A delightful bonbon of a mystery-slash-fancy-people-having-romantical-problems-in-England-between-the-wars. The heroine verges on "inexplicably interfA delightful bonbon of a mystery-slash-fancy-people-having-romantical-problems-in-England-between-the-wars. The heroine verges on "inexplicably interfering for no good reason," and class issues are almost entirely unexamined except in passing, but people wear fabulous dresses and operate under unspoken social strictures, and the heroine's husband is suitably mysterious/charming in a way that is an utter delight to read about, even if you'd want to punch him in real life. Totally reading the next one....more
It would be unfair to excoriate this novel just because of its one-note, hamhanded depiction of women, as characters of all genders get short shrift.It would be unfair to excoriate this novel just because of its one-note, hamhanded depiction of women, as characters of all genders get short shrift. And true, it's only the two protagonists that get a hand-waving of interior life or individual motivations, but the difference between the way the male protag and the female protag are treated is a bit depressing. Ugh, yes, from page one you know that they're the romantic end game of the series (which seems to be proceeding glacially if reviews of the other books in the series are any indication), but the sneering contempt for the male protagonist's current girlfriend comes through even in the bits that are supposed to make her appealing. I just - I'm tired of mysteries where all the dead bodies are women, where the sexual appeal of every female character must be discussed at some point, where even when there are multiple women present onscreen, the vast, vast majority of them exists solely to revolve around men, be abused by men, provide motivation for men.
Yes, I picked this up because I was going to the Lake District and wanted something to read while I was there that was set there, too. Thankfully I put it down immediately and did not besmirch my trip with mediocre reading material; picked it up again at the end of the year just for completionist's sake. ...more
This is the book I wanted The Secret History to be. I vastly prefer Cassie to whateverhisnamewas as narrator, and this book satisfies my fondness forThis is the book I wanted The Secret History to be. I vastly prefer Cassie to whateverhisnamewas as narrator, and this book satisfies my fondness for both lyrical musings and messing about with genre structure....more
It really is the unholy love child of P.G. Wodehouse and a Guy Ritchie film. The plot is only there as the barest skeleton on which to hang a distinctIt really is the unholy love child of P.G. Wodehouse and a Guy Ritchie film. The plot is only there as the barest skeleton on which to hang a distinctive narrative voice and clever wordplay, until it kicks you in the teeth (so to speak) with unexpected feeling. Even that, though, is a dash at the end; the reason you should read this book is the sleazy, insidious charm of Mortdecai's first person narration, who is Bertie Wooster with a dash more competence but acres more moral ambiguity. ...more
This series was recommended ever so thoroughly to me, as it seems to be absolutely my thing (England, lady mystery-solver, historical setting), and IThis series was recommended ever so thoroughly to me, as it seems to be absolutely my thing (England, lady mystery-solver, historical setting), and I think it simultaneously a) was oversold to me and 2) has elements I just don't like. It's terribly competent in doing its thing; I just don't like the thing.
I was expecting, I don't know, something more serious. I was not expecting to be introduced to a forcibly whimsical cast of characters. I was not expecting a romance-novel-style asshole hero. I was not expecting the heroine to make quite so many boneheaded moves.
I think it's that this is written like a certain kind of romance novel that does not work for me (some do, and I enjoy them thoroughly, but my tastes are very specific), except there's not a romantic resolution at the end of the first book, plus there's some dead people and some mystery solvin'. This again should be right up my alley, but the execution fell down for me.
Mostly I just cannot make myself be allured by a hero who says, "If you do X, I will not be responsible for my actions." No, jackass. You're always responsible. To place the blame for your actions - presumably harmful ones - on the heroine, in order to control her? Yeah. I'm checked out and could care less whether your emotionally stunted wooing over corpses is successful. This is a certain brand of romance hero who has little more personality than "hot" and "brooding" by which I remain utterly unentranced. Also, I will admit my bias for a clever heroine, and so far Lady Julia isn't cutting it.
All that, and I still give it three stars. It was competent, yes, and I will read at least a couple of sequels. It almost scratches the itch, and it remains to be seen if the other books magnify the problems or resolve them. ...more