In Regency London, an unconventional scientist and a fearless female artist form an unlikely alliance to expose unspeakable evil . . .
The Earl of Wrexford possesses a brilliant scientific mind, but boredom and pride lead him to reckless behavior. So when pompous, pious Reverend Josiah Holworthy publicly condemns him for debauchery, Wrexford unsheathes his rapier-sharp wit and strikes back. As their war of words escalates, London’s most popular satirical cartoonist, A.J. Quill, skewers them both. But then the clergyman is found slain in a church—his face burned by chemicals, his throat slashed ear to ear—and Wrexford finds himself the chief suspect.
An artist in her own right, Charlotte Sloane has secretly slipped into the persona of her late husband, using his nom de plume A.J. Quill. When Wrexford discovers her true identity, she fears it will be her undoing. But he has a proposal—use her sources to unveil the clergyman’s clandestine involvement in questionable scientific practices, and unmask the real murderer. Soon Lord Wrexford and the mysterious Mrs. Sloane plunge into a dangerous shadow world hidden among London’s intellectual enclaves to trap a cunning adversary—before they fall victim to the next experiment in villainy . . .
Andrea Penrose is the USA Today bestselling author of Regency-era historical fiction, including the acclaimed Wrexford & Sloane mystery series, as well as Regency romances written under the names Cara Elliott and Andrea Pickens. Published internationally in ten languages, she is a three-time RITA Award finalist and the recipient of numerous writing awards, including two Daphne Du Maurier Awards for Historical Mystery and two Gold Leaf Awards.
A graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in Art and an M.F.A. in Graphic Design, Andrea fell in love with Regency England after reading Pride and Prejudice and has maintained a fascination with the era’s swirling silks and radical new ideas throughout her writing career. She lives in Connecticut and blogs with a community of historical fiction authors at WordWenches.com. She also can be found at AndreaPenrose.com and on Instagram @AndreaPenroseBooks.
Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose is a 2017 Kensington publication.
A thrilling new Regency period mystery series-
A.J. Quills is a political satirist, sketching scathing cartoons, which often make his subjects squirm. However, most people are unaware that A.J. Quills is not at all the person they believe him to be.
When the Earl of Wrexford becomes the primary suspect in a murder investigation, he is unnerved by Quill’s sketches, which would suggest the artist was either on the scene of the crime or has inside information.
Once his informers have located the enigmatic cartoonist, Wrexford is surprised to make the acquaintance of Charlotte Sloane. Seeing his advantage, Wrexford agrees to keep her secret, if she will help him clear his name. Thus, begins an uneasy alliance between the pair. But, as the mystery behind the murder deepens, suggesting a secret club could be responsible, Charlotte and Wrexford become a solid, if unlikely, detective team.
Andrea Penrose is the pseudonym for Cara Elliott and Andrea Pickens, who has written a fair amount of Regency period romance novels. Now, she is exploring the darker side of the era, with this atmospheric mystery, chock full of intrigue and sinister goings on.
Scientific experiments, secret clubs, occult rituals, reveal the underbelly of London society, but could also be linked to the death of Charlotte’s husband. The plot is complex and there is quite a lot going on. The story is not hard to follow, but I did find myself slowing down and reading more carefully to be sure I was understanding all the various threads and intrigues.
This feels like a pretty ambitious undertaking, and has some rocky moments here and there, but overall, this is a very impressive beginning to a new series. Penrose obviously knows her history, having researched this era for quite some time, but I must say the underside of aristocracy is a much more fertile ground to explore. While I enjoy Penrose’s stories from the lighter side of the Regency era, this is a much more interesting type of story, and is far more challenging. I am happy Penrose has taken a break from an overly saturated sub-genre and spread her creative wings a little. I hope this series catches on, as I do think it shows a great deal of promise.
Very much written in the way of Americans writing British historical genre fiction, which may or may not ring your bell. eg random use of "bloody/bloody hell" in a Regency setting does not imbue text with authentic Britishness and I really wish people would stop doing it. Or just ask someone British "does this sound right?" I also have serious issues with phonetic dialogue for lower class characters for multiple reasons, one of which is that unless you use the phonetic alphabet it *doesn't work* for anyone who doesn't share your pronunciation. London urchins saying "you" as "ye" is not meaningful to me. Unless they're Scottish. Are they Scottish? Plus characters in the early 1800s twice telling each other to "cut to the chase". It refers to making movies, what else could it possibly mean?
