Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Promising Series Set in Roaring 20's England

A Lady Adelaide Mystery
Maggie Robinson
Poisoned Pen Press
November 13, 2018

Lady Adelaide Compton buried her philandering cad of a husband six months earlier in the village churchyard. The husband, Rupert, crashed his car into a stone wall, losing his life and that of his French mistress as well. Luckily, the house and estate were not entailed, and Lady Adelaide inherited. It can't be said that Addie was mourning him, but she was observing the conventions. After six months in the country wearing black and making much-needed improvements to the property, she is ready to have a few friends down for the weekend. Little did she know that murder would be committed among her guests, and the ghost of Rupert would appear. It seems that Rupert can't go on to his eternal reward without some good deeds, namely protecting her. Adelaide reluctantly comes to realize that Rupert is real, and she is not losing her mind. The local constabulary makes a mess of questioning the guests leading to the arrival of Anglo-Indian Scotland Yard Inspector, Devenand Hunter. Since the year is 1924, an Anglo-Indian policeman, never mind one who has risen to the level of Inspector is highly unusual.

Lady Adelaide is a charming character if a little naive about the people she considers as friends. She also seems to be devoid of the built-in prejudices of her era and class and unfailingly kind.  The banter between Rupert and Addie is highly entertaining, especially before she accepts that his ghost is a reality. Before the murderer is cornered, an attraction develops between the handsome Inspector and Addie that I hope to see more of in the next book in the series. However, the murderer was more revealed than solved and found that a bit disappointing. 

I was looking for something purely entertaining; something to transport me to another era not so fraught with division and discord, and lacking civility. Nobody's Sweetheart Now fills the bill admirably, and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

3.5  Stars rounded up to 4

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Murder and Madness in the Name of Science

A Wrexford and Sloane Mystery #3
Andrea Penrose
Kensington Books
September 24, 2019

The third book in this mystery series set in the Regency Period finds widow Charlotte Sloane settled into better surroundings with her two wards, Raven and Hawk. Charlotte's secret career as the political cartoonist A.J. Quill is still a closely held secret, as is her status as Lady Charlotte. Only a few people know that she is an Earl's daughter who was disowned by her family when she eloped with her drawing master. Her investigative partner in the two previous books, Lord Wrexford, knows her real identity, but Charlotte is leery of letting anyone else know. That may have to change; however, when her childhood playmate and cousin is murdered in a grisly way, and it appears that his twin brother may be the murderer. The investigation leads them into the highest circles of the "men of science" of the day. Wrexford, of course, has complete access to those groups. It appears that the two brothers had gotten involved with another scientific group, the Eos Society. The Eos Society is secretive and up to no good. Could they hold the answer to saving her cousin from the gallows?

Once again, Penrose presents a well-researched look at the Regency Period. As the author points out, the era was the beginning of the modern world in its enthusiasm for science and exploration. Women also were just beginning to chafe at the restrictions placed on them by a patriarchal society. We meet several new characters that I hope to see more of in future books. Raven and Hawk are developing from the street urchins they were into distinct personalities. I am also enjoying the relationship between Wrexford and Sloane who are extremely well-matched. The growing romance is a nice addition but the intricately plotted mystery takes precedence. I highly recommend this series to fans of historical mysteries.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-4.5 Stars

Monday, September 23, 2019

A Complete Turn in this Long-running Urban Fantasy Series

Alex Verus # 10
Benedict Jacka
Ace Books
September 24, 2019

Fallen starts out with Diviner Mage Alex Verus in a pretty good place. He is working for the Light Council, and his friends appear to be safe. His determined neutral stance in the conflict between the Light and Dark Mages seems to be working at last. The lull will not last, of course, because of his association with Richard Drakh as a young man. The Light Council will never trust him. Drakh continues to try to bring his girlfriend, Anne, and Alex back under his control and overthrow the Council with their talents. A raid on Alex's home by the Council sets up a series of event that force Alex to take steps to add to his power, measures that he has tried to avoid.

Fallen marks the beginning of an entirely new trajectory in the series. Lots of loose ends are tied up, and Alex will never be the same. I am not sure that I am comfortable with the alterations in him but see that it for Alex, it is change or die. I am also mourning the loss of a significant influence on Alex, perhaps forever. As always, despite a somewhat slow start, the action is nonstop. Fallen is definitely not a stand-alone as the novel builds on the preceding ones. I recommend the series for fans of urban fantasy with lots of action, excellent world-building, and characterization.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ace for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Brand-New Series From a Gold Dagger Winner

Two Rivers #1
Ann Cleeves
St. Martin's Minotaur
September 3, 2019

The Long Call begins the first new series by the author of Vera and Shetland in twenty years. Set in North Devon, it introduces us to DI Matthew Venn, a very different sort of detective to the usual run. Matthew grew up in a strict evangelical cult and was expelled as a young man when he lost his faith. He is also gay, something frowned upon by the Barum Brethren. When we first meet, he is standing outside the funeral of his father. The funeral was by invitation and Matthew was not invited. Upon leaving, he received a call to a nearby beach and a body with a large albatross tattooed on his neck stabbed to death. His search for the killer will lead him into a web of secrets and lies involving the very people he grew up with. The community center run by Matthew's husband, Jonathan, appears to be closely linked.

Ann Cleeves writes intensely atmospheric, character-driven mysteries and The Long Call does not disappoint. This murder investigation is Matthew's first as lead, and he has many doubts, mostly driven by his past. Added to his worries is the apparent involvement of his husband's center. He worries that it's a conflict of interest. The supporting characters are well-drawn and memorable, especially his female investigating partner, Jen Rafferty. She is Matthew's opposite but serves as a perfect foil for his introspection. The supportive and loving relationship between Matthew and Jonathan helps him keep his balance in a case that destroys his previous beliefs about the Brethren.

Some might find that The Long Call moves a bit slowly, and I would agree. However, I like character-driven mysteries, rather than a fast-moving plot. There is plenty of action in the last third of the novel! Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4.5 Stars