Murder in a Mill Town is the second book of the Nell Sweeney Mysteries. Nell remained with the Hewitts as Little Gracie’s governess despite her dispute with Harry Hewitt. She mistakenly accused him of murder just to prove the innocence of his eldest brother, William. Thanks to Viola as she was able to stop August from firing her.
One day, a ‘Mr. and Mrs. Fallon’ came to Lady Viola Hewitt regarding their missing daughter, Bridie. The girl used to work at the Hewitt Mills managed by Harry. The couple initially went to him because he might help them urge the police to investigate. But he just meanly dismisses the Fallons believing that it’s none of his concern. Because of Viola’s kindness, she requested Nell Sweeney to find Bridie’s whereabouts. This time, Nell will be accompanied by her fine-looking confidant, William Hewitt. In their search for truth, a part of her past will also be unveiled as a dangerous person returns in her life.
Murder in a Mill Town is set in Boston year 1868. For me, Nell Sweeney Mysteries is the American version of Anne Perry’s ‘William Monk and Hester Latterly mysteries’. Though I find this more straightforward and fast-paced. P.B. Ryan used a character-driven method to move the story. She is good at describing the place, people’s behavior, and emotions. And she’s definitely a master of confusion. This book has an element of mystery, suspense and drama, that’ll keep the readers up until the end. Add to that the slowly developing relationship of Nell and Will.
Nell is an amazing female detective. Way better than the paid officers in Boston whose only interest is taking bribes from the rich. She’s a strong-minded woman, independent, keen on details, and knows how to manipulate a conversation to get the information she wanted. She has an incomparable sense of humor and a sharp mind which William finds attractive. However, her determination will bring her to dangerous places and situations. Luckily, this time, she has Will to go along with her. His knowledge in the medical field will be of great use particularly in conducting an autopsy. I’m happy to see him change. He even eliminates his opium intake though he still gambles.
Nell and Will have a good rapport and are on the same wavelength. They finish each other sentences every now and then because either one of them knows what the other is thinking. There’s an obvious romantic tension between the two. Nell tries to avoid it though they both know that the seed of affection is growing. Little Gracie is one factor that binds them. She’s one amusing and cute character. I think she’ll grow just like her governess. Tenderness, pain, and suffering will be felt as you read along.
I recommend this book to readers over the age of eighteen who love the combination of murder mystery, historical fiction, and romance. There’s a presence of gruesome death, several adult elements and detailed narration of sexual assault.
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. The minus one point is due to the unnecessary detail of attempted rape. All in all the story is engaging. And surely you’re going to be attached to the main characters.