The story begins with Ruby Proulx and her fatherat a traveling fair in Canada in 1898. Ruby and her father have gone all over Eastern Canada with their travelling medicine show. Ruby's mother died in childbirth, so Ruby has been raised by her charlatan dad, and she knows no other life. Then one of her father's grand medical schemes goes horribly wrong, and Ruby, at the age of 19, is sent by her father to her aunt in Old Orchard, Maine. Ruby has never met her mother's sister, but she has to get out of Canada and must try to start a new life. Ruby is plucky, worldly wise and taught well by her n'er do well father the secrets of the confidence game. So with a little bit of luck and a lot of dissemblance, she hopes she can find a life for herself at the Belden Hotel which is owned and managed by her aunt Honoria. I liked Ruby, and I even enjoyed the spiritualist ambience at the Hotel Belden. There are lots of kooky characters which helps make the story enjoyable. I was disappointed though with the plot as it didn't seem to quite gel, and the mystery is a simple one to figure out. Not a bad first effort for an historical cozy mystery, but I would hope that Ms. Esteveo puts a bit more substance into future books in this series.
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