Sunday, October 31, 2021

Invaluable Resource for Historical Mystery Readers


Otto Penzler, Editor
Vintage Crime, Black Lizard
October 19, 2021

The Big Book of Victorian Mysteries is a comprehensive reference to the detective short stories published during the Victorian and Edwardian Eras. While some of these stories were published earlier, the massive success of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes' adventures kicked off a bumper crop of authors trying to match his success. In the Big Book, we see such literary luminaries as Charles Dickens, WilkieCollins, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, and Guy de Maupassant trying their hands at the detective short story, to greater or lesser success. Most of the other authors were not so familiar, at least to me. Many are unknown to today's reader.  

Otto Penzler has written a brief introduction to each story with helpful background on the story and author. I was delighted to find the first mystery stories featuring the female detective, much different from today's market! It's impossible to pinpoint a favorite story in such a massive collection, but these display the panoply of British society from high to low and a considerable degree of inventiveness. It struck me that the authors and the British reading public must have had a fascination with all things "exotic," from fine jewels (usually from foreign lands) and unusual detectives with unusual methods. One even used an Indian snake-charmer to aid him in his investigations. I expect this fascination can be attributed to the immense expansion of the British Empire in the era.

The Big Book of Victorian Mysteries is an invaluable addition to the shelf of the scholar, collector, and readers of detective stories. I highly recommend it as a "bedtime" book as well. Thanks to NetGalley and Black Lizard for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4-Stars

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Murder and Kakaoke


Cherie Priest
Atria Books
October 26, 2021

I first read Steampunk when I was introduced to Cherie Priest's Century Trilogy, which is still far and away my favorite in the genre. Her other work is mainly in the Horror field, not my cup of tea. I have also been in a bit of a reading "slump" and thought that a new mystery by Cherie Priest would be just what I needed to blast me out. I was right!

Leda Foley is a thirty-something who is trying to start up a travel agency in her hometown Seattle. She is also a psychic with a highly spotty and untrustworthy ability. Her ability has never done anyone any good, least of all her. She has been trying to hone her abilities by performing at her favorite local bar. One might think that nobody uses a travel agency anymore. Still, it turns out a few clients are willing to pay an agency just to avoid the aggravation of searching for flights and accommodations online. When she got a strong feeling that a client wouldn't get off his booked flight alive, she promptly changed it to a later flight. Her client, Grady Merritt, was irate until he watched the plane he was booked on exploding on take-off. Grady, a Seattle Police detective, is intrigued enough to approach Leda about helping him solve a cold case that is driving him crazy. She explains to him that her abilities are far from consistent but has a case of her own. Her fiance, Tod, was murdered 3 years earlier, and there has been no resolution. The two form a partnership, aided (?) by her bartender bestie, Niki.

Grave Reservations has a likable heroine and a wealth of sidekick characters, all of whom are quirky and devoted to her. The mystery is fast-moving and kept me reading. Grady and Leda make a good team, and I only hope that this is the beginning of a new series. Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advance copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-5 Stars