Review: Mary Wollstonecraft comes to the defense of a young artist accused of stealing a masterwork of Henry Fuseli in The Nightmare, the second mystery in this series by Nancy Means Wright.
The Nightmare is also the title of Fuseli's painting, which depicts a sleeping woman and the physical manifestations of her dreams. Or at least that's one interpretation. Some see something entirely different. Fuseli is frantic at its loss, and immediately accuses the first person he considers, one Roger Peale. Peale had once made the "crime" of critiquing Fuseli's work in print, and some within his sphere of friends — including Mary, who has just had her influential book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman published — believe Fuseli is just trying to exact his own form of justice. The police insist that Peale will be given a fair trial, but Mary isn't so sure, and embarks on her own investigation to find the thief … who may also be a killer.
The Nightmare is not the easiest mystery to read, though the character of Mary Wollstonecraft is delightfully entertaining. There are a great many characters, including a number of real historical figures, and almost as many points of view in the narrative. Mary often appears to be relegated to be a minor player in this game of whodunit, one on nearly equal footing with her maid Dulcie … who, it should be said, is delightful in her own right. This isn't a long book, only 250 pages or so, but it comes across as much longer in part because the murder mystery storyline doesn't seem all that important, being merely a backdrop to the actions of all the characters, who (other than Mary and Dulcie) are really not all that interesting.
Acknowledgment: Perseverance Press provided a copy of The Nightmare for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Nightmare: London, England
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The Nightmare by Nancy Means Wright — A Mary Wollstonecraft Mystery
Publisher: Perseverance Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2011
List Price: $15.95