The Governess

by H.R. F. Keating writing as Evelyn Hervey

FullSizeRenderMurder at No. 3 Northumberland Gardens

The master of the house ordered his usual whiskey before bedtime, but someone served him a letter opener through his throat instead. And whom did a bumbling sergeant from Scotland yard suspect murdered him? Miss Unwin, the young governess, whose talent was for solving crimes… not committing them! Now, it seemed damning evidence could send her straight to the gallows…unless she found a way to catch the killer. 

Miss Unwin Investigates

Bright as a new penny, and incredibly clever, Harriet Unwin has a knack for criminal investigation. The most engaging young sleuth ever to snoop upstairs and downstairs. Miss Unwin is also one of the most charming creations of Britain’s popular and prolific mystery writer, H.R.F. Keating…

inside front page

“Stabbed?” Miss Unwin said. “Did you tell me that Mr. Thackerton has been stabbed? That he is dead?”

“Yes, miss,” Joseph repeated. “Stabbed. With one of the library paper-knives, miss. Stabbed.”

At last the words released something in Miss Unwin. She turned at once to the library door and, without hesitation, swept it open.

She had, as she moved, prepared herself against a shock, and the sight that met her eyes did not therefore discompose her. Mr. Thackerton lay sprawled back in his armchair. At his throat one of the Italian-work paper-knives was deeply embedded. From the wound, blood had touted out in a wide stream down the pure starched white of his shirt-front. There could be no question that the master of No. 3 Northumberland Gardens was dead.


This book was first published in 1983. I have a copy of the first paperback edition. I love the cover of the book. The Governess is the first in a Victorian Mystery trilogy featuring Harriet Unwin, Harriet works her way up from a workhouse childhood through ‘downstairs’ jobs to ladies maid and then to governess where we meet her. When her position is threatened by being accused of the murder she sets out to solve the murder herself . An old chum from her past, Vilkins, still at the bottom of the heap as a scullery maid, just happens to be working in the same home and aids her in her efforts to clear her name.

I found the book slow and I didn’t warm to Miss Unwin at all. I did have a lot of interruptions while reading this book and maybe that has something to do with it feeling slow. But I didn’t think about it or ‘want to get back to it’ during those times. She made a lot of silly decisions I thought and it was obvious who did commit the murder. The red herrings didn’t sway my thinking on that at all. The motive was a bit of a surprise and the very end was a bit climactic. Not sure I’d care to read the other two in this series, but maybe Harriet would ‘grow on me’.

This book counts towards Bev’s Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt – Silver Era – Blood Stain.

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