Death of an Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlen – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tessa Arlen who is celebrating today’s release of her newest book Death of an Unsung Hero, Volume 4 in the Lady Montfort series from Minotaur Books.

In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer the dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Montfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“How very nice, Mrs. Jackson.” Iyntwood’s elderly butler settled into his chair by the window. “Why, it’s almost like old times again.” George Hollyoak’s glance took in the claustrophobic and over-furnished room: shabby velvet chairs jostled with a heavy mahogany desk, taking up far too much space in front of the windows, both of which were swathed in heavy curtains in a dusty but strident red plaid.

The dowager Countess of Montfort had died two years ago and her character, or that of the late Queen Victoria, whom she had revered, was still heavily imprinted on the dower house furnished as a faithful replica of the old queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle. Bright and, to Mrs. Jackson’s flinching eye, brash tartans dominated most of the reception rooms on the ground floor of Haversham Hall.

Mrs. Jackson was encouraged to see George Hollyoak sitting in her new office. It had taken weeks to coax him to visit her and now after all sorts of silly excuses here he was. Though even with her old friend and mentor sitting at his leisure with a cup of after- noon tea in his hand it wasn’t really like old times, no matter how much they all wished it were. The war had changed everything. Her face must have reflected her thoughts as she followed his gaze around the oppressively furnished room. “Perhaps not quite like old times.” Her guest smiled as he observed a shaft of dust motes dancing thickly in the late summer sunlight. “I must say you are looking well, Mrs. Jackson, and so very smart in your uniform: Voluntary Aid Detachment or Red Cross?” This was the first time he had acknowledged that Iyntwood’s dower house had been transformed into an auxiliary hospital.

“The hospital comes under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross, but I trained with the VAD. I am not an assisting nurse, so I am spared the traditional starched apron and the rather claustrophobic cap,” she answered. Long aprons and linen caps, in her experience, were worn by cooks, and although Mrs. Jackson was not a snob, she was conscious of little things like rank and station.

In acknowledging Haversham Hall’s new status the old man evidently felt he might ask his next question. He leaned forward, curiosity bright in his eyes. “And how are you finding life in your new abode?”

Mrs. Jackson hesitated before she answered. She had never liked Haversham Hall; it was as overbearing as the Victorian age it had been built in and an ugly building in comparison to the Elizabethan elegance of Iyntwood. But she had made the adjustment from being a senior servant to Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the Earl of Mont- fort, at his principal country-seat, to the rank of quartermaster at Lady Montfort’s new hospital far more easily than she had anticipated. The real challenge had come when their first patients had arrived, but this was something she was not prepared to share with Mr. Hollyoak—not just yet.

About the Author: TESSA ARLEN is the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, Death Sits Down to Dinner and A Death byAny OtherName. Sheis thedaughterofa British diplomat and had lived in or visited herparents in Singapore, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi, and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the US in 1980 and worked as an HR recruiter for the LA Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her futurehusband for a job. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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