None of this may bother other readers, but it got in my way too much for enjoyment and the plot and characters didn't overcome that so noping out at 19%.
A decent murder mystery set in Regency London. It’s well written and I especially liked the female protagonist.
As for the male character…he left me curiously incurious. As one of the reviewers mentioned, the author makes a strategic decision not to delve too deeply into the pasts of her protagonists. She seems to be setting the hook to encourage the readers to pick up future books in the series to learn more about them, but that choice led to a paper-thin characterization. I felt disconnected, especially from the hero.
The strategy also leads to more telling than showing and encyclopedic info dump.
Having recently read C. S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries set at the same time and place, I couldn’t help but compare the two. And I have to say that in terms of characterization and richness of the historical setting, St. Cyr is a winner.
Murder on Black Swan Lane is the first book in a new series of Regency-era historical mysteries by Andrea Penrose (who also writes as Andrea Pickens and Cara Elliot), which sees a satirical cartoonist teaming up with a scientifically-minded earl to investigate a couple of gruesome murders. The mystery is well-put together and includes some fascinating detail about the chemical sciences as they were understood at the beginning of the 19th century – the author has clearly done her homework – and we’re introduced to an engaging set of characters who will, I hope, continue to appear throughout the series.
The Earl of Wrexford (who doesn’t appear to have an actual name, just a title) has recently been publicly denounced as the worst kind of dissolute rake by the pompous, puffed-up Reverend Josiah Holworthy. Never one to suffer fools gladly, and the sort of man whom boredom inspires to ever more reckless behaviour, Wrexford responds to his accuser by unleashing his razor-sharp wit in a clever rebuttal, which is printed in the Morning Gazette. An increasingly vitriolic and very public argument ensues between the two men which is eagerly documented every step of the way by the popular satirist A.J Quill, whose cartoons persistently skewer those at the highest levels of society, shining a light on the darkest misdeeds on the rich and powerful.
When the Reverend Holworthy is found dead in a church on Black Swan Lane, almost decapitated, his face disfigured by some sort of chemical, suspicion immediately alights upon Wrexford, whose rather eccentric interest in chemistry is widely known. With Quill’s uncannily accurate drawings and pithy captions stirring up public opinion against him, Wrexford decides it’s time to find out where the cartoonist is getting his information.
A talented artist, Charlotte Sloane picked up her late husband’s pen after his death some eight months earlier and has continued to produce satirical cartoons using his pseudonym, A.J Quill. She guards her identity judiciously, knowing that if it’s discovered that the scourge of the ton is a woman she will be completely ruined and unable to earn a living. So the last thing she wants or expects is to discover the Earl of Wrexford on her doorstep demanding to see A.J Quill. Charlotte’s attempts at deflection become increasingly desperate, at which point the earl realises the truth and offers her a deal. If she will agree to share such information as comes her way regarding the investigation, he will keep her secret and pay for the information. Charlotte is furious at being backed into a corner, but she has no alternative. She is living from hand to mouth as it is, and can ill afford to turn down the money the earl offers or risk being exposed as A.J Quill, so she takes the deal.
Thus begins a very fragile relationship in which both protagonists circle each other warily as they gradually develop a strong mutual respect for the other’s intellect and skills. Wrexford and Charlotte are similar in some ways – they are both keeping secrets and hiding their true selves behind a public persona – but are completely different in others; Wrexford is all about facts and is bothered when he doesn’t have an answer or reason for something whereas Charlotte is far more accepting of the fact that not everything is logical and that sometimes there are no answers.
The murder mystery is intriguing and well-executed; complex enough to grab the reader’s interest but not so complicated that it’s difficult to follow, and peppered with lots of interesting scientific discussions and detail, in particular relating to the study of alchemy and its bearing on the scientific knowledge of the time. There’s larceny, espionage and the discovery of some painful truths, as Charlotte and Wrexford uncover links between her husband’s untimely death and the mysterious Ancients Club, things she had suspected but been unable to prove until now.
