The Mitford Vanishing – Jessica Fellowes

For all of you who already have read Jessica Fellowes’ five Mitford family murder mysteries featuring former nurserymaid turned sleuth, Louisa Cannon, why didn’t somebody tell me about them?! The Mitford Vanishing finds Louisa married to former D.I. Guy Sullivan and mother to their baby Maisie nearing a year old. Louisa has just joined Guy in their new private detective agency when they are called by the Mitfords to find sister Decca (Jessica Mitford at age 19) who has disappeared. As those who are familiar with the Mitfords know, several family members were fervent supporters of Naziism, while Jessica was much more left leaning. The Spanish Civil war is drawing anti-facists to Spain via France. Hitler is gaining power in Germany. Jessica has taken all her “running away” money and — run away. Why? Where? Is she safe or in harm’s way? Meanwhile, Louisa is called in to find another missing woman, Petunia Atwood, who failed to return to work after her vacation. Is it just a coincidence that she has an enemy in Bernard Plum, a well regarded employee at her insurance agency who was suspended when Petunia accused him of fraud? Fellowes is very adept at mixing an entirely fictional set of characters, Petunia, Bernard, Louisa, Guy and various other heroes, heroines, villains with a historically accurate picture of the Mitford sisters and Decca’s disappearance in 1937, somewhat reckless, undeniably hard on her family, an act of rebellion and and a decision based on personal and political passion. I “read” the audio version of this book and found it delightful. The mysteries were well-plotted and the characters, even the minor ones who care for Maisie, run a Communist bookstore, translate for Guy, etc. are well drawn. Although I plan to go back to read the first four books in this series, I was not unduly confused by reading the fifth book first, just disappointed it took me so long to find this series.

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