Monday, August 26, 2019

Book Review - A Talent for Murder

A Talent for Murder (Agatha Christie #1)
Author:  Andrew Wilson
Publisher:  Atria Books
Publication Date:  July 11, 2017
3.5 Stars

In December 1926, Agatha Christie went missing for eleven days.  Once found, she seemed confused, and offered no explanation for her disappearance.  The cause of her disappearance and the persisting questions about what occurred during those days have left fans and historians looking for answers.  In this book, Andrew Wilson takes well known facts from the case and uses them as the backbone for his fictional account of what occurs during Christie’s missing days.  In doing so, he creates a very intriguing and mysterious insight into what might have happened.

This story starts with a bang, and Agatha Christie is almost immediately accosted by a doctor by the name of Kurs.  He tries to blackmail Agatha by threatening to expose her husband’s affair and her brother’s alcohol and drug addictions.  He tells her, “the newspapers would be very interested to hear about the crimes and misdemeanors of a mystery novelist’s family.”  When this doesn’t sufficiently grasp her in his clutches, he resorts to threats against her daughter’s well being.  Dr. Kurs tells her that the price of his silence is that she must murder his wife.  He has everything planned out up to, and following the murder.  Agatha is to follow his plans to a T and then decide on the actual murder plan herself.  The rest of the book details how exactly those eleven days played out.  During that time, Agatha struggles with the morality issues that have been thrown at her feet.  True to life, nothing is as black and as white as we would like, nor always as they seem.

I really enjoyed the steam with which this book took off.  I was quickly drawn into the mystery, and fascinated with the real life elements included with this fictionalized elements of the story. I think fans of Agatha Christie books will enjoy this story, not so much as an answer to those missing days, but as another mystery to be solved.  The author has written a sequel to this book which I definitely plan to read.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Book Review - Pride, Prejudice, and Poison

Pride, Prejudice and Poison (A June Austen Society Mystery # 1)
Author:  Elizabeth Blake
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  August 23, 2019
2 Stars

Pride, Prejudice and Poison is a cozy mystery that takes place in Kirkbymoorside, a village in North Yorkshire.  Most of the key players in the book belong to the local Jane Austen Society.  Their current president is Sylvia Pemberthy.  Sylvia does not seem to be well liked, both for her governing skills and for personal reasons.  When Sylvia winds up dead, there is a long list of suspects to be sorted through.  That task falls to Detective Inspector Peter Hemming and Sergeant Rashid Jarral.  Farnsworth Appleby becomes the prime suspect when it is learned that Sylvia had been poisoned, and Farnsworth was the one who had served her the tea.  Erin Coleridge, a close friend of Farnsworth’s and crime aficionado, decides she must help prove Farnsworth’s innocence.  Erin quickly learns that solving a crime is much harder than reading about one, and it is much more dangerous.  DI Hemming works hard to solve the case before someone else is killed.

I went into this book with high hopes as I thought a mystery centered around Jane Austen and her novels sounded like fun.  However, I didn’t particularly enjoy the first 2/3 of this story.  The writing wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.  The plot seemed slow, and the characters were hard to connect with, both of which made it difficult to focus on the story.  The Jane Austen quotes were overdone and proved to be a hinderance to the story as well.

The last 1/3 of the book was pretty good.  The pace picked up, and I found myself more invested in the story.  I was anxious to learn the who and the why.  I enjoyed how the author wrapped up the story.

Thank to Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #PridePrejudiceAndPoison

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Book Review - The Old Man in the Corner: The Teahouse Detective

The Old Man in the Corner:  The Teahouse Detective (Volume 1)
Author:  Baroness Orczy
Publisher:  Pushkin Press
Publication Date:  June 11, 2019
3 Stars

One day while sitting in the ABC Teashop, Polly Burton, a young reporter for the Evening Observer, is suddenly joined, uninvited, by an old man.  She immediately disliked him, and became perturbed by him when he said, “Mysteries!  There is no such thing as a mystery in connection with any crime, provided intelligence is brought to bear upon its investigation.”  So began an interesting relationship between Polly and the Old Man.  The Old Man turned out to be an amateur detective of sorts, and Polly became enraptured by his tales and  looked forward to their next meetings.  These meetings were always by chance, and each time, the Old Man related a mystery that had yet to be solved.  He went through each case step by step and explained where the police had misstepped, and then he revealed the true solution.

This book is a collection of short mystery stories.  Each tale told is a stand alone mystery with new characters involved in each one.  I thought the stories were perfect bedtime reading.  They provided light, short mysteries that each had an interesting twist, but weren’t the type of plots to keep you up at night.  I enjoyed the logic enfolded in each tale, even if some of them were fairly easy to solve.  I did find one of the stories difficult to follow, but most were pretty good.  There is a second Teahouse Detective novel, The Case of Miss Elliot, that I plan to give a try.

