If Jane Austen had written Miss Marple, she would have been Dido Kent, the inquisitive spinster of Dean’s American debut, first published in England as A Moment of Silence (2008).
… the plot is fraught with clever red herrings that are resolved into an unexpected yet tidy and deeply satisfying conclusion.
A classic English country-house whodunit with a Regency setting that will delight Austen fans and mystery connoisseurs alike.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Dido is confined by Regency society's limited boundaries of acceptable behavior for an unmarried gentlewoman, but her warm, confiding nature and sharp intellect make her a nearly perfect sleuth for her time... Set in the same time period as Pride and Prejudice , this story and its quiet observations on human nature will appeal to Jane Austen fans.
Library Journal (starred review)
Dean's promising debut, the first in a new historical series, introduces Dido Kent, a single lady of a certain age who's not too old to regret she gave up the business of falling in love some years ago... Excerpts from letters the likable Dido writes to her sister further illuminate her sleuthing methods. Several red herrings keep the reader and Dido guessing. Regency fans will look forward to the next instalment.
The first in Dean’s promising new historical mystery series, set in 1805, features Miss Kido Kent, an unmarried woman with a penchant for solving crimes. The picturesque country manor where the crime takes place transports readers to another era, where appearances are of the utmost importance and family secrets are hidden with care. This is a well-written, multilayered mystery that unravels nicely, with attention paid to even the smallest details.
RT Book Magazine
Dean’s prose captures the spirit of nineteenth-century England , and in Dido Kent , whose keen powers of observation are matched by her sharp deductive reasoning, she has created an exemplary investigator.
The central character (of A Gentleman of Fortune) is believable, likeable, and convincing while the historical details are beautifully rendered, subtle, and unobtrusive yet adding an unmistakable sense of period and place.
The plot is full of twists and turns with mysterious visitors, disguises, and lots of secrets discovered by Miss Kent. There is never a dull moment and I didn't want it to end. Overall, a wonderful book which I recommend very highly. I will definitely be getting the first in the series and looking forward with great anticipation to the third.
Historical Novels Review (editor’s choice)
Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean is rich in period detail, transporting the reader to a different time where a visit to a draper’s shop or a walk down the portrait gallery in a manor house reveals many secrets. The relations between the different social classes are complex and through Dido’s discerning eye we travel upstairs and downstairs, inside the house and out in the village, making the necessary connections to solve the mystery.
...Miss Dido Kent shines as the very capable amateur detective; her elegant wit, sensitive observations, and keen intelligence make her an immediate favorite.
... Fans of Jane Austen who are well acquainted with the details of her life as well as her novels will delight in the moments of the book which bring to mind their beloved author. But Bellfield Hall is much, much more than just a loving tribute; it’s an intelligent, suspenseful mystery, elegantly written with engaging characters. It will appeal to Jane Austen fans and historical mystery lovers alike.