The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen
After a humiliating mistake, lawyer Benjamin Booker resolves to never again trust a beautiful woman. When an old friend is killed, the senior partner isn’t satisfied with Bow Street’s efforts and asks Benjamin to investigate. Eager to leave London for a while, Benjamin agrees. Evidence takes him to a remote island on the Thames, a world unto itself, shrouded in mist and mystery. Soon he finds himself falling for the main suspect–a woman who claims not to have left the island in ten years. But should he trust her?
On Belle Island, Isabelle feels safe and leads a productive life, but fear keeps her trapped there. When Mr. Booker arrives with news of her trustee’s murder in London, Isabelle is stunned. She has not left the island, yet she has a recurring dream about the man’s death. Or is it a memory? She had been furious with him, but she never intended . . . this.
When a second person dies and evidence shockingly points to her, Isabelle doesn’t know who to trust: the attractive lawyer or the admirer and friends who assemble on the island, each with grudges against the victim. Can she even trust her own mind? While they search for the truth, secrets come to light and danger comes calling.
Not your typical Julie Klassen historical fiction story. No, not at all!
I have enjoyed other books by Ms. Klassen, and rather expected this one to be similar. But, I had barely began reading when I discovered how different this is from her others. Rather than having romance as it’s primary focus, The Bridge to Belle Island is a mystery story, full of murder, danger, and many suspicious characters. It does, however have some romance mixed in, and I found it to be an interesting combination.
Benjamin Booker is a relatively young (and inexperienced) lawyer and has just lost a case miserably. He was defending an accused, albeit beautiful woman, thought himself sure of winning, and then at the last minute, discovered himself on the losing side. Now, he’s not sure if he can ever hold up his head in London society, or even hang on to a shred of credibility. This is the beginning of the story.
But then, we get right to the main mystery of the story — the death of Percy Norris. At first glance, there is nothing to go on. Except some vague clues. So Ben is sent to beautiful Belle Island to try and figure out who committed the murder. Rather than finding the guilty party, he finds a lovely lady in Miss Wilder, and also meets her young niece Rose, who’s on the brink of marriage. Due to the circumstances of Mr. Norris’ death these are the two primary suspects.
Ben doesn’t want to get taken in by another pretty face, but, he can’t quite bring himself to believe either of these two to be guilty.
I really quite liked Miss Isabelle Wilder myself. Because of an old superstition, she hasn’t left Belle Island in over ten years. She’s taken the warning to heart that she was given many years ago, by her mother, “stay at home, stay safe”. (strangely enough, this almost sounds like a repeat of what we are hearing during our recent coronavirus pandemic) So many of Isabelle’s family members who left the island met up with strange deaths, and she’s quite convinced herself the same will happen to her if she leaves.
Ben is fascinated by what he finds there on the island. He decides to stay, look around, see what he can find. Seemingly, the evidence piles up…only, not in ways he thought it would. And still, he’s not really any closer to finding the culprit.
Ms. Klassen has given us a fabulous mystery. Full of twists and turns, and no clear trail in sight. I was kept in the dark until close to the end. Just when I had an aha moment and thought I knew for sure who the terrible villain was, the story turned another corner, and I realized once again that I was more in the dark than ever.
This book doesn’t go into as much detail about the personalities of the characters, or character development, as I might have preferred. But I think this is because it is more of a plot-based story.
This is an excellent book for readers who like mysteries. Or those who enjoy regency England. Or just plain historical fiction.
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Now for the giveaway….
EDITED TO ADD-winner has been chosen, just waiting to hear back from them.
I have a paperback copy of this beautiful book that I want to gift to one of my readers.
To be entered, just leave me a comment here on this blog post.
Giveaway open through Monday 5/25, Drawing will be held Tuesday morning.