Nathaniel which began in The Almanack and whilst it is perfectly possible to read The Prophet without having read the first book, it does make sense to start at the beginning and follow this intriguing couple as they introduce us to their life at Bold Hall, and give us the pleasure of being involved in their adventurous life together.
About the Author
Martine Bailey is the author of four historical crime mysteries. She studied cookery with TV food historian Ivan Day and was a former UK Dessert Champion cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. This year she was longlisted for the Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing. She lives in a small village in Cheshire and is married with one son.
Twitter @MartineBailey #TheProphet