There is a small but colourful cast of secondary characters who I hope we’ll see more of in future books; Henning, the dour, Scots surgeon, Tyler, Wrexford’s valet and fellow chemist, Raven and Hawk, the two street urchins Charlotte has taken under her wing and Kit Sheffield, Wrexford’s closest friend who is, at first glance, somewhat of an empty-headed fribble, but who is far from being as stupid as he seems. The two principals are flawed, yet likeable and hopefully, the author plans to reveal more about them in future stories as it’s clear from the hints she drops here that there is much more to both of them than we’ve seen so far.
My one criticism of the book is with the way in which the story is set up. Holsworthy holds Wrexford up as an example of the worst kind of wickedness and denounces him as a rakehell, yet there isn’t much evidence of this debauched lifestyle on the page; in fact Wrexford himself says at one point that the reality of his life doesn’t live up to his scandalous reputation. The man I read about is irascible and highly intelligent with an unusual (for a member of the aristocracy) interest in science, a man who puts logic ahead of emotion and disdains sentimentality. There are a few references to his unsavoury reputation throughout the book, but unless his reputation is for being a man with a hot temper who prefers to go his own way, the idea of a cleric using him as an example of immorality doesn’t really make sense.
I’ll also add a word of caution for anyone looking for a Lady Julia or Lady Darby type of romantic frisson – you won’t find it here. Wrexford and Charlotte develop a strong working relationship which gradually turns into friendship and have developed an almost grudging admiration and respect for each other’s abilities by the end of the book. That’s not to say there is no potential for development in a more romantic direction in future, but for now, this is a solid historical mystery in which the emphasis is firmly on tracking down the killer and proving Wrexford’s innocence.
I enjoyed the story and the characters and am eager to read more of Charlotte and Wrexford’s adventures together. Murder on Black Swan Lane is recommended for anyone in the mood for a well-written historical mystery featuring a moody aristocratic hero and a heroine who knows how to cut him down to size.
This book should have been a slam-dunk for me. Historical mystery? Great. Set in the Regency period? Even better. A dark, intelligent, sardonic hero with potential hidden depths? My favorite kind. A courageous, independent heroine? Bring it!
And yet, in spite of being the sort of thing I should love, the book didn’t pull me in like it should have.
I think what kept me from fully engaging with the book is that the main characters didn’t completely come alive for me. The author makes the strategic decision not to delve too deeply into the pasts of her hero and heroine, so that the reader only gets a partial view of what has shaped them into the people they are. She seems to be setting the hook to encourage the readers to pick up future books in the series to learn more about them, but that choice left me feeling a bit disconnected from the two of them. (Particularly Wrexford; Penrose gives a little more insight into what makes Charlotte tick.)
To make up for the light characterization, the book needed to have an engrossing plot. The mystery was reasonably well constructed, with a few red herrings, but it wasn’t very complex. It wasn’t until the last third of the book, when Wrexford and Charlotte start to actively confront their suspects, that I really got drawn into the story. I finished the novel because I wanted to find out what happened, but it certainly wasn’t the kind of book I couldn’t put down.
For me, this book was just OK. People who are looking for a new historical mystery series to read might want to give it a try, though. I may have been spoiled by C. S. Harris’s terrific Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries. The comparison to that series in the book’s description is appropriate in terms of the setting, but Harris’s novels are much richer in terms of character and plot.
An eARC of this novel was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Well I don’t have a lot of things to say about this book. It might be a me thing, it might be the book, but this just could not hold my attention. The narration was good but I think maybe the plot was just too sciencey. There was a lot of talk of chemistry, laboratories, quotes in Latin and I just kept losing interest. I didn’t find the intrigue or the characters engaging enough and often found myself going over my to do list in my mind or thinking of other things and then I’d have to go back and relisten to passages. All in all this was dry. I didn’t love Wrexford, I found him more Frasier Crane than Sherlock Holmes. I was more interested in his friend Kit and the two bird boys/weasels Hawk and Raven. Charlotte was a good character but a bit of a Pollyanna and her situation was unbelievable, with her team of underground informants. But maybe it was explained better in the points where I was nodding off and I missed it. I honestly don’t even know who committed the crime, there were so many suspects and side characters and I missed way too much to catch the significance of who it ended up being. Maybe one day I will try this again, or maybe listen to the next one and hope it engages me. This was just dry as toast.
