Last Spring, Amanda Flower won the Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel for Because I Could Not Stop for Death, the first book in her new Emily Dickinson Mystery series. This was an auspicious start to what is growing into a beloved historical series. The second book featuring Emily Dickinson and her maid, Willa Noble, as amateur sleuths is now available and proves just how worthy those accolades were. I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died, begins not long after the action in the series debut and expands on it in welcome ways.

Ever defiant Emily Dickinson is excited to learn that her brother and his new bride will be hosting one of her writing idols at their Evergreens homestead. Ralph Waldo Emerson will be giving a series of lectures to the professors and students around Amherst and Emily is determined to be in the audience. Wanting to take her maid—Willa—along with her is certainly unusual behavior, but Emily knows that her friend—after all, Willa is so much more than just a mere domestic servant—is equally interested in all things literary and she sees no problem with learning above one’s station.

The lectures are the social event of the year, and everyone is in awe of this man’s enlightened nature. As townsfolk scramble to get closer to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s inner circle of notoriety, the Dickinson’s have easy access but are also respectful of his time. Mr. Emerson has brought along his personal secretary, Luther Howard, who seems to have taken a shine to Emily’s younger sister Lavinia. But when a dinner party on the Dickinson estate ends in death, both Emily and Willa once again have to dive head first into a murder investigation.

Amanda Flower knows just the right details to include to bring nineteenth-century Massachusetts to life. She clearly knows the Dickinson’s biographies as well, since each of the family members become fully-fleshed-out characters with much of the alluded to action being either historically-accurate or at the very least historically possible. Of course, Willa Noble and others are invented characters—clearly needed to craft a mystery series where no actual murders occurred. Readers will be forgiven for sometimes forgetting that Emily and the gang never really solved crimes. That is testament to how convincing Amanda Flower conjures this imagined narrative.

Those that do know more about Emily Dickinson’s real-world acquaintances will be delighted with the arrival of another literary heroine of the time-period. No spoilers here, but this depiction also oozes authenticity and follows the known biographical information available. It is this loyalty to historical detail that makes Amanda Flower’s Emily Dickinson Mystery series shine.

As she did with Because I Could Not Stop For Death, Amanda Flower packs I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died with historical details that have the unique ability to resonate in today’s world. From racial inequality to immigrant rights, this narrative seems as timely as ever for today’s readers. Part of the plot deals with plagiarism and other literary crimes which are sure to appeal to this novel’s audience.

Emily Dickinson wrote hundreds of poems, so Amanda Flower’s Emily Dickinson Mystery series could continue for many years. That is delightful news for fans of these books and with the continued critical acclaim, the reader-base is sure to increase with each new entry. Like Emily Dickinson’s “certain slant of light,” these novels hypnotize readers and send them off on deeper ruminations.

BUY LINKS: I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died by Amanda Flower

Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.