Death at the Emerald by R.J. Koreto

Death at the Emerald

An elderly family friend commissions Frances to find Helen, a stunningly beautiful actress who vanished 30 years ago. Taking on the role of the Lady Sherlock, with her loyal maid Mallow drafted as her Watson, Frances immerses herself in the glamorous world of Edwardian theater and London's latest craze—motion pictures.Frances' first stop is the venerable Emerald Theatre, w...

Title:Death at the Emerald
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Edition Language:English

Death at the Emerald Reviews

  • Jean Kolinofsky

    I would like to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

    Lady Frances Ffolkes is a most unconventional character in Edwardian England. She is a suffragist who studies martial arts and prefers to travel through the city by bicycle rather than carriage. She has been involved in several investigations and has now settled into the role of private detective. Just as Sherlock had Watson, Lady Frances has Mallow, her maid who assists her on her i

    I would like to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

    Lady Frances Ffolkes is a most unconventional character in Edwardian England. She is a suffragist who studies martial arts and prefers to travel through the city by bicycle rather than carriage. She has been involved in several investigations and has now settled into the role of private detective. Just as Sherlock had Watson, Lady Frances has Mallow, her maid who assists her on her inquiries.

    In R.J. Koreto’s third installment in this series, Lady Frances is hired by Lady Torrence to find her daughter Louisa, who disappeared thirty years earlier. Louisa is traced to the Emerald Theater, where she changed her name to Helen. She was a beautiful addition to the Green Players and captured the hearts of four men at the theater. The four made an agreement to support whoever she chose, but when she chooses the theater’s accountant, one of them breaks the pact. With her husband murdered, Helen disappears. When Lady Frances begins asking questions at the Emerald, one of Helen’s former suitors is murdered and she finds herself being followed by a threatening figure. She is not one to give up and is determined to discover Louisa’s fate and put Lady Torrence’s mind at rest.

    Koreto uses illusion and misdirection to hide the identity of Lady Frances’ stalker and Helen’s fate. The investigation takes her behind the scenes at the theater and into a studio in the early days of motion pictures. Her discoveries are often surprising and she reveals her solution using stagecraft at the Emerald. Fans of Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series or Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series will find an irresistible character in Lady Frances Ffolkes.

  • Linda

    "All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players."

    And sometimes the role we play revolves around the complicated, the intense, and the ever-changing.

    Lady Beatrice Torrence, the elderly widow of Sir Arnold, wishes to make amends before that role of hers meets its final act. She beckons to Lady Frances Ffolkes (Yep, that spelling is correct.) to join her privately. Lady Beatrice wishes to be discrete. Her secret has been contained within her heart for over thirty years.

    Enter Lad

    "All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players."

    And sometimes the role we play revolves around the complicated, the intense, and the ever-changing.

    Lady Beatrice Torrence, the elderly widow of Sir Arnold, wishes to make amends before that role of hers meets its final act. She beckons to Lady Frances Ffolkes (Yep, that spelling is correct.) to join her privately. Lady Beatrice wishes to be discrete. Her secret has been contained within her heart for over thirty years.

    Enter Lady Frances, suffragist, daughter of a marquess, and a self-made detective who knows well enough to keep the hidden hidden. Lady Beatrice asks Frances to search for her older daughter, Louisa, who fled the Torrence mansion to become an actress so many years ago. Raven-haired and beautiful, Louisa fit the draw of that eye-catching part and would command attention on any stage. It's 1905 in Edwardian London and the scandal would surely cast its shadow over this household. Lady Beatrice lets it be known at social gatherings that Louisa died of a fever on a trip to America. But now, old and remorseful, Lady Beatrice merely wants to know of her whereabouts and to say good-bye to her.

