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Death in the West Wind
By Deryn Lake

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Death in the West Wind
A John Rawlings Mystery
By Deryn Lake
Ulverscoft Large Print, 2003
ISBN: 0-7089-4738-7
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction - Georgian

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - August 24, 2003

Death in the West Wind is a thrilling historical mystery by Deryn Lake. This is the seventh novel in her John Rawlings mystery series. Rawlings is an English apothecary and amateur detective. These mysteries are set in the 18th century, and the Georgian period in England is vividly recreated in the pages of Lake's book.

Death in the West Wind takes a slightly different course than most of Lake's previous Rawlings mysteries. This is because in most of the mysteries, Rawlings teams up with John Fielding, a London magistrate to solve the mystery at hand. Despite Fielding making a brief appearance in the pages of this book, it is Emilia, Rawlings' new wife, who primarily helps him solve this mystery.

This story is set in 1759, and the newlyweds John and Emilia have traveled to Devon for their honeymoon. Their romantic interlude is interrupted when they see a ship being towed to shore with the body of a young girl wrapped around the ship's figurehead. In the 18th century, apothecaries also served as doctors. The town of Sidmouth, where the couple was staying did not have its own physician, so Rawlings is asked to examine the body of the dead girl.

Much to his surprise, he discovers that he knows the girl. She was Juliana, the daughter of a Dutch merchant who lived in Topsham. Rawlings determines that she had been molested shortly before her death, and that she was also pregnant! As he begins his investigation into the murder of the young women, he discovers that her brother Richard is missing. This only serves to fuel Rawlings determination to get to the bottom of this tragic mystery.

Death in the West Wind is a great mystery. There are many unexpected twists to this story, plus there is the requisite secret society whose members strive to keep Rawlings from discovering the truth surrounding Juliana's death. For a man on his honeymoon, Rawlings has very little time for romance as he and his wife risk their lives to discover the truth...

It is interesting to note that the character of John Rawlings is based upon the real-life apothecary who invented carbonated water!

Death in the West Wind can be purchased online, directly from Ulverscroft.

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