This is the first novel in a mystery series with an interesting premise. The hero, Lord Wrexford, is a member of the aristocracy and very scientifically minded. The heroine, A.J. Quill, is a satirical artist, who seems to know facts about the murder before the police or Lord Wrexford discover them. The murder of a priest brings them together, working in tandem (kind of). The plot is an intricate one and while I figured out the villain halfway through (which I try never to do when reading mysteries), I like the main characters, I like the plotting (and the plot), and I like the time period. I also tend to give authors the benefit of the doubt in the first of a mystery series, and this book is well written, which is promising. I’ve already bought the second in the series! 🙂
I’ve been a fan of Anne Perry’s for a long time, and I was delighted to see that she had a new series. This is the debut novel of the Elena Standish mystery series. And while the book is a debut novel of a new series, it doesn’t read like a typical debut novel, probably because the author is well-practiced in writing historical mysteries. The writing is sure and the world-building is seamless. This particular book takes place in between World War I and World War II in England as competing factions of government either conclude war is inevitable because of Hitler’s rise to power (see Team Winston Churchill) or those who never want to put the country through the suffering from World War I again (see Team Neville Chamberlain). If I had a complaint, it is that the plot is a bit scattershot, but that’s a minor quibble. The book is an enjoyable read and the historical setting is an interesting one. Fans of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series will also enjoy this one. I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
This isn’t the normal setting for my preferred historical mystery books as the book takes place in the U.S. in the late 1860s, but I couldn’t resist the premise of a female Pinkerton detective. Abigail McKay is one of the few female detectives working for the Pinkerton Agency as a result of a tragic backstory (the details of which are unclear). She is tasked with tracking down a notorious gang called the Innocents. Along the way, she encounters discrimination, murderers, prostitutes, and a whole host of interesting characters, not least of which are the gang members that constitute the Innocents. A romance is hinted at but is presumably left to subsequent books in the series. I really liked Abi–the author depicts her as human and has her struggling with anger at not being taken seriously and struggling with grief and tragedy. The rest of the cast of characters are colorful and the historical detail rendered effortlessly. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one in the series, but I need to stop discovering new mystery series that are well-written and fun! 🙂
This is the 4th in the Lady Sherlock series, a clever re-imagining of the Sherlock Holmes character as a woman, with all of the societal constraints implied therein. Each book in the series has been excellent, and this one is no exception. An old friend of Watson’s appeals to Sherlock Holmes for help in rescuing some incriminating letters from a blackmailer, which requires journeying to Paris and visiting a mysterious chateau. Not surprisingly, complications arise in retrieving those letters. The plot is intricate, as are the many subplots. The writing is engaging and eloquent. And the characters are fascinating and improve with each book. My only regret at the end of this book is that the next book in the series isn’t being released until October. (Fortunately, my TBR pile is an extensive one.) 🙂 If historical mysteries are of interest or if you are curious about a unique take on the Sherlock Holmes legend, this book (and series) is for you. (And even if you aren’t but just like a well-told mystery, this series is also for you.) The series is definitely best read in order, and I highly recommend them all!
This book is the 14th in the series of Mary Russell (wife of Sherlock Holmes). This installment is particularly enchanting as it deals with Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock Holmes’s famous landlady. It turns out that Mrs. Hudson has a backstory and a fascinating one at that. The book switches between present day events (Mary is missing–has she been murdered?) and Mrs. Hudson’s past, which is somehow intertwined with the question of where Mary is. In addition to the mystery (or, more accurately, a series of past mysteries wrapped up in the larger current mystery), the book deals with themes of love, revenge, and rehabilitation and what shapes those can take. The mystery(ies) are cleverly plotted, and the writing is sure-handed and deft. And it is both fun and clever to theme this book around Mrs. Hudson. Four stars and I highly recommend it! (The series is best read in order–if you haven’t read any of the other books, you should anyway!)