    So much passage of time will prove to be quite the challenge for Frances. But armed with her lively maid, June Mallow, Frances visits the Emerald Theater. It is here that Frances picks up on a curtain that doesn't seem to close completely. Light seems to pour onto this darkened stage. There are individuals who know more about a dark-haired actress of long ago named Helen than what they are saying. Perhaps Helen is the elusive Louisa who seems to have disappeared into thin air. The trail goes cold when it leads to a grave in the local cemetery. However, as always, it's not over until Lady Frances says it's over.

    R.J. Koreto presents the third book in the Frances Ffolkes Mystery series. Each book can be read as a standalone in a delightful romp through Edwardian London. Koreto has created his Frances as a bicycle riding, dojo self-defense artist, and a self-proclaimed detective with a niggling desire to solve the unsolvable. Together with her maid Mallow, Frances employs her analytical skills with hard-nosed determination. Koreto gets it so right with time, place, and historical action. Can't wait to see what Lady Frances will be involved in next time. Oh, and be sure to bring Mallow!

    I received a copy of Death at the Emerald through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to R.J. Koreto for the opportunity.

  • Ayumi

    I LOVED IT!!!! The best mystery/thriller book I have read so far this year! I finished this book 2 days ago, and I still can’t get out from Lady Frances’ world!! I’ve been feeling sad that I already finished reading this book, and I’m hoping to re-read it soon!!

    Lady Frances, a daughter of a former marquess and a sister of a current marquess, is a renowned suffragist and the first woman detective. One day, she receives a letter from an elderly woman, Lady Torrence, who is on her last attempt to s

    I LOVED IT!!!! The best mystery/thriller book I have read so far this year! I finished this book 2 days ago, and I still can’t get out from Lady Frances’ world!! I’ve been feeling sad that I already finished reading this book, and I’m hoping to re-read it soon!!

    Lady Frances, a daughter of a former marquess and a sister of a current marquess, is a renowned suffragist and the first woman detective. One day, she receives a letter from an elderly woman, Lady Torrence, who is on her last attempt to search for her long-lost daughter, Louisa, who has changed her name and had started working as a theater actress when she disappeared more than 30 years ago. Frances takes the job, and visits her last known site, the Emerald theater. However, at the interview of “Louisa” with her ex coworkers, Frances soon realizes that they are hiding something. She ends up leaving the theater without any kind of information regarding “Louisa” nor figuring out the name Louisa adopted, but soon finds out one of the interviewees, Mr. Mattins, is stabbed to death right after the Frances’s visit. Someone has killed him to keep his month shut. After his death, Frances sneaks in Mr. Mattins’ room and steals a box that was hidden under his bed. In the box, Frances finds several clues that would help her figure out what has happened to “Louisa” , including the first clue which indicates “Louisa” had adopted a name “Helen”.

    So the story is about Frances and her assistance/maid Mallow try to identify the killer and to locate “Helen’s” whereabouts. I have read many detective books, but this one was one of the best! Unlike the other books which reveal the killer in the beginning of the story or the ones you can easily guess, you can read this book through the eyes of a detective. In other words, there are lots of investigations involve, and you won’t be able to know who the killer is until the very end of the story! And not only that, the killer is revealed by a great surprise with a very dramatic way, and then you will realize that you have been deceived all along! For that, I praise Koreto for his skillful writing. He is very good at not giving away too much information and details for readers not to easily figure out who is “Helen” or the killer.

    I also liked the time setting of this story. The setting takes you to the early 1900s of London; Lady Frances being a noble born woman made everything a little bit more fun. For example, Frances and Mallow take advantage of Frances’ ladyship status a lot to interview people without being questioned lol And her social status helps them seek help from the right people when they need it.

    “ladyship is not accustomed to having her word questioned.”—by Mallow

    “She(Frances) is not accustomed to answering questioned.”—by Mallow

    I loved how the story reflected a mind and a role of women in early 1900s , too. Although Frances is being a very active feminist (she rides a bicycles, practices martial art, being suffragist and a woman detective, and believes in gender equality), she does however become uncertain and unsure of the choice of her profession when it comes to her fiance Henry. Regardless of Henry being extremely understanding and supportive of her profession, she gets caught up in thoughts of being a traditional wife and what the society expects of her and of her status. This element has expanded Frances character much more likable. Well, in my opinion. Because I think everyone can relate the feeling of the pressure society gives you. What you want to do and what you want to be sometimes don’t fit in the role society expects from you.

