One of the best discoveries I made is the series by Bella Ellis (pseudonym of writer Rowan Coleman). She wrote four novels in which the Bronte sisters are detectives who solve murders and other mysteries. It should not work and in the hand of a lesser writer I think it would not have worked, but the books by Bella Ellis are amazing.
She pairs a lot of knowledge about the Brontes with good plots, although the mysteries are not the most important part of the books, the relationship between the siblings is the most important. Bella Ellis also gives each sibling their own, distinct voice, which I absolutely loved, since this is very well done. I also really liked how all kinds of details from their own novels are used, and often I thought: Oh, that is where they got the idea from, which is nonsense of course, but it shows how well Bella Ellis writes.
There are four books in the series and as I understand there will be no more books. The books all begin with Charlotte, looking back on the years her siblings were still alive and the adventures they had.
The vanished bride (2019)
In this book we start in 1845 and the sisters have a dream of becoming published authors. But then they hear an old friend from Charlotte from school who works as a governess nearby, has made a terrible discovery. She found the room of her mistress empty, but a lot of blood tells there has been a crime. Who is responsible, her huisband, gypsies or even her own parents?
The sisters decide to solve the case as lady detectors, after the newly formed detectors squad formed in London. They will use their wit, fantasy and considerable intelligence to find clues, and work out what has happened.
The diabolical bones (2020)
After the gruesome events of the previous months, the sisters are a bit agitated. It is winter, and the snow prevents them from going out much. The discovery of bones in a chimney stir the sisters into action. They want to know who killed the child, what role the orphanage played and what the significance is of the catholic medal that is found near the bones.
Charlotte, Emily and Anne need all their wits and courage to solve this crime, and even have to consult a wise-woman in Lancashire.
The red monarch (2021)
For this book the siblings need to travel to London. Lydia Robinson, the former pupil of Anne, is in big trouble. She ran away to get married and now lives in poverty in London. Her husband Harry took something away from a criminal gang, lead by The red monarch. The gang kidnapped Harry and threatens to kill him unless the item is returned.
The siblings encounter many strange people in the strange world of London and the even stranger world of the theatre. And often it is not clear who is an enemy and who is an ally.
A gift of poison (2023)
In this final book Emily and Anne have had their books accepted by a publisher, but Charlottes work has been refused. This hurts of course, but Charlotte is already working on a new novel. The sisters are determined not to get involved in solving crimes anymore, since they do not want to worry their father, who is already burdened by the drinking of Bramwell.
But a Mr Lowood comes knocking on their door. He is an odious man, the former master of the workhouse in Haworth. He has been accused of killing his wife, but was acquitted at his trial. Now somebody tried to poison him, and he wants them to find out who did this and who killed his wife. If the sisters do not help him, he will inform their father.
The matter is even more complicated since Charlottes friend Ellen Nusey is coming to stay, and they do not want to involve her in this mess.
I loved how father Patrick played a more active role this time. This case was based on a real historical one, and it is very interesting.
In short, these four novels are absolutely amazing, both the mysteries themselves are good and well plotted, but I especially loved the portrayal of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, Bramwell and the other people in the family and circle of friends. Excellent!!
I am a bit disappointed that the last three novels are all in the same hardback version, with matching covers, but the first book is not available in that version, I have a paperback version. :-(