So technically I first read this book in 2004/5, but I could never remember the title or the author in order to log it on here. I remembered a lot ofSo technically I first read this book in 2004/5, but I could never remember the title or the author in order to log it on here. I remembered a lot of details about the plot (really specific ones) and posted about it on a group here back in 2008. Lots of people commented saying that the book sounded really intriguing, but no one had any leads until 2014, when someone suggested this book--but I missed all the notifications on the thread as Quinn had just been born and we were moving house. Last month I suddenly started getting updates again, and discovered that someone had found the book I'd been looking for for eight years.
Given that I read this book when I was all of 13 or 14, I really wasn't expecting it to be that good, but I hunted down a used copy on Amazon and ploughed through it in a couple of day--mostly because Quinn had a cold and was only napping while snuggled up with me, so there wasn't much else I could do with my time. Although there were some scenes that I could recall pretty much verbatim, there were also a lot of details that I'd forgotten (including one major plot thread) so this reread ended up being pretty engaging, and rather suspenseful towards the end. So given the pretty low rating and lack of reviews on here, I was pleasantly surprised. The premise for this novel and the story that unfolds are pretty original and definitely kept my interest, both as a teenager and as an adult.
That said, this book is so 90s. There's a lot of un-political correctness that you just couldn't get away with in novels now, including one scene where a woman jokes that if anyone finds her with her lover, she'll cry rape. Hilarious (not). It's also pretty obvious that A. J. Holt is a man, even if the main character in this novel is female. With the exception of the heroine, all of the women in this book basically exist to have sex with other male characters. There are some awkward, if brief, moments of sexism and misogyny. I feel like this is probably standard for 90s crime novels written by men? There was entire course taught in the English department at St Andrews on the treatment of women in crime fiction, and I often regret not taking it. This novel thankfully doesn't have any sexual violence in it--which is one of the reasons I stopped reading crime fiction a few years ago, even novels written by women--but there were a few moments where I cringed. The heroine is pretty badass, but that doesn't make up for the weak characterisation of the other women in this novel. It's minimal, and can probably be easily overlooked if this isn't one of your typical pet peeves.
Honestly, that's my only main issue with this book. The ending felt a bit rushed and there was a lot of info-dumping to sum up the conclusion of the mystery, but otherwise I enjoyed my second read of this novel a lot more than I expected. I was just happy that I'd finally found this book after all this time, so actually realising that it was worth reading was an added bonus! If hippy communes, small town corruption, or unlawful imprisonment intrigue you, give this book a shot....more
I’ve been reading less historical fiction this year, but I just couldn’t resist The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder. I’m not sure what appealed to meI’ve been reading less historical fiction this year, but I just couldn’t resist The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder. I’m not sure what appealed to me most—the awesome title, the pretty cover, the not-so-typical setting (finally, a book not set in the United States!), or just the idea of two single women attempting to solve murders in 1910. The summary reminded me a lot of The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester, and that kind of closed the deal for me. I had to read it. Just not immediately, as I have a very active toddler who makes it difficult to find time to read. Still, a belated review is better than none, right? And this book was definitely worth waiting for.
The actual murder may not have been the most interesting part of the book for me. I think I was more intrigued by the character of Ray DeLuca, the reporter Jem runs into at the start of the novel. Not so much as a romantic interest (although I can see the appeal) but as an Irish immigrant trying to make a place for himself in the field of journalism while also sticking to his conviction to expose the truth, even if it upsets those who pull the political strings. His commitment to his sister was equally admirable. Honestly, Ray’s dilemma—stop exposing political corruption or lose his job—is very likely still relevant to modern day journalists. The world needs more Rays!
It wasn’t just the immigrant culture that intrigued me in The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, but the entire setting of 1910 Toronto. From the note at the end of the novel, it’s clear that Rachel McMillan fabricated a lot of the political issues she presented, but it still seemed like a fascinating city and time period, especially for young women like Jem and Merinda. The World Wars would soon open up new freedoms for women, but they aren’t quite there yet, and older generations have very different expectations for how young ladies should behave. I wouldn’t like to trade places with Jem or Merinda but I did enjoy reading about their attempts to subvert societal norms, and I was impressed with their bravery in cross-dressing. Christian Historical Fiction needs more heroines like these young ladies!
