Murder By Misrule, the delightful debut historical mystery by Anna Castle, transported me to the Court of Queen Elizabeth I, where I learned that theMurder By Misrule, the delightful debut historical mystery by Anna Castle, transported me to the Court of Queen Elizabeth I, where I learned that the young gentlemen studying law at the prestigious Gray’s Inn spent as much time on fashion and frolic as they did studying.
This is the first in a series featuring the philosopher Francis Bacon, who uses his powers of deductive reasoning and the help of a group of young law students he is tutoring to solve crimes. Well-researched (with the sights and sounds and smells of late 16th century London beautifully recreated), Murder by Misrule is also enormously entertaining; a mystery shot through with a series of misadventures, misunderstandings, and mendacity worthy of a Shakespearian comedy.
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to find out what Francis Bacon, Stephen Delabere (the haughty son of an Earl), Tom Clarady (the dashing son of a privateer), Ben Whitt (Bacon’s devoted acolyte), and the diminutive Allen Trumpington (whose small size holds big surprises) will be up to next. ...more
What a fun debut mystery! In An Uncollected Death, author Meg Wolfe skillfully weaves together my favorite elements from both cozy mysteries and womenWhat a fun debut mystery! In An Uncollected Death, author Meg Wolfe skillfully weaves together my favorite elements from both cozy mysteries and women’s fiction. The protagonist, Charlotte Anthony is an engaging amateur sleuth, who searches for the secret that got an elderly woman killed, using her own intelligence and the help of a group of sympathetic friends. There are hidden notebooks, danger from very scary bad guys, and a suitably enigmatic romantic hero, all against the backdrop of a charming Midwestern college town.
However, Charlotte is also struggling with the real life problems that many adult women face, the loss of identity that accompanies first a divorce and then an empty nest and the paralyzing fear created by sudden unemployment in the middle of a recession. Wolfe’s thoughtful and beautifully written treatment of these themes and Charlotte’s triumph over not only the villains but the emotional and financial threats to her well-being are what makes me very excited to read the next book in the series....more
The Golden Dice is a wonderfully satisfying sequel to Elisabeth Storrs' The Wedding Shroud. In this book, the story of Lady Caecilia, the Roman marrieThe Golden Dice is a wonderfully satisfying sequel to Elisabeth Storrs' The Wedding Shroud. In this book, the story of Lady Caecilia, the Roman married to the Estruscan Vel Mastarna, is intertwined with that of two other women, Pinna, and Semni. All three women's lives are dramatically changed by the interminable war that broke out in 405 B.C. between Rome and the Etruscans.
Caecilia, now a mother and an assured Etruscan wife, finds her place in her adopted country increasingly precarious, while for Pinna, a former grave whore from Rome, the fragile security she's achieved traveling with the Roman army as the concubine of Caecilia's cousin, Marcus, is threatened by her love for a famous Roman general. The dreams that Semni, an Etruscan potter, had of becoming a respected artist are dashed by the conflict, and she struggles with her new status as a servant in Lady Caecilia's household.
In The Golden Dice, Storrs deftly weaves an enthralling tale of political intrigue, romance, corruption, and religious and cultural prejudice. What I liked most of all, however, was the beautifully nuanced stories she has written about how individual women tried to control their own destinies within the limited options available to females in this fascinating time and place. I highly recommend this excellent work of historical fiction....more
The Cry of the Peacock is a beautifully written tale of romantic intrigue set in Victorian England. Arabella and Mariana Gray, newly orphaned sisters,The Cry of the Peacock is a beautifully written tale of romantic intrigue set in Victorian England. Arabella and Mariana Gray, newly orphaned sisters, find themselves entangled in a web of family lies and family loyalties spun by the fascinating Crawford brothers. Arabella is offered what seems like a dream come true––marriage into a family of wealth and respectability––but at what cost? Her sister Mariana faces a future saving other young girls from ruin––but is losing her heart to a man who seems to embody the immorality that has caused that ruin. As in her earlier work, Of Moths and Butterflies, Christensen skillfully illuminates both the beauty and barbarity of a society in transition, while creating characters whose flawed humanity haunt me still....more
I have loved all the books by Myers I have read so far, but The Whiskey Tide just might be my favorite. This historical romantic suspense novel set inI have loved all the books by Myers I have read so far, but The Whiskey Tide just might be my favorite. This historical romantic suspense novel set in the early 1920s was completely satisfying on all levels. Myers provides a beautifully layered view of the period, the way that WWI affected the men who served and lived to return, the continuing divisions in American society based on class, ethnicity, and gender, and the way Prohibition provided opportunities for both economic advancement and corruption.
