Publishing year: 2011
This is the second mystery in Annie Fuller’s series.
From the previous book we know that Annie Fuller is a widow, whose husband committed suicide after getting into terrible debt. Their marriage wasn’t a happy one, but Annie doesn’t speak about it. Now he lives in a house that she inherited from her Aunt Agatha, and she has turned it into a guest house where there is a group of regulars living there. There is her housekeeper Beatrice O’Rourke, who is her best friend, the very young maid Kathleen, and there are the guests. Esther and Herman Stein are a wealthy couple who were friends of her family, and now they are Annie’s friends and guests too. There is eight-year-old Jamie and his mother Barbara Hewitt, and Annie doesn’t know if there was ever a Mr Hewitt, but she has never asked. Mr Harvey and Mr Chapman are two clerks, Miss Minnie and Millie Moffat, two sisters who are seamstresses, and Miss Lucy Pinehurst, who works in a restaurant as a bookkeeper. In the previous book we got to know Nate Dawson, a young lawyer, who helped Annie to solve a crime, and now they are sweet on each other. We also know that apart from her income with her guesthouse, Annie also has an occupation as some kind of fortuneteller. Her moniker is Madam Sybille, and she uses her knowledge about the stock market and finances, and her common sense to advise her clients.
In this book Annie is approached by one of her guests Miss Lucy Pinehurst. She tells her about her little nephew dying, and she is now worried because her sister has come to rely on a couple Arabella and Simon Frampton that claim to have the power to contact the dead. Miss Lucy is worried because her sister is getting more and more unstable as she relies on these people more and more. Besides, the money she pays them is really draining her husband. Miss Lucy thinks that since Annie has experience as Madam Sybille, an occupation that Lucy Pinehurst despises, she can help her with her sister.
Annie accepts, and a couple of days later she and Kathleen go to see the Framptons. Simon interviews Annie, and he tells her that she could join what he calls the circle on Friday along with a judge, a banker, and the woman of an important businessman. He also tells her about a young girl, Evie May, who also have psychic powers and is with them. Annie is curious to know the girl. In the book we get snippets of the young girl, apparently locked in an attic, and I’m curious to know who she is and why she is with this couple. Who is her family? Has she been kidnapped for her powers maybe?
Also in the prologue of the book we get an inner dialogue of an old lady who is bedridden, annoyed by her son and daughter-in-law. She thinks it is unlucky that he is the only son who survived from the six she had. The woman she is bitter as she feels dependent on the couple, and then the last scene of this prologue is the woman dying. It is not obvious but it seems that the woman has been suffocated to death by someone pressing the pillow against her face. Maybe the couple the woman was so annoyed with are the Framptons?
As for Nate, he has been visiting his family for six weeks. He and Annie had a tiff after he left when he made a few rude comments about her occupation as Madam Sybille and about the two Moffat sisters who were in the living room with them that night, not allowing him to have the privacy he hankered for. Then Annie also got angry when he had to call off their night out to see a play when he had too much work. Now he returns and goes to see Annie, but she is still annoyed because he has not written to her at all in six weeks. Yet, at the end of this visit Annie has melted a bit. It is nice to see that Nate wants to marry Annie, but he has nothing to offer as his job doesn’t get him enough to offer Annie what he feels Annie deserves. I really love their relationship. After what she has gone with her husband, she has a right to find a good man who treats her as she deserves. She and Nate are so cute together, and I love it when they are together.