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Barbara Sjoholm
Love Dies Twice
Cassandra Reilly, the Irish-American translator and amateur sleuth, shares a flat in London with her long-time friend, retired bassoonist Nicky Gibbons. Their lives are disrupted when Cassandra attends a lecture on the beguines, laywomen who lived in sisterhood in thirteenth-century Belgium. The beguines were the subject of a popular historical mystery series by Stella Terwicker who died ten years before, but whose literary estate is still creating problems for those who knew her, including her biographer. Cassandra is soon pulled into investigating a possibly suspicious death, a task that takes her from the Ladies’ Pond in London’s Hampstead Heath to the medieval city of Bruges to the seacoast of Devon. With Nicky’s help, Cassandra must unravel a story of desire, lies, and love that stretches back decades to the rabble-rousing years of women’s liberation and feminist publishing.
In Wilson’s stellar sixth mystery featuring translator Cassandra Reilly (after 2021’s Not the Real Jupiter), Avery Armstrong, a London literary agent Cassandra has worked with, needs her help. Avery wants Cassandra to accompany her to a lecture given by biographer Fiona Craig, whose subject is the late Stella Terwicker, author of a series of medieval mysteries set in 13th-century Flanders. Hoping that in return, Avery will agree to represent an author whose work Cassandra has translated, she agrees to run interference in case Vonn Henley, “a member of a publishing collective that only published lesbians” and supposedly threatened Fiona, disrupts the talk. Vonn does attend, but there are no fireworks. The incident recedes from Cassandra’s memory until Vonn’s found drowned in a pool in Bristol weeks later under suspicious circumstances. Cassandra’s curiosity leads her to investigate and uncover secrets about Terwicker en route to the satisfying ending. Wilson’s depiction of the vicissitudes of the publishing world and plausible complex interpersonal relationships enhance the gripping story line. Dorothy Sayers fans will hope for more from this gifted writer. (Self-published)