Because I Could Not Stop for Death: an Emily Dickinson mystery by Amanda Flower

One of my favorite cozy mystery writers has started a new series based on Emily Dickinson! Because I Could Not Stop for Death is the first in the new Emily Dickinson Mystery series started by author Amanda Flower.

It’s January 1855 and Willa Noble is on her way to a job interview at the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts. While she’s qualified for the job, her disheveled appearance leaves much to be desired. This job will be a much-needed stepping stone up the employment ladder for Willa, allowing her to save more money for herself and her younger brother, Henry. As Willa leaves after her disastrous interview, she is stopped by the voice of Emily Dickinson, alerting her that she has been hired for the job despite the housekeeper’s reticence.

Emily sees something in Willa that intrigues her, leading the two to strike up a friendship of sorts. Not long after starting her new job, tragedy strikes. Willa’s brother Henry is found dead, killed in an accident at the town stables where he works. The police label it as a tragic accident, something that Willa doesn’t believe for a moment. She is convinced that Henry was murdered. She confides in Emily her beliefs and her reasoning. Emily offers to help and the two start on a deadly chase for the truth that leads them all around Amherst to Washington DC and back. What they thought was an intriguing puzzle at the beginning weaves the two into a web of corruption and political intrigue that could destroy Willa, Emily, and the entire Dickinson family.

This intro to a new series blew me away. It’s more than just a cozy mystery, instead it is also a historical cozy! The fact that the story is told by a housemaid in the Dickinson household was interesting as readers get to learn more about Emily’s life from an outsider. I particularly enjoyed the cast of characters in this book. They all have vivid descriptions and interact with each other fairly frequently. The setting also plays a large role in the plot of the story. Readers travel the streets of Amherst and then take the train to Washington DC to visit the Dickinson patriarch. Seeing mid-1800s Washington DC through the eyes of the character allows readers to experience briefly what time really was like in such a historical place. This book was darker than other titles written by the same author, but if you enjoy historical mysteries, cozy mysteries, and amateur sleuths, you’ll enjoy this title.

Emily Dickinson Mystery series

  1. Because I Could Not Stop for Death (2022)
  2. I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died (2023)

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