Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

France, 1910s


Sister Beneath the Sheet

by Gillian Linscott

Here is a politically astute detective who is an active fighter for the rights of English women to vote. Nell Bray is sent by Emmeline Pankhurst to the fashionable French resort of Biarritz to claim the sizable legacy left to the movement in the will of a high class prostitute, Topaz Brown. The fact that Topaz had never expressed an interest in Nell’s movement and that her death is suspect, means that Nell must seek out the truth behind Topaz’s life. When it becomes clear that Topaz has been killed, Nell begins the dangerous task of tracking down the suspects, who run the gamut from circus performers to the judge who once sentenced Nell to time in prison.

The story accurately describes the disdain and even hatred of the general public against the idea of women getting the vote, and against the militant suffragettes in particular. Nell, one of the so called “vengeful viragos,” is, in fact, fresh from spending time in Holloway prison for tossing a brick through the window of 10 Dowing Street. In this story, however, in the interest of winning public opinion to the suffrage cause, she must try and thwart the destructive plans of a fellow reformer.

This is book number two in a series of ten featuring the author’s suffragette detective. We wish the author had provided background information. On the author’s Web page, however, we found this excerpt where Gillian Linscott lets Nell Bray speak for herself. “....While I was growing up, we'd always assumed that by the time I reached voting age, the suffrage would have been extended to women. When it became obvious that this was not going to happen I knew that any career or personal ambitions must give way to this struggle. I set myself up as a freelance translator to get enough money to live on and joined the most militant and effective of the groups fighting for the Vote, the Women's Social and Political Union, soon after it was founded by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903."


Our Curriculum Unit called I WILL NOT BOW MY HEAD
contains a section on England's Suffrage Movement.


Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
Click for Author Information

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