My book review of 'The Mysterious Mrs Hood' by Kim Donovan

by Kim Donovan
The Mysterious Mrs Hood
by Kim Donovan

I was recommended this book by a friend who knows the author. Kim Donovan is a librarian in Sussex who discovered that her great-great-aunt had been murdered in Great Yarmouth in the 19th century, her body left on the beach.

With this link to Suffolk, and knowing a little of the author's story in coming to write the book, I was intrigued.

The book certainly hooked me from the start. It is very atmospheric of the period and I felt compelled to know what had happened to this unfortunate woman who had travelled to Suffolk from London with her baby to stay in a guest house.

When her body is found on the beach, the police first have to establish who she is and whether anyone in the area knew her. As their investigations continue, they have to break the tragic news to her husband, who then falls under suspicion of the crime.

When an arrest is made and a trial date set, the book then details the court proceedings. And I confess that I found this aspect of the story too dense for me - it needed a little unpacking. However, for anyone interested in family and social history it's an extraordinary read, drawing on letters, newspapers and archive materials and gives an amazing insight to lives of this period.  

The author concludes with a devastating fact, stated in just a couple of sentences. It left me feeling rather shell shocked. It's a fascinating book which has stayed with me. 

Date of this review: February 2024
Book publication date: 22nd February 2024