The Duke's Agent by Rebecca Jenkins
First in a new series of Regency-era mysteries, The Duke’s Agent is a fascinating whodunnit set in the northern county of Durham, featuring Frederick “Raif” Jarrett, a distant relative of the Duke of Penrith (the nature of their relationship isn’t precisely defined, but there are definite hints Raif was born illegitimate) and now acting as an agent for said Duke. Sent to investigate the duke’s affairs following the death of a steward, Raif soon discovers something foul simmering beneath the quiet surface of Woolbridge, something certain people would do anything to conceal. Including attempting to pin the death of a young woman on Raif to stop his investigation.
What struck me about the story, and Raif’s investigation, was just how impossible it was to gather any sort of evidence in those days. A bootprint was about the only piece of tangible evidence found which could possibly be used as any sort of identification, and even then a powerful and determined opponent could override justice if the defendant has no one to stand up for them.
As an Australian, living in a country settled by convicts many of whom had the misfortune to be transported merely for offending the wrong person, it was something which really hit home, and I was relieved Raif had powerful allies on his side who were able to clear his name.
Though this isn’t a romance, I found myself hoping for one between Raif and Henrietta, a lady who offers some assistance in the case. This is the kind of series which could run on over any number of books, and I definitely hope Raif and Henrietta get together in the end. Duffin the poacher and his dog Bob were my other favourite characters, and I really hope we get a lot more of them as the series continues.
This was such an intriguing read and I found myself really invested in the outcome of the story. Five stars, and I hope to read more of Raif’s adventures soon!
The Duke's Agent is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.