I didn’t guess who was behind the murders as quickly as I sometimes do with mystery novels, mostly because I was a) distracted by a toddler and b) more focused on the character development than the actual mystery. So if you’re not big on solving crimes but enjoy stereotype-defying heroines in the early twentieth century, I’d encourage you to still give this novel a shot. Jem is a very likable heroine, and while I did sometimes wish she stood up for herself more—particularly when Merinda pushed her further into a relationship that made her uncomfortable—her flaws made her all the more real. I look forward to seeing her grow more confident in the sequel, and I hope we also get more insight into Merinda’s character. She intrigued me, but I never felt like I truly got inside her head, so at times she felt like a bit of a caricature. She was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but maybe not entirely authentic since I didn’t know how she’d come to be so eccentric and determined to push aside all societal conventions and expectations. The bottom line: Merinda is great, but I wanted more of her!
While I didn’t completely love The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, I can’t think of any major flaws with it either. It could have been longer (it comes in at a pretty short 224 pages), and it could have had more Merinda, but otherwise I really enjoyed it. Rachel McMillan did a great job of developing the characters and the setting, and I’m eager to see what Jem and Merinda are up to in the next instalment in the series. For such a short book, the story was fantastically engaging and just downright fun, and I’d encourage historical and mystery fans alike to give it a shot.
It’s 1912 and Frankie George is determined to make her mark in the cut-throat world of journalism. She longs to write something that isn’t for the ladIt’s 1912 and Frankie George is determined to make her mark in the cut-throat world of journalism. She longs to write something that isn’t for the ladies’ pages, but she isn’t impressed when she’s given the opportunity to interview a famous trapeze artist and suffragette, Ebony Diamond. For all her trouser-wearing and bicycle-riding, Frankie doesn’t align herself with the suffrage movement—but that doesn’t mean that she’s apathetic when Ebony Diamond disappears in the middle of her big act, especially when it appears that someone is trying to hunt Ebony down. Getting to the bottom of Ebony’s disappearance would make for a great story, and prove to Frankie’s boss that she’s able to write about more than fashion and homemaking. However, the deeper Frankie digs into Ebony’s background, the more convoluted the story becomes. Who wants Ebony dead? Is it the politicians she’s angered with her suffrage demonstrations? One of the mysterious characters who frequents Ebony’s corset shop? Or a fellow suffragette who disagrees with Ebony’s extreme militarism? Before long, Frankie has to admit that she’s investigating Ebony’s disappearance for more than just a story. Someone wants to murder Ebony Diamond, and ruin the suffragette cause once and for all. Can Frankie get to the bottom of the mystery before someone gets to her?
Before I go any further, I must admit that the author of The Hourglass Factory is technically a friend of a friend. On a recent visit with my old high school librarian, she mentioned that my former History teacher had a friend who had written a novel about suffragettes, circus performers and murder. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up such a story. History? Mystery? Feminism? Count me in! I even told her that I’d write a review once I finished the book. I feel honour-bound to give my honest opinion of every book I review. This one? I adored.
The Hourglass Factory is a little outside my usual comfort zone. My historical novels tend to contain more romance and less mystery, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy non-romantic historicals. Lucy Ribchester thrusts the reader straight into the heart of 1912 London, from the cramped boarding house where Frankie lodges, to the murky corners of Soho where Ebony and her friends perform in clubs. Lucy details the tall, skinny buildings of Fleet Street where the newspaper offices are held, and the Police Special Branch that dealt specifically with suffragette matters. This is one of those books that sucks you in, and when you’re forced to take a break from reading, you’re rather confused to find that you’re sitting on a blanket in your garden in Edinburgh, not attempting to escape paying a fare on the London Underground or snooping around the back of a corset shop.
I may have studied a little about the suffragettes at university, but a large part of this study was devoted to the Duchess of Atholl—a woman about as different from Ebony Diamond as you could possibly imagine. Women like Atholl are often remembered for their rhetoric, but what of the illiterate, working class women who also fought for equality? Ebony might not have been able to read or write, but she used the skills she did have to attempt to make her mark on the movement—even when it ended with her imprisonment. The Hourglass Factory doesn’t detail the persuasive speeches and peaceful marches made for the cause of women’s suffrage. Instead, readers are reminded of the more unpleasant aspects of the fight for women’s votes, including mass arrests and police mistreatment following window smashes, and a rather grisly description of a prisoner being force-fed while in prison. I’m not going to lie—while I have read about hunger strikes and force-feedings, I hadn’t ever really thought about what they entailed. This book isn’t unnecessarily gruesome, but it is raw and honest.