    Although this book is rather a heavy read with many characters and plots, I could finish it in 2 sittings. I just couldn’t put it down! Also, I haven’t read the first and the second books of this series, so I’m looking forward to reading them, too!!

    I rate this book 5 stars based on the rating below.

    (1 star: couldn’t finish, 2 stars: made myself finish it, 3 stars: I liked it💕, 4 stars: I loved it💕💕, 5 stars: loved enough to reread it!!)

    Thank you very much for reading my review!!

    I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

  • Misaki

    Such a remarkable story and also preferable characters.

    I am giving my best shot at reviewing this brilliant book that is one of the best mystery novel I have read so far.

    Lady Frances Efolkes is an aristocracy that her father was a marquess and now her brother. She is leading suffrage club in early 1900's society. This story, as her first female consulting detective in London, begins from submitting by her family friend to locate Louisa who ran away from home to be an actress in a theatre 30 yea

    Such a remarkable story and also preferable characters.

    I am giving my best shot at reviewing this brilliant book that is one of the best mystery novel I have read so far.

    Lady Frances Efolkes is an aristocracy that her father was a marquess and now her brother. She is leading suffrage club in early 1900's society. This story, as her first female consulting detective in London, begins from submitting by her family friend to locate Louisa who ran away from home to be an actress in a theatre 30 years ago. As Lady Frances pursues the trace of Louisa, she immerses herself deeply in this secretive mystery. Besides, she steps in glamorous theatre world to chase the veiled riddles.

    The plot has full of twists that fascinated and puzzled me till the very end of revealing which sets in dramatic scene appropriate to its splendid ending. Owing to the nicely done writing by author without revealing overwhelming hints, you can pursue the truth of this story by phase.

    I am also charmed by the characters and cultural background. The behaviors of each characters who belong to different class society are very interesting. Moreover, Lady Frances is tempting to advancement of ladies in society, she rides on a bicycle, lives in elegant residential hotel for ladies, learn Japanese martial art and so on, even some of her behaviors meet with opposition of her marquesses brother. She is extraordinary and her efficient to people around is amusing. Speaking of people around her, the trusting relationship with her maid, Mallow who is always loyal also clever and also the romance and future prospect with her solicitor fiancé, Hal, such a kind heart he has, are my favorite.

    The detective work that she making it samples by Sherlock Holmes is likable as well.

    This is the first book I read of this series, as my craving of more mystery I have to start over from very beginning from its series soon.

    Thank you Crooked Lane books via Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book.

  • Annie

    This is the third in the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series by R.J. Koreto.

    I was unfamiliar with the series before this installment and it works perfectly well as a standalone mystery. I will be picking up the others in the series.

    I really engaged with Lady Frances from the beginning. She's intelligent and well spoken and able to take care of herself. She and her personal maid have a sort of Holmes and Watson dynamic (which Lady Frances refers to often). They're engaged by an elderly family acq

    This is the third in the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series by R.J. Koreto.

    I was unfamiliar with the series before this installment and it works perfectly well as a standalone mystery. I will be picking up the others in the series.

    I really engaged with Lady Frances from the beginning. She's intelligent and well spoken and able to take care of herself. She and her personal maid have a sort of Holmes and Watson dynamic (which Lady Frances refers to often). They're engaged by an elderly family acquaintance to find out what happened to the friend's daughter over 30 years ago. It's the coldest of cold cases and Lady Frances agrees to investigate while maintaining at least some social decorum.

    The characters are easy to relate to and well written. The dialogue and narrative flow naturally and are enjoyable. It's a very light fun mystery and the fact that Lady Frances doesn't suffer any real social stigma from her very unconventional lifestyle or habits isn't a deal breaker.

