Edition: Headline, 1997
Review number: 45
Jane Jakeman's first novel is a Regency period detective story, with a hero (Lord Ambrose) clearly based on Byron. Lord Ambrose has returned to England following the Greek war of independence (in which Byron also fought), sickened by the sights of war. He takes up a hermit-like existence, which is only interrupted when, in the absence of the local squire, he is called to the scene of a local murder.
He immediately makes himself unpopular by stopping the lynching of a gypsy who was in the area at the time of the murder, and then meets the widow of one of the murdered men, who were farmers, father and son. He also meets the governess of her young son, about whom there is some mystery - she is clearly from a very well-off genteel background, but she has hired herself out as governess on a farm; indeed, the older farmer boasted that he bought her at the fair. Lord Ambrose finds himself strangely drawn to this woman, a fellow voluntary outcast from the human race.
The novel has a good, gothic novel style atmosphere, though Jakeman doesn't have the touch for creating the Regency period which Georgette Heyer (for example) had. There are one or two infelicities in her writing; no editor should have allowed the word for word repetition of descriptions which occurs. (They form a clue to the mystery as well, for the repetition draws attention to a particular feature.)
The title of the novel is from Byron's Childe Harolde.