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  • Published: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409087786
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

The Widow's Secret

Bella Wallis Mystery

Meet Bella Wallis: a charismatic Victorian widow with a sideline in sensationalist novels and a fierce determination to seek revenge in print for what can never be achieved in real life

Bella Wallis is a respectable society woman with a secret identity: in an office buried deep within the seedy backstreets of London, she writes sensationalist novels exposing the scoundrels that litter high society under the pen name Henry Ellis Margam.

So when a crested cigar case is found near the body of a murdered prostitute, Bella and her friends are determined to trace the murderer and write a mystery that will avenge the poor girl's untimely death. But the owner of the cigar case is a dangerous - and rich - man who has already destroyed the lives of others who have crossed him. Will Bella see justice done, or will she meet the same fate as so many of her characters...?

The Widow's Secret is the first in the Bella Wallis series of mysteries and takes us from London to Paris, from the highest of society to the lowest of the low. It is an entertaining, effervescent romp and a wonderful introduction to this most charismatic of women.

  • Published: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409087786
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the author

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson was born in London in 1935 and now lives in Oxford. He has written three volumes of memoir: Keeping Mum (2006), winner of the Costa Prize for Biography and the PEN/Ackerley Prize, Clever Girl (2007), longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, and A Corner of Paradise (2013). He is also the author of the Bella Wallis mystery series, also published by Chatto.

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Praise for The Widow's Secret

A neo-Victorian yarn that rattles on merrily and rings true. We are told that more instalments of Bella's exploits are on the way. Let them come, say I

John Sutherland, Financial Times

Thompson specialises in sharp, elliptical dialogue and brisk little glances into the murk that rises beyond Bella's window

D. J. Taylor, Guardian

Brian Thompson writes well and there's a rich vein of humour

Daily Mail

Entertaining, indeed dazzling. Dickensian in its humour, its vivid evocation of a criminal underworld, and the poverty and filth of the Victorian city


The Widow's Secret drops us headfirst into the realm of 19th-century sensation fiction - the lurid stuff of Wilkie Collins and old-fashioned penny dreadfuls. Although Brian Thompson is best known for his recent memoirs he's equally convincing on murder, mystery and the Victorians. As the curtain-raiser for a new detective series, this novel is a bold beginning. Thompson is clearly having the time of his life here. He revels in the vigilante justice, ribald talk and Dickensian grotesques at his disposal

Sunday Telegraph

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