    It reminds me a bit of Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple series or even Kerry Greenwood's wonderful Phryne Fisher books (but more chaste and cleaner :) I enjoy cozy period mysteries and even though Mr. Koreto's Edwardian London isn't slavishly drawn from real history, it's still easily recognizable as London.

    The mystery itself is well written and the denouement is satisfying.

    Four stars, well worth a look.

    Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher

  • Jessica Robbins

    For complete review check out my blog at

  • QNPoohBear

    A chance meeting with Lady Torrance starts Lady Frances Ffolks on a new career-private enquiry agent. Franny is excited to be the first female private enquiry agent in London and is eager to help Lady Torrance solve the mystery of her long-lost daughter Louisa. Thirty years ago Louisa ran away from home to join the theater against the wishes of Lord Torrance. By the time Louisa's father tried to find her, it was too late- she had vanished. Likely, Louisa changed her name but the theater folk are

    A chance meeting with Lady Torrance starts Lady Frances Ffolks on a new career-private enquiry agent. Franny is excited to be the first female private enquiry agent in London and is eager to help Lady Torrance solve the mystery of her long-lost daughter Louisa. Thirty years ago Louisa ran away from home to join the theater against the wishes of Lord Torrance. By the time Louisa's father tried to find her, it was too late- she had vanished. Likely, Louisa changed her name but the theater folk are like family and don't want outsiders intruding. Franny is determined to barge her way into the theater and get some answers. She uncovers some puzzling clues and when one of her leads is murdered, Franny knows it was not a simple robbery. Someone wants to keep her from finding Helen. Who could it be? Could it be one of the actors or the theater manager; Lady Torrance's son-in-law who is "someone" in the City or someone else with secrets buried deep?

    I absolutely love this series. The story feels very modern though it is set around 1905. Elements of this story are extremely timely including equal pay for equal work and sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. I can easily see Franny supporting Times' Up and Hal donating his legal services! Obviously, these problems that affect us today are nothing new. The Edwardian era was a time of change for women when they began to speak up. Franny is unconventional and modern but the excuse for her behavior is she was educated in America and picked up odd ideas. She never lets her class and religious bias show through, which I really like but this also shows the author is modern and not actually Edwardian. Mallow is more snobby than Franny! They remind me so much of Phryne and Dot in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Franny is not as daring as Phryne but is certainly paving the way for Phryne Fisher, Kate Shackleton and the other female sleuths that appear in the 1920s and 30s. Franny has cold feel about marrying Hal. I understand her concerns and would be worried about the same things, but Hal has proven time and time again that he isn't as conventional as he appeared at first. She should trust him more. No love interest for Mallow but I think she could use one. She had one but he seems to have been dropped from the plot.

    I dropped my rating to 4 stars instead of 5 because the story really relies on too many coincidences. I figured out Act II of Franny's little play long before she did. I probably would have quit when I figured that out and NOT gone to the lengths Franny did. I also didn't like how she broke the law to get crucial evidence and pulled strings to skirt the law. Even so, I loved the book so much I couldn't put it down. I managed to get halfway through before being too tired to continue last night but when I couldn't sleep this morning, I had to finish!

    The mystery was so complicated and involved so many people. Lady Torrance, like many women of her generation, had to put up with a lot from her husband, who does not seem like a good man, though not any different from any other peer. I like her strength and her willingness to accept the truth no matter what. She sounds like a loving mother who never stopped loving and longing for her eldest daughter. Louisa sounds like she was more headstrong and determined than Franny but finally grew up enough to realize what she wanted. I admire her for that. I identify a lot with her and her longing for independence. I wasn't sure what to make of her sister Sarah, Lady Freemantle or her husband at first. They seem like they could be complicated characters but aren't fleshed out much.