But all this wonderful historical information is skillfully and almost invisibly woven into the story of three sisters and their efforts to save their family from economic ruin. There is Kate, the middle sister and main protagonist, who represents the college-educated girl of the period who is forced out of her ivory tower to embrace all that life can offer a woman who challenges conventions, Rosalie, the older sister, who demonstrates that even a woman who embraces the traditional role of wife and mother can make a difference, and Agnes, the youngest sister, a flapper who learns the dangers of living a life of selfish hedonism and comes to understand she deserves better for herself.
The story itself is one of intense romance and heart-thumping suspense, as Kate risks life and reputation to become a rum-runner in order to save her family home. Her companion in this enterprise is Joe Santanya, a man torn between his deep love and affection for his family, both his Irish Aunties and his extended family of Italian fishermen, and his desire for a different future for himself. In their smuggling trips between Salem and Canada, Kate and Joe face deadly weather, gun-toting gangsters, a conniving uncle, and an attraction that may be the greatest danger of all. All of this is beautifully written and particularly enjoyed the scenes on ship-board, feeling I was really was there, battling the elements with them. The last quarter of the book left me literally sitting on the edge of my seat, delivering a wonderful and satisfying pay-off. I highly recommend this book. ...more
The Paper Doll Museum has all the elements you expect from a book by this author, beautiful writing, a tightAnother wonderful book by Abigail Padgett
The Paper Doll Museum has all the elements you expect from a book by this author, beautiful writing, a tight suspenseful plot, a wry sense of humor, a cast of quirky supporting characters, and a protagonist who is like no other you have ever encountered. Taylor Blake, retired English teacher and hip grandmother, like so many of those of us who are baby boomers, is trying to reconcile her internal image, which is stuck somewhere back in her twenties and thirties, with the reality of being a senior citizen. Imagine her surprise when she discovers the existence of her own personal ghoul who threatens her life and her sanity, a band of "Revenants" who are out to save the world, and her own supernatural powers.
This book will keep you turning pages, shivering with delight, laughing out loud (when you get to the department store dummies you will know what I mean), and begging for more. If you liked Padgett's Bo Bradley series, you will love this book And for all of those younger readers out there, those of you under the age of 60, well, you just may never look at your parents and grandparents the same way again!
When I discovered No Game for a Dame, Myer's first book in this series featuring Maggie Sullivan, it was a wonderful surprise. I loved that Maggie wasWhen I discovered No Game for a Dame, Myer's first book in this series featuring Maggie Sullivan, it was a wonderful surprise. I loved that Maggie was a female private detective along the lines of the hard-boiled male protagonists in Chandler and Hammett that could really hold her own with the tough guys. In this sequel, Maggie Sullivan starts out with a missing person case that turns quickly to murder, and I was again swept away to the late 1930s mean streets of Dayton, Ohio.
Tough Cookie (which can be read as a stand alone) has all the elements you look for in a hard-boiled mystery: good old-fashioned detective footwork, a wealthy client, a ditzy dame, loyal servants, smooth-talking lotharios, hard liquor bottles in the desk drawer, fast cars, and gun-play. I couldn't put the book down, and while I guessed "who done it," I didn't care, because I was having so much fun, right down to the end that totally surprised me with a twist. I highly recommend Tough Cookie, and I can't wait for the next installment. ...more
This is one of those wonderful hybrid historical mysteries that weave in and out of the modern present and the mysterFascinating glimpse into the past
This is one of those wonderful hybrid historical mysteries that weave in and out of the modern present and the mysterious past in a way that enchants. The main protagonist, Dory, is a history professor who isn't so sure she can continue to conform to the rules of academia, and her discovery of a 17th diary of a nun while on sabbatical in France leads her into to a world of ritual, self-mortification, and the Devil that feels so real it begins to challenge her rational hold on the here and now.
In addition, every one of the people she works alongside in the Avignon Archives de Vaucluse has a secret, scholars and staff alike. And when Dory, like her namesake Pandora, begins to uncover these secrets, the results, including murder, are unexpected.
For readers who like their mysteries to take them to new places, A Provencal Mystery offers beautiful descriptions of Avignon in winter, the cold mistral wind, the narrow streets, a country market and a medieval cathedral. The mystery itself is well-plotted, and Elwood cleverly uses diaries, legal depositions, birth and death records, and an oral history to develop that plot.
But it is the world of Rose the converse nun, as revealed in diaries, that makes this book extraordinary. I highly recommend it. ...more