In this current period of “social distancing,” it’s best to have large amounts of reading material on hand. (Not that my to-be-read pile has done anything but grow over the years.) Enter a Georgian historical mystery series! This is the first in a series featuring Alec Halsey, the younger son of an Earl and a career diplomat. I really liked Alec as a character and the secondary characters around him were well-portrayed and interesting. The plot also dealt with some issues you don’t typically read about in historical mysteries (no spoilers!) and dealt with them well, in historical context and with nuance. My only complaint is that the climax and ending of the book felt a little rushed. But that is a minor detail in a book that was well-researched with historical detail smoothly incorporated into the writing, an interesting plot, and lovely characters. I have already bought the second book in the series. 🙂
This book is the first in a historical mystery series. The protagonist is a veteran of the Napoleonic wars and has returned to England with no money, no prospects, and PTSD. This is no light-hearted and frothy mystery but, rather, a gritty story that exposes the underside of London life, some of the horrors of the war and the after-effects for the returning soldiers. (Think more in the style of C.S. Harris and less in the style of Georgette Heyer.) Captain Lacey isn’t a particular likeable character in the first book, although he has some excellent qualities to him. There is a complicated back story for him, which makes him an interesting and somewhat mysterious character. Sometimes the hints thrown off about his back story come across as a bit manipulative, but you do want to learn more about him. Captain Lacey’s unpredictability and depression weave through the story like a train wreck–you know what’s coming but you can’t look away. I actually would give this book 3.5 stars, but I also tend to give debut novels of a series the benefit of the doubt. I will definitely read the second in this series to see how the character grows and (maybe) flourishes. Fans of the Sebastian St. Cyr novels should definitely check this series out!
Historical mysteries are a tricky balancing act. On one hand, the author should paint a realistic portrait of the period and needs to include the necessary details to describe the setting in which the mystery takes place. On the other hand, the author should also write a compelling and interesting mystery. Often, historical mysteries fall into either the category of a history book with a run-of-the-mill mystery or the category of an interesting mystery with insufficient or inaccurate historical detail. This book falls into the former category. The author is clearly well-informed about the period (664 AD during a split between the Roman and Celtic churches) and writes about the shifting political alliances and complex religious issues with confidence and authority. But when I am able to guess who the murderer was within 10 pages of the murder, I know the mystery is not compelling. If you want to learn more about this relatively unknown period, the Sister Fidelma mysteries seem like a good way to absorb the information painlessly and easily. And I really like that the main character is a woman. But there are better historical mystery novelists out there–ones who can write knowledgeably about the period and produce a compelling mystery at the same time.
This is a perfect beach read, especially if you are Asian-American. The main character, Lana Lee, grew up helping out with her parents’ restaurant. Life goes a bit sideways on her, and she’s returned to work there while sorting out her life, putting up with her perfect older sister, and dealing with being the primary suspect in a murder case. Along the way, she learns more about her family’s past, tries to be an amateur detective, and meets a cute policeman. The tone is light-hearted, the heroine is likeable, and there are plenty of cultural references that resonate with those who grew up with immigrant Asian parents. The mystery is interesting without being too intellectually taxing. All in all, a solid debut to a series. If you are looking for a fun beach read, this is a good place to start!
I adore Georgette Heyer Regency romances, and I am very fond of her mysteries as well. This particular one is completely representative of Heyer mysteries. There is a large quantity of witty dialogue, acute and funny commentary on British societal biases, a somewhat cursory but adorable romance, and oh, yes, a mystery to solve. (I suspect the priorities of the author were in that exact order.) This book isn’t going to stretch your brain cells or make you think about it much afterwards, but it is an extremely pleasant way to spend a few hours. The book delivers precisely what it promises, which is a frothy and delightful set of characters who happen to stumble upon a mystery to solve and a romance to conduct. For those of you who like light-hearted British cozy-type mysteries, this book is perfect for you.