The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne
By Elsa Hart
(344 pages, mystery, 2020)
It’s London in 1703 and Cecily Kay, wife of a British diplomat in Smyrna, is a plant collector who has traveled back to England. She has gotten permission to study in the “Plant Room” in the house of Sir Barnaby Mayne.
This is a very exciting prospect for Cecily, a learned amateur botanist. She has dried plants from Smyrna that she wishes to look up in his collection of books about plants.
Sir Barnaby is a serious collector of wonders of the world. He has cabinets upon cabinets of stones, gems, fossils, weapons and many statues and skeletons of exotic creatures. He is the envy of other collectors in his wealthy circle.
But soon after Cecily arrives, Sir Barnaby Mayne is killed in his study. And his mild-mannered curator, Mr. Dinley, confesses to the murder. No one who knows Mr. Dinley believes that he has killed his employer. He is a gentle, patient man. Cecily decides to investigate the murder in order to save Mr. Dinley. She is joined by her childhood friend, Meacan Barlow. Cecily and Meacan have not seen each other for years. Meacan is now an illustrator for collector’s catalogs and inventories.
Soon Cecily and Meacan are caught up in the shadowy world of collectors and their suppliers. Some of whom are willing to commit fraud to make a sale. And some are villains who are willing to go further than that. Cecily and Meacan do not realize the danger that they are in. Soon Cecily is in a race against time to save Mr. Dinley, and also her friend.
Cecily is an intelligent, courageous woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. And she is determined in her course to discover the truth. I really liked the two women characters and how they work together to solve this crime. And the descriptions of the collections in the cabinets are fascinating.
You’ll want to know if Cecily succeeds, and what mysteries lie in the Cabinets of Sir Barnaby Mayne!
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