Thanks to Net Galley and Pushkin Press for an ARC of this book.  #TheOldManInTheCornerTheTeahouseDetetive  #NetGalley

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Book Review - The Butterfly Conspiracy

The Butterfly Conspiracy (Merriweather and Royston Mystery #1)
Author:  Vivian Conroy
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  August 7, 2018
3 Stars

Merula Merriweather is excited to be attending a lecture for the Royal Zoological Society.  She is exuberant because she is going to have a chance to show off her newly hatched butterfly, Attacus atlas.  Her elation is slightly subdued, however, by the fact that she must let her uncle take credit for the discovery as the scientific community won’t recognize a woman’s contributions.  While at the lecture, Lord Raven Royston, questions the authenticity of the butterfly and encourages Merula to let it out of its cage.  After being let loose, the butterfly lands on the arm of Lady Sophia.  Lady Sophia gasps, turns red, and then crashes to the floor where she is eventually pronounced dead.  Some of the attendees jump to the conclusion that the butterfly may have been responsible for her death.  Because Merula’s uncle is considered responsible for the butterfly, he is arrested.  Merula, along with Lord Raven Royston, sets out to prove her uncle’s innocence.  Someone else seems to know what they are up to though and tries to scare them into dropping their investigation.  Will they be able to stay one step ahead and catch the actual killer?

I liked the chemistry in this book between Merula and Raven.  They worked well together, and while a romance may be in their future, this story was about building trust and friendship. Both seem to jump out from typical Victorian rules and seem to be themselves rather than what society would have them be.  They also share a mystery in their past that helps them understand each other better.

The mystery that Merula and Raven set out to solve is very unique.  How many times have you read a mystery book where the suspected weapon was a butterfly?  The mystery is even more complicated by the fact that they must solve the mystery using only tools available during the Victorian Era.  I also thought the solution to the murder was very clever, and it was fun to try and guess.

The end of the book definitely sets up for a sequel, and I’m eager to read it.

#TheButterflyConspiracy  #CrookedLaneBooks  #VivianConroy

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Giveaway Opportunity - Risky Biscuits

Head on over to Escape with Dollycas to win a free copy of Risky Biscuits.  The winner will have their choice of a print or digital copy.  good luck!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Book Review - Death and the Harlot

Death and the Harlot (Lizzie Hardwicke #1)
Author:  Georgina Clarke
Publisher:  Canelo
Publication Date:  May 13, 2019
4 Stars

Lizzie Hardwicke is a prostitute living during the Queen Victoria years.  Like many other prostitutes of the time, Lizzie occupation became one of necessity.  Unlike many other prostitutes, however, Lizzie lived in a high end bawdy house which catered to men of wealth, and it provided a higher standing of living for the girls.  A new wealthy client of Lizzie’s, a Mr. George Reed, is found dead, and his valuable items are missing.  Mr. Davenport, of the Bow Street Runners, is send to investigate the crime.  He immediately suspects Lizzie is the guilty party because she was one of the last people to be with him, and she was acquainted with his wealth.  Lizzie knows that no one will work to clear a prostitute’s name, and so she decides she must find out who the killer is.  Davenport says, “Then I look forward to seeing the results of your investigation.”  As the investigation continues, many secrets about the town players turn up, and the list of possible suspects grows considerable.  Lizzie must race to clear her name, and find the real killer before she must face the gallows.

The story has a very entrancing and unique protagonist, a prostitute.  Even though Lizzie seemed very kind hearted, I had trouble with her character at first, but it didn’t take long for her to really grow on me.  She is a strong female lead that realizes she can’t let a killer get away, and she steps up to find him, even when she must put herself in dangerous situations.  She even finds herself facing consequences with the madam of the house for her involvement.  Davenport, another major character, was very gruff when we first meet him.  However, his characters softens up, and he becomes a very likable character.  He goes out of his way to help Lizzie solve the crime even though both his time and resources are limited.

The mystery and plot of this story are very compelling.  You can’t help but want to read on as your learn just how despicable of a man George Reed really was.  Lizzie’s investigation becomes addictive to readers as secrets are ferreted out, and the suspect list grows.  I loved all the clues that Lucy picked up along the way, and the subterfuge employed to hide the real killer.  I particularly like the conclusion, and I can’t wait to read the second book in this series.

The author tries to be true to the time period, and even introduces us to the real founder of the Bow Street Runners, Mr. Henry Fielding.

If you are a fan of historical mysteries, but looking for something a little bit different, I highly recommend this book.

#DeathAndTheHarlot  #GeorginaClarke  #Canelo