Frankie is a fascinating character. It would have been easy to paint this novel’s protagonist as your typical feminist who was eager to interview Ebony, and devastated when she disappeared, but it was a lot more interesting to see the growth of the suffrage movement through the eyes of an outsider. That doesn’t mean that Frankie’s all that different from the women she meets in her attempt to unravel the mystery of Ebony’s disappearance. Rebelling against her mother’s wishes by moving to London and writing for a newspaper, Frankie’s written anything and everything in her attempt to get picked up by a major newspaper, from grisly suicide stories to columns on the latest fashions. She can barely afford her boarding house accommodations while also making payments on her typewriter, which is essential to her job. She wears trousers, much to the disapproval of many of her female acquaintances, and it’s debatable whether she does this for the comfort factor, or simply to cause shock everywhere she goes. Whether you like her or not, Frankie is a fantastically interesting and flawed character. Her habit of speaking before she thinks may make her frustrating at times, but she’s definitely real.
And isn’t that the real beauty of this book, that it deals with real women? From Frankie, the tomboy journalist, to Millicent, the surprisingly well-spoken and possibly aristocratic exotic dancer, to Ebony, the illiterate circus performer who wants the right to vote, each of the women in this story is flawed but honest. The Hourglass Factory is a fantastic portrait of what life was like for women in 1912. The constant fight for respect—be it from the police, politicians, parents or simply one’s boss—is evident within the pages of this book. In the author’s note at the end of the novel, I was struck again by just how long women have had the right to vote in Britain. As I write this review, it’s not even been a hundred years. 1912 was only the beginning of a long fight, and even if she is fictional, I like the idea that unsuspecting women like Frankie had their part to play in the movement.
Whether you have a personal interest in the suffrage movement or not, The Hourglass Factory will appeal to fans of rich historical fiction, unconventional characters and intriguing mysteries. I suspect that this debut novel will be making my list of top reads for 2015....more
I was about sceptical about this "episode", but I ended up enjoying it. It's was an easy listen, and compelling in places, but there were so many diffI was about sceptical about this "episode", but I ended up enjoying it. It's was an easy listen, and compelling in places, but there were so many different characters to keep track of that I found my mind drifting at times--which doesn't happen very often when I'm listening to audiobooks.
The idea of book serials made up of short episodes has never particularly appealed to me, so I wouldn't have picked this one up if it hadn't been free on Audible and by an author I enjoy. But even if I did like this little introduction to Hidden Falls, I can't see myself purchasing each instalment in the serial. The audiobooks are £2.27 each, and the ebooks £1.23, which isn't overly expensive, but it works out at £27 or £15 for the entire series (since the first volume is free), which is far more than I'd pay for a standard book. It does look like the entire series will be released in a single volume later this year, so I'd consider getting that. Otherwise, I can't justify spending that much money on each short episode. ...more
Summer Abernathy is looking forward to a lazy weekend with Kyle, her computer programmer husband, when she is rudely awakened by a mysteri4.5 out of 5
Summer Abernathy is looking forward to a lazy weekend with Kyle, her computer programmer husband, when she is rudely awakened by a mysterious man who claims her husband is whole lot less innocent than Summer ever believed. Not only is Kyle missing, but apparently he has some crucial documents that this man is desperate to find—and it doesn’t look like Summer has much time to fulfil his demands. Bemused and frightened, Summer unexpectedly finds herself under the protection of an “old friend” of Kyle’s, who turns out to be a US Marshall charged with protecting her husband—whose name, it appears, is actually David.
Although Summer is quickly reunited with David, she doesn’t entirely trust him. Has their entire marriage been built on a lie? Is the Kyle she married anything like the David who has been hiding from these overlords of organised crime? While on the run from the men intent on harming them, Summer doesn’t have much time to dwell on the lies she’s been told, but she isn’t sure if she can really trust David with her life. But does she have any alternative? Meanwhile, David just wants to set things right with his wife and put the past behind him. But will he get the chance to reconcile with Summer, or will their time together be cut short by the men hunting them down?
Since discovering Christian fiction in 2010, I’ve found myself firmly embroiled in the Amish and historical romance categories, and haven’t had nearly enough time to read some of the romantic suspense novels and mysteries that have come highly recommended. Lynette Eason is a favourite among my fellow reviewers here at TCM, and after many encouragements to check her out, I decided to take my chances on No One to Trust. The blurb on the back of my ARC was short, but I was immediately intrigued by the simple premise of a woman being woken up by a dangerous criminal, only to be told that her husband’s entirely identity is a lie.
No One to Trust was full of non-stop action and suspense from the first page. Mysteries might not be my main genre of choice, but I have read a fair few over the years and I’ve yet to come across a book quite like this, where the suspense just never slows down. There are some slower moments where the characters find time to talk about their options, but even then they’re still looking over their shoulders and planning their escape route. Initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy a book with such constant suspense, but given that the characters aren’t solving a mystery (we know who the antagonist is early on in the novel, and what his motivations are) it suited the story.