While combing through the catalog of titles on Netgalley, I happened to come across this one and admittedly, was captivated by the cover. I am not really sure why, I mean it’s not like it’s really that new and eye catching….I feel like I’ve seen a ton of books with similar titles that I was passed by in favor of something more eye catching.
But for some reason I paused on this one long enough to read the summary. Again, nothing terribly fresh but yet it sounded like just the thing I was looking for…..something predictable. I was dying to read another British detective mystery novel and this sounded like just that. So I clicked on request and once it was approved, I started in on what I expected to be a run of the mill detective novel. So the plot sounds like something you have read before am I right? Rogue-ish lord with a flair for unconventional hobbies gets framed for murder, meets quirky side kick and/or love interest and together they solve the crime. Was this book that? Yes. But yet I felt like I was reading something new and different at the same time.
For me what made this book was the characters. Wrexford is into chemistry and basically marches to the beat of his own drum. He’s smart and has a ‘devil may care’ attitude about the ton and society. He is familiar with the satirical drawings of A.J. Quill as many of the drawings are of him. What he doesn’t expect to learn is that A.J. Quill is in fact Charlotte Sloane.
Charlotte is kind of this mysterious woman. She lives in a working class section of London and is a widow. She takes care of two orphan children and basically educates them which means she herself is educated. She has upper class friends but doesn’t move in high society or even middle class circles.
When Wrexford meets her he is surprised to find first Quill is a female, and secondly that she is so educated. He knows she must have a backstory but we don’t find that out what that story might be. I love watching them play off each other. Neither one is all “I love you and want to throw caution to the wind to be together” but there is an unmistakable sexual tension slowly burning below the surface. Romance isn’t the obvious focus of the story but there is a hint of something that might develop in future novels.
I loved that Charlotte was kind of obscure. Wrexford was a very open character. He basically doesn’t care what people think of him and the audience feels like they know him from the beginning whereas Charlotte has more hidden facets. She isn’t as open about herself and when we read her perspective the audience gets the sense that we don’t have the full story which makes her intriguing. I also love that Wrexford doesn’t try to control her and keep her ‘safe’. In many detective novels there is the overwhelming sense of protection from the male lead and it often borders on irritating. I love that Wrexford respected her enough and understood that she wouldn’t be placated by staying at home while he did all the foot work.
The mystery itself had a lot of interesting elements and I loved the science aspect. There were enough twists and turns to keep me interested in the story but ultimately it was the relationship between Wrexford and Charlotte that kept me reading. Though mismatched, I think they make a great pair and I look forward to seeing how they evolve in future books. I was way more into this book than I expected to be, so much so, that I downloaded another book by Penrose because I loved her story telling style.
I'm giving up on this one for now. Although I really like the premise, the language is bothering me. Some of it is anachronistic (for example, the author keeps using "awfully," which was not recorded as an intensifier until some 20 years later than this book purports to take place), some just feels very stilted and unnatural (they said this in the Regency period, so I'll put it in!). And the hero just feels too stereotypically bad-boy hero-ish.
This is a great mystery set in London in the Regency period. i enjoyed the setting, characters, and plot. In this story, we get a glimpse of how some peer members are interested in alchemy, the arts, and sciences, some to their own advances. The Earl of Wexford is accused of murder and manages to meet an artist, A J Quill, who puts out cartoons portraying the latest news. The Earl is the focus of some of Quill's cartoons and when the two meet, they unite to solve the answer to who is committing the crimes Wexford is accused of. Very interesting tale of unlikely characters coming together in a complicated mystery. I will definitely be reading more of the series. I feel that there is more about Quill's backstory that is missing.
The Earl of Wrexford was bored. Gambling and women offered little new excitement. Even his hypotheses and scientific experiments lacked immediate answers. And then he was accused of murder.
Someone had set him up. It became a matter of expedience to solve the mystery. It gave him purpose which he hadn't felt in a long time.
'The crime was now like a thorn rubbing against raw skin.'
Wrexford appreciated coherent patterns and logical explanations. A.J. Quill, aka the widow Mrs. Charlotte Sloane, used her experience to draw uncannily accurate pen and ink drawings. The two people formed an odd friendship of sorts.
