It is 1826, and a young girl is sitting in the basket of a hot air balloon tied to the roof of her house. Ada is an 11-year-old genius and the daughter of Lord Byron. She is also a very clever inventor.
Ada is upset because her governess is leaving to get married. Then her new tutor, Percy Snagsby, arrives, but Ada is not pleased by this new development at all. Next, a young woman called Mary Godwin comes to study with Ada. Mary is the daughter of the famous feminist writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the political philosopher, William Godwin.
Ada’s first meeting with Mary is not a great success. Ada is good with numbers and facts, but not so good with people. However, Ada begins to realise that Mary is both intelligent and intuitive. Gradually, the girls get to know each other and start to become friends. Together, Ada and Mary decide to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, in order to solve interesting mysteries. Their first case concerns a missing moonstone necklace.
Rebecca Verdigris’ necklace has been stolen, and her maid, Rose, has confessed. However, Rebecca believes her maid to be innocent. Mary and Ada go to speak to the family. There are several suspects, including Lady Verdigris (Rebecca’s mother), Mr Datchery (Rebecca’s fiancé) and Mr Abernathy (a wealthy family friend). Who stole the necklace? Will they catch the real thief? And who are those men who keep following them?
This is a fun historical mystery inspired by Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone. It features two bright and go-ahead heroines, along with many other characters drawn from history, such as Charles Dickens, Charles Babbage and Percy Shelley. The author has tweaked the dates a little, to enable the fictional girls to meet (in real life, Mary was, in fact, 14 years older than Ada), but other historical details are more accurate. It is a fun and fast-paced story that engages the reader from beginning to end, whilst bringing famous historical characters to life.