The Mermaid in the Basement: A Lady Trent Mystery

The Mermaid in the Basement - Gilbert Morris The title was so intriguing, I couldn't help myself! This is the first book I've read by this author. I'm not certain if I'd like any of his other series, but I do like this one.Lady Trent is no ordinary heroine. Yes, she's plucky and smart and independent. But she's also a scientist in her own right -- she can even perform autopsies! Yes, there is a "secret" that has made her keep her emotions in check, to the point of being icy to everyone but her beloved son, David. She is a rational woman. And she becomes the strength and sense for her family when her younger brother, Clive, is arrested and throw in jail for murdering the actress who publicly humiliated him just the night before.Because the circumstantial evidence is so strong against him, Lady Trent decides to do her own investigating. Because her brother's alibi is only drunken memories of being in unsavory places with unsavory people, Lady Trent has to team up not only with someone who can protect her, but who can also navigate the seamier side of London. That man, of course, is very handsome. And an actor. And most surprisingly, a Christian man, who lives and breathes his faith. Will these two people from such different worlds be able to find the evidence needed to prevent Clive from hanging? Will they find friendship or even love along the way? And if they do, how will they overcome their differences in backgrounds and faith, or lack of it?I did enjoy the book, and I found the mystery to be well-written. The whodunnit seemed obvious to me in the last 1/3rd of the book, but it was played well, with plenty of red herrings.As I was reading, it struck me that this book reminded me of The Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourn. Or rather, a version of Lady Julia that integrates faith and Christianity. There are many similarities between the two stories and the two heroines. What I wasn't so sure that I enjoyed is that the actor, Dylan, has such an easy faith, and yet he has no problem breaking and entering to find clues for Lady Trent -- and more than once! Dylan didn't hesitate, nor did he talk about feeling guilty or asking for forgiveness. That seemed odd to me for a character that is so obviously a man of God.And I wondered at the characterizations of Lady Trent's family. Her father and mother seem so... out of it. They're virtually useless in solving or resolving the matter with Clive. I'd thought, at least, that her father (a noted scientist and doctor) would be able to provide an important clue. I also see a very "American" sensibility in a Victorian book. The class boundaries are clearly crossed with associations, friendships, and romance. Love over-rules all....But I'm intrigued enough to venture into Book #2.