The constant action and need to flee from the gang members meant that Summer and David were forced to spend time together, whether they liked it or not. This situation was necessary, otherwise I imagine that Summer would have stormed off and refused to talk to David for at least a couple of days. But when men are threatening to kill you, you have to put aside your marital disputes for the sake of your own safety. The near-death situation also forced Summer to assess her feelings about David and decide whether she still cared about him, in spite of his lies.
I loved the fact that this book wasn’t about complete strangers being thrown together and falling in love while solving a mystery, as so many suspense novels are. Don’t get me wrong, I love a story where a couple is forced together by mysterious circumstances and come to care for each other over the course of the story, but seeing a husband and wife having to figure out their problems while fleeing from harm was a refreshing change. Their journey to reconciliation felt realistic, given their circumstances. David’s desire to win back his wife’s trust was touching, and Summer’s backstory of previous betrayals gave her character much-needed depth.
This novel had plenty of secondary characters, and while it never felt overcrowded, I still feel a little conflicted about the way several characters were portrayed towards the end of the story. I don’t want to spoil the story for potential readers, but more than one character was revealed to have been disloyal in some way, and while it made sense in relation to the overall arc of the story, I wasn’t sure how entirely believable it was for that many characters to have become corrupt. Although it was definitely satisfied with the conclusion to the story, I felt conflicted about the way a few characters ended up.
My only other gripes with this story are pretty minor. There isn’t a particularly prominent spiritual element throughout the course of the story, but David recounts his faith journey to his wife while they’re on the run, and it helps her to understand how he came to the place he is now. It’s not the most exciting or original of faith stories, but it’s probably pretty realistic and something that many readers can relate to. There were a few times when the discussions about faith felt a bit forced or maybe occurred at unrealistic moment in the story, but overall, I can’t complain too much about it. It might have been unremarkable, but it wasn’t preachy in any way.
The one thing that niggled at me towards the end of the book was the treatment of members of the police force. In the preparation for the final standoff with the organised crime gang, David and his friends are determined not to involve the police and take matters into their own hands. I got the impression that they didn’t trust the police to handle the situation well, and that they could do a better job on their own. There were a couple of other moments were police officers handled things wrong or were discovered to be corrupt, and I did wonder about the message this sent about the police. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are bad cops out there, and times when the police mess up, but the “We can do it better on our own” attitude didn’t sit completely well with me. This wasn’t a massive part of the story, just one of those things that bugged me a little.
I’m certain that No One to Trust won’t be my only foray into the Christian suspense genre for 2014. Lynette Eason definitely kept me on my toes, and the conflict between Summer and David was touching and believable. Although this novel has a few, small flaws, I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre and those who are considering dipping their toes into the world of suspense.
Taylor Martin’s mother has begged her to return home to Logan Point, Mississippi many times, but the painful memories of her father’s disappearance prTaylor Martin’s mother has begged her to return home to Logan Point, Mississippi many times, but the painful memories of her father’s disappearance prevents Taylor from returning to her home town. She’s settled into her life as a professor of Psychology at a university in Washington, and her criminal profiling work has given her the opportunity to work alongside the police on several cases. In spite of her success in her career, she feels dissatisfied with her inability to figure out what happened to her own father, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Did he really walk out on her family of his own accord, or is the mystery deeper than she was lead to believe?
Despite wanting to delve deeper into her father’s disappearance, Taylor’s work is interrupted by popular crime writer, Nick Sinclair, who is on the hunt for his own missing relative. His younger step-brother, Scott, has been out of his life for several years, but was reportedly taking Taylor’s criminal profiling case for a while. Taylor is familiar with Scott—in fact, she’s convinced he’s been stalking her since he dropped her class, and the creepy notes she’s found recently are making her wonder if this is more than a simple case of a teenage boy with a crush. Nick is convinced that his brother would never do anything to harm anyone, particularly his favourite professor, and is keen to work with Taylor to figure out who is following her, and clean his brother’s name.
Little do they know that the mystery they’re beginning to uncover is far greater than any Nick could have penned, and that they’re about to crack open a case that someone doesn’t want investigated.
I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense novels, but the synopsis for Shadows of the Past first caught my attention when I saw it in the publisher’s catalogue last year. A crime writer and a criminal profiler (who often works in association with a police department) working together on case—doesn’t that just scream Castle to you? And I’m not complaining, because I love Castle! My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the first four seasons together, particularly as I tend to be more in tune with Castle, with my more artistic brain, while my husband is more scientific, like Beckett. The show has a fantastic dynamic, and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone used it as inspiration for a novel.