    Then we have the men who loved beautiful Helen. One loved her like a father, one loved her truly, one loved her madly and one loved the thrill of the chase. She was a Victorian Helen of Troy. I felt sorry for Mr. Mattins. He didn't deserve to die but he wasn't around long enough to get a good feel for his character. I felt bad for Mr. Rusk for not being able to withstand Hurricane Frances! He does his best but seems a little weak spirited. Quentin Prescott is an actor-you know the type. He's a stereotype in every way. Franny didn't like him and neither did I. Braceley needed a stay at a rest home for a good long while to get away from the drama queens of the theater and the lure of Helen. His story was tragic.

    Then we have the Shropshire contingent who know secrets they can't or won't share. Rev. Samuel Halliday seems like a kind, unassuming man. He doesn't know how to leave well enough alone though and could have ruined the investigation. His parents were Christian do-gooders of the mid-Victorian type Dickens loved to poke fun of but they seemed sincere in wanting to help. Emma Larch is an incredible woman! Franny and I are impressed by women who run their own businesses and families with equal aplomb. She's a little tough on her daughter, Susan, but Susan seems like a headstrong teenager without much sense. Emma is more worldly wise and has her reasons for being tough on Susan. I figured that out quickly.

    An author's note in the back explains the history of the film industry in Britain. That was a fun aspect of the book and I feel it must still be exciting to see how movies are made, especially in your own hometown. I hear the Ealing Studios tour is quite popular.

    I will be moving on to this author's series about Alice Roosevelt, an even more outrageous woman than Lady Frances Ffolks but I hope to read more about Franny in the future.

  • Crittermom

    I’ve encountered few historicals as cleverly plotted as RJ Koreto’s Death at the Emerald. Lady France's Ffolkes is an innovator, a feminist who uses her position to challenge convention, just as her lady’s maid Mallow is the perfect servant - a supporter and confidant who pairs acceptable behavior with acting as Lady Frances’s “Watson”.  Koreto skillfully paints a picture of a society in the midst of change, a society where class means everything.

    Lady France's Ffolkes is asked to investigate the

    I’ve encountered few historicals as cleverly plotted as RJ Koreto’s Death at the Emerald. Lady France's Ffolkes is an innovator, a feminist who uses her position to challenge convention, just as her lady’s maid Mallow is the perfect servant - a supporter and confidant who pairs acceptable behavior with acting as Lady Frances’s “Watson”.  Koreto skillfully paints a picture of a society in the midst of change, a society where class means everything.

    Lady France's Ffolkes is asked to investigate the disappearance of a young woman 30 years previous.  Her family assumes she is dead, but one family friend wants Lady Frances to uncover the truth behind the young beauty’s disappearance.  The trail begins at the Emerald Theater and leads them on a merry chase that begins and ends with murder.  Expect to meet a few historical figures and see how a motion picture is made.  It is an intriguing mystery where women’s issues play an important role.

    I highly recommend Death at the Emerald to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, particularly those set in Edwardian times.

    5 / 5

    I received a copy of Death at the Emerald from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

    --Crittermom

  • Catherine

    This review originally appeared on my blog:

    With two solved cases to her credit and deductive skills that rival the great Sherlock Holmes, Lady Frances's reputation as London's first female consulting detective is firmly established. In this latest installment, Franny is retained by Lady Beatrice Torrence to investigate the fate of her daughter who disappeared in 1875 after leaving home to join the Green Players theater group rather than become the companion to a

    This review originally appeared on my blog:

    With two solved cases to her credit and deductive skills that rival the great Sherlock Holmes, Lady Frances's reputation as London's first female consulting detective is firmly established. In this latest installment, Franny is retained by Lady Beatrice Torrence to investigate the fate of her daughter who disappeared in 1875 after leaving home to join the Green Players theater group rather than become the companion to an officer's widow abroad. Seeking peace of mind about her beloved rebellious child, the aging Lady Torrence asks Frances to either find her daughter or proof of her death.