Just as important to the mystery was Tyler- Wrexford's patient and knowledgeable valet-, his friend Kit (I wanted to know more of his past!), Henning -the gruff Scottish man of medicine- and Charlotte's scamps: Raven and Hawk. I loved the way these characters were written.
There was a secret society and stolen objects. The storyline included an obscure medieval fantasy: something that was illegal to practice both in England and on the Continent. Lastly, a persistent bow-street runner that rounded out the plot.
Murder on Black Swan Lane was a wonderful beginning to a new historical mystery series. It contained quirky bits of delicious history. I'm hooked; I can't wait for the second story. Andrea Penrose, aka the Regency author Andrea Pickens and historical writer Cara Elliott, has found her niche.
Series: A Wrexford and Sloane Mystery #1 Publication Date: June 27, 2017
An impeccably written, exciting, intriguing, engrossingly tangled and twisted regency mystery. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. The characters are fully developed and deep with flaws and secrets I’m sure we’ll learn more about as the series goes on. I am so very excited that this is a series and we will get to know them all better. If you are a fan of Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, you will absolutely LOVE this one.
This is the first book I have read by Andrea Penrose or any of her other pen names -- Cara Elliott for Grand Central and Andrea Pickens for NAL, but I can’t wait to read more of this series and to also check out her other Regency mystery series.
I have to admit that my two favorite characters in the book are the two street urchins – Raven and Hawk. They are intelligent and wise beyond their years and even though they have lived their lives, alone, in the stews of St. Giles, they still have sweet and innocent hearts. It will be interesting to see if, over time, they give up being street urchins and let Charlotte care for them.
Since the series is named Quill Mystery, I assume that the main character will be Charlotte Sloane, also known as A. J. Quill. She is the most popular satirical cartoonist in England, but she must guard her identity and gender. She is very intelligent, feisty and not afraid of anything – at least she thinks she isn’t. One of the facts that is uncovered in this mystery is the facts behind the death of her talented artist husband Anthony. She also has another, even bigger, secret in her past and it is hinted at, but not revealed in this book.
The Earl of Wrexford has a brilliant, logical scientific mind and thinks he is incapable of any of the softer feelings. He is also a brilliant chemist – although he keeps that part of his life well hidden. All is logic with Wrexford. So, when everyone thinks he’s the person who murdered a Reverend he’s been publicly feuding with, he decides that he must solve the murder in order to save himself. His first order of business is to uncover the identity of A. J. Quill who has been skewering him in cartoons. The drawings are absolutely too accurate and therefore the artist must know something. There is also some hinted mystery with the death of Wrexford’s brother and I came to feel as if that was what caused Wrexford to close himself off from the softer feelings in life.
Although there is no romance in this book between Charlotte and Wrexford, they do develop a friendship and I hope it will develop into a romance over the course of the series. We do see a bit of ‘softening’ in Wrexford over the course of the book.
The secondary characters in the book are also great and it will be fun to watch their growth over the course of the series. There is Wrexford’s valet cum lab assistant who is smart and sassy. Then, there is Wrexford’s friend who is always short of funds and isn’t thought to be particularly intelligent. We also have a Scot doctor who does the autopsies and is gifted at interpreting what he is finding – Oh shades of St. Cyr Mysteries with their Scot anatomist.
The mystery is full of twists and turns and people with intertwining plots. You’ll have a time figuring out who murderer is and how all of the plots fit together.
"I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher."
A regency murder mystery quite unlike any other I have read. This book introduces us to a young woman (Sloane) who is eking out her living by submitting society drawings on the sly, using her dead husband's moniker. A male member of the aristocracy (Wrexford) is becoming a target of a certain Bow Street Runner, mistakenly identified as a possible murderer. The two must join forces. There is a focus on alchemy by some of the members of a secret society and the action gets lively with two young street boys swept up in the dangerous undercurrent of diabolical schemes. I look forward to reading further in the series.