That’s not to say that Shadows of the Past is merely a copy-cat for Castle. The similarities are pretty minor, and Nick’s writing doesn’t play a huge part in the story. I didn’t mind this as the details about Taylor’s family history and her criminal profiling were fascinating, and are sure to intrigue any reader who isn’t already an expert on criminology. Once Taylor returns to Logan Point, she spends some time meeting up with a detective friend at the local police department and working with her on both her father’s case and a more recent incident. I enjoyed these sections of the novel, and I’m hoping that Livy, the detective, will get a novel of her own in the future. She definitely piqued my interest, as did a few other characters scattered around Logan Point.
One of my only, minor complaints about this novel is that a great deal of secondary characters are introduced at the start of the novel—both in Washington, and then in Logan Point. It took a while for me to figure out who everyone was in relation to Taylor. Thankfully, no one came across as flat, in spite of the great number of characters, but it did make my head spin for a while. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about Logan Point, but it can take a while to get to grips with all the characters in Shadows of the Past.
I’m a little hesitant to bill this as a romantic suspense, since the romance takes a while to really get going—Taylor and Nick have a lot of animosity between them initially—and even then, it takes the back-seat a fair few times to the suspense. If you’re not a big fan of romance, don’t let that stop you from reading this book. The mystery of Taylor’s father’s disappearance and her stalker definitely captured my attention a lot more than the romance between her and Nick, and I’m a dedicated romance reader. While I was definitely pleased with the outcome to Taylor and Nick’s romance, this part of the story didn’t particularly grip me or make me worry that they wouldn’t get together.
The mystery is what I loved most about this book, and what pushes my rating so high. Taylor’s investigation into her father’s disappearance is interwoven with her desire to uncover the identity of her stalker—and in turn, help Nick to find his brother—and in spite of all these different threads, the story never feels confusing. At a later point in the novel, yet another thread is woven in, binding the story even tighter together. I had my suspicions about one character halfway through the story, but I wasn’t certain if he really was behind it all or not. Another one, I was convinced was a red herring, and I turned out to be wrong! In spite of the many Nancy Drew novels I devoured as a preteen, even I couldn’t complete figure out who was behind everything. As fun as it is to solve the mystery before the protagonist, it’s even more enjoyable when the author keeps you on your toes and has you second-guessing your suspicions.
If Patricia Bradley’s writing is this sharp with her debut, I can’t wait to read her next mystery. Shadows of the Past is sure to please and intrigue many a mystery fan, and I hope her writing gets the attention it deserves.
I found this book on BookMooch when I was searching for SuperRomance titles that I could mooch in the UK, and the prison guard/prisoner romance was imI found this book on BookMooch when I was searching for SuperRomance titles that I could mooch in the UK, and the prison guard/prisoner romance was impossible to resist, given that I'd just finished watching the TV show prison break. The hero definitely reminded me of the main character in Prison Break, even though this book was written several years prior to the show.
I'm cautious to class this as a romantic suspense, as the suspense isn't constant throughout the book, but there are definitely some moments when they're in the desert when you wonder how they're going to make it out alive. The mystery about how Tucker ended up in prison is also intriguing, and while I had my ideas about who was behind his wife's murder (and ended up being right!), the mystery isn't exactly heart-pounding. Still, this is a good romance with some mystery and suspense elements.
I wasn't entirely sold on Tucker and Gabrielle falling in love so quickly, given how little time they'd spent together. They are stuck, alone in the desert for several days, but after that Tucker is on the run, so it seemed a little too "love at first sight" to me. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the dynamics about Gabrielle trying to decide if she should help a convict or if she should return to her ex-husband. There were some interesting moral issues in this book.
I felt unsure about the relationship between Gabrielle and her ex, and their dynamic felt pretty weird for most of the book. They were divorced, but he was clearly still in love with her and I worried that Gabrielle was leading him on in spending so much time with him. Towards the end of the book, I saw how David played into Gabrielle's character development and her need to let go of her past. There's also a sub-plot about her finding her birth mother that added an interesting dynamic.
This certainly isn't one of the best category romances that I've read, but it was definitely original. The setting of a town full of prisons in the Arizona desert was fascinating, and the mystery gave the story an added level of depth. The romance might have moved a little too fast to seem believable (or maybe they just threw the word "love" around a bit too early) but it was certainly entertaining and kept my interest. A good bath book! 4*...more