    Lady Frances, accompanied by her loyal maid June Mallow, begins the investigation at the Emerald Theater, home to the Green Players, where she interviews actors and theater workers, some of whom were in the theater's employ thirty years ago and knew the actress. Several had harbored romantic feelings and were unsettled when the actress married someone not connected to the theater and left to pursue a life abroad. Although the information initially shared isn't particularly enlightening to the case, there is a hint of secrets yet to be revealed. And when one of the men recently questioned is found dead in an alley behind the theater, Lady Frances delves deeper into the past, leading her on an at times dangerous path to uncover the truth. She and Mallow work tirelessly and creatively to solve the mystery of Miss Torrence's disappearance and give closure to her family.

    Death at the Emerald is an engaging, entertaining mystery with a fascinating cast of characters. In addition to colorful theater folk, clergy, and people from different levels of society, there are cameo appearances by historical figures including the playwright George Bernard Shaw: King Edward VII and his mistress Alice Keppel (the real life great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles); and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female British doctor. There are also amusing references to Sherlock Holmes and a Downton Abbey flair, and I commend the author for his creative detail and historical accuracy. Although the book can be read as a stand alone, once readers make the acquaintance of the high-spirited Lady Frances, they will surely want to follow her adventures by reading the previous two books in the series.

    Koreto's Lady Frances Ffolkes series features a lead character who is an unconventional woman determined to blaze her own trail -- despite her privileged birth -- in a world on the brink of change. A titled member of the aristocracy, Franny refuses to be defined by accepted social norms, much to the admiration of her fiance, the solicitor Henry Wheaton and the dismay of her brother, the marquess of Seaforth, Undersecretary for European Affairs in the Foreign Office. Unlike her peers, Franny is an alumna of Vassar College and a suffragist. In contrast to other single young women of the time who live with their families, Lady Frances lives with her maid at Miss Plimsoll's, a residential hotel intended for elderly widows. She takes classes in juyutsu and rides about town on a bicycle. Comfortable in her own skin, Frances is considered "eccentric," "odd," and "mad" by those in her own social circle, but this memorable character is anything but that to me. And while each book in the series has a different gem in its title, the real gem is Lady Frances herself. I look forward to her continuing escapades in the books to come.

    Anglophiles, fans of stories with strong female protagonists, cozy mystery readers, and historical fiction aficionados are sure to be delighted by this series.

  • Svetlana Tishchenko

    Consulting detective, Lady (marquess’s daughter), a bride-to-be, a leader of suffragist movement all rolled into one very beautiful, smart and resourceful young woman.

    Would I read more of her adventures? Definitely.

    Lady Frances knows everything and everyone in London. She can get on with maids and the King himself. She can uncover truth and secrets in a truly Sherlockian style.

    I loved to read about her adventures, even though the narration was a bit too long in places.

    The Death at the Emerald is

    Consulting detective, Lady (marquess’s daughter), a bride-to-be, a leader of suffragist movement all rolled into one very beautiful, smart and resourceful young woman.

    Would I read more of her adventures? Definitely.

    Lady Frances knows everything and everyone in London. She can get on with maids and the King himself. She can uncover truth and secrets in a truly Sherlockian style.

    I loved to read about her adventures, even though the narration was a bit too long in places.

    The Death at the Emerald is long book. It is not one of your ‘quick reads’. You have to think and follow the thread all the time. Otherwise, you will get lost in all the name, clues and secrets.

    You’d get a wonderful picture of London’s Society life on the brink of 20th century, including all the progressive and regressive bits and tidbits. You’d also get a non-intrusive insight into upstairs-downstairs relationships of those times. And, of course, you’d get a mystery stretching years and years until Lady Frances came along and unraveled it all.

    All in all, everything ends well for almost everyone in this story. Lady Frances wins it all, including a wonderful fiancee. (Note to the lovers of chick lit – Fiancee here, as well as the relationship itself, is not the end goal and all consuming passion. It is a relationship of equals, a quiet but steady fire that will burn for a long time).

    Read on or read ahead. You’ll love it.


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