If you like the Sebastian St. Cyr series or the Lady Darby Mysteries, then you will like this one. It was really well done and has that dark, gothic feel to it. I did figure out who done it pretty early in the book, but I was ok with that. It was the relationship that was forming between Charlotte and Wrexford that kept me reading. I hope that AP is going somewhere with Wrexford and Charlotte as a couple, as I loved the intensity of these two. Our story starts out with Wrexford being accused of killing a religious figure that he had been feuding with. Charlotte is a widow who is making a barely getting by living as a satirist who happened to get to the murder scene first and had a good memory what was actually there. She may have adlibbed just a little bit. She had been roasting Wrexford pretty heavily lately and this was no different. But once she realized that she may have made it look like an innocent man guilty, she sets out with Wrexford's help (with two little street toughs, Raven and Hawk along for the ride)to find the real killer. There is a lot of history for these two that we didn't get in this book, so I am looking forward to the next one. I need to know their secrets. :-)
I picked up this book because I love a good historical mystery. If it's set in England during the Regency period all the better. I do so love a man in Hessian boots. So I was all set to love this book and I went in with high hopes. After finishing the book, I can say that it carries possibilities and that there is hope that the individual pieces will eventually come together to make a stronger whole. However, it's not there yet and, for me, this first book didn't achieve its full potential. Let's start with characters first.
The Earl of Wrexford - if he has an actual name it's never divulged- is a supposedly immoral man whose life of debauchery has been made the subject of public scrutiny by both a man of the church and A.J. Quill, a political satirist whose popular cartoon sketchings regularly lambast the Earl and rest of his aristocratic Peers. The problem is that there is never any actual evidence that Wrexford's life is in any way debauched. He's a man of science and, indeed, that seems to be his only interest. It's also pretty much all readers are ever told about him. I mostly felt pretty meh about him.
Then there is Charlotte Sloane, the recently widowed wife of the original A.J. Quill, who has secretly taken up his pen and continued his work in order to keep a roof over her head. Readers aren't given much of a backstory on her either although it's fairly obvious that she comes from wealth, possibly the aristocracy, as well. And what privilege, to be able to turn her back on that sort of lifestyle. I didn't feel much for her either. I take that back, I did feel annoyed by her more than once. Look, I love a strong female character and I'm all for female empowerment...but not when it comes in the form of the female character constantly proclaiming how unlike other women she is, how she doesn't follow the rules (and don't you know that by now?), and doing nonsensical, risky things just to do them even when they make ZERO sense.
It was actually the secondary characters that I was most interested in. There's Henning, the Scottish surgeon who also appears in the author's other Regency mystery series, the Lady Arianna series , and Kit Sheffield, an old school friend of the Earl's. On Charlotte's side, there are two orphaned brothers who go by the names of Raven and Hawk.
As for the mystery itself, I thought that was a little thin too. Wrexford's motivation to play amateur sleuth makes sense since he's the prime suspect but Charlotte's motivation feels far less substantial. Readers are told that it stems from her husband's death but since I never got any real impression that their marriage was any sort of great love, Charlotte's involvement didn't feel genuine. It was more a sense that she had to be involved because the plot needed her to be.
Overall, it wasn't a bad book but it didn't wow me either. There was no romance side plot but it's clear that the author is setting that up, and trying too hard in my opinion. Wrexford and Charlotte scarcely ever have a normal conversation. It's always verbal sparring which is okay at first but then it's like having Christmas every day; it loses its shine. And, frankly, I'm just not feeling the chemistry. I'd be 100% fine if the two remain platonic friends and sleuthing partners, in fact at this point I'd prefer it. I felt more during Wrex's scenes with Raven and Hawk than I did in any of his scenes with Charlotte.
I'm willing to give the series more time to better develop its two lead characters but I can safely say that the Sebastian St Cyr mystery series, set during the same period, maintains its pride of place in my heart.
This is a murder mystery set in Regency times. It takes place in London from the mansions of Mayfair to some of the less salubrious quarters of that city. The Earl of Wrexford is another bored aristocrat but he has a brilliant mind and dabbles in scientific experiments. Charlotte Sloane is a brilliant artist in her own right but she takes over her husbands work secretly when he dies, as a satirical cartoonist who depicts the gossip and scandals of the day in exaggerated fashion. All the ton fear 'his' quill.
When the Earl is suspected of murder, he sets out to prove his innocence and discover who the real murderer is. In the course of his investigation he discovers who Charlotte is. