In 1871 Brighton, Mina Scarletti, small, frail and with a twisted spine, faces the world with steely defiance. Robbed of that traditional hope of Victorian women – marriage and motherhood – she views this apparent disadvantage as an opportunity to achieve anything else she pleases. Mina writes tales of horror and hauntings, and she also exposes the crimes of fraudulent mediums who try to extort money from the vulnerable bereaved. In An Unquiet Ghost, her third adventure, she is consulted by an engaged couple, cousins, whose family is blighted by a 20 year old unsolved murder. The killer must have been a blood relative, and until they know the truth they dare not marry and risk passing on a terrible taint to their children. Only one person apart from the killer knows the answer – the murdered man himself. The couple entreat Mina to try and find a genuine medium who can solve their dilemma, and, her curiosity piqued by the puzzle, she agrees. There are two renowned mediums in town, the ethereally emaciated Athene Brendel, who sees visions of both the living and the dead, and mysterious Mr Castlehouse, who invokes the spirits to chalk messages on sealed slates. Both are convincing, but both have secrets of their own.
Mina also has to keep an eye on a potential scandal in her own family, while trying to keep her charming scallywag of a brother out of mischief as he embarks on yet another dubious attempt to make his fortune.
As ever she is assisted by her friend Nellie, a former conjuror’s assistant who has a few tricks up her sleeve, and Dr Daniel Hamid, proprietor of Brighton’s fashionable oriental steam bath, and the voice of reason in Mina’s sometimes chaotic endeavours.
Long-buried secrets will see the light of day, and when Mina finally finds the answer she seeks it will be so much worse than she could ever have imagined.
An Unquiet Ghost is publshed by Sapere