Miss Violet Strange (Maud Coats the Duchess of Wellington, painted by John Singer Sargent)
The protagonist of the mystery stories is Violet Strange. Violet is seventeen years old when the first book begins, in March of the year 1899, and Violet is set to debut into New York City’s high-society. The nine books in the series follow Violet’s detecting career and life through the rest of the year, ending on New Year’s Day 1900.
Theresa Strange, Violet’s Beautiful Diva Sister (Mrs. Waldorf-Astoria, painted by John Singer Sargent)
There is a short flashback to Violet’s childhood at the beginning of the first book in the series. There we see Violet as a child in March of the year 1889, when her beautiful older sister, Theresa Strange, is set to debut into New York City’s high-society. The events that take place on that fateful day will change the lives of all three Strange children forever.
Helena Dezilk Strange, the beautiful mother of Theresa, Arthur and little Violet Strange, sadly passed away from Typhoid Fever when Violet was a baby. That was when Peter Strange, Violet’s volatile, proud father, invited Helena’s bitter sister, Marlies Dezilk to move in with the Strange family to manage the busy household. But it was the ten-year-older sister, Theresa, who was a second mother to Violet.
But the events of 1889 make Violet lose her sister-mother. Greta Mueller, Violet’s loving nanny, mothers Violet from that moment on, and becomes Violet’s personal maid when Violet no longer needs a nanny. Greta spoils strong-willed Violet, giving in to all her charge’s demands whenever tiny-for-her-age Violet flashes her charming dimpled-grin.
Mr. Peter Strange, Violet’s Volatile Father (Henry James, painted by John Singer Sargent)
Greta has also managed Violet’s education, together with Auntie Marlies, so Violet is anything but dim. In fact, Violet is quite clever, observant, and perceptive. And Violet is intellectually aware of many of the challenges that she will face as a young society-woman in The Gilded Age in The United States of America. But Violet, at seventeen, is lacking in life experience.
When Violet learns there is a chance to reunite with her long-lost sister, she stops at nothing to make that reunion happen. She ropes in the help of Greta and her husband Josef Mueller, who is the Strange family’s coachman; of her scientifically-minded brother Arthur Strange; of the family’s lawyer, Hiram Brown; and of Mr. Pennymaker, the family’s butler.
But the most help comes from Mr. Joshua Burke of Burke & Associates, a leading detecting firm in New York City. With his help, Violet finds Theresa, and offers the love and support that Theresa always offered Violet. The Strange children are reunited, and the future looks promising, but it requires hard work by Violet to make it happen.
Mr. Roger Upjohn, Violet’s Supporter (self-portrait John Singer Sargent)
Violet must work, in secret, to financially support Theresa, until Theresa is able to support herself. Mr. Burke spots Violet’s talent for detecting, and appreciates Violet’s deceptively innocent, childlike appearance. He realizes that Violet set loose among high-society, will be like setting a fox loose among the chickens, and he is not disappointed in his hire.
The nine books in the series are about the highlights of Violet’s detecting career. But it is not only Violet’s life-experience that grows during the course of her work. Violet’s heart grows too, to encompass friends she never imagined she would have befriended, and to discover the love of her life in a man she could never have imagined would return that love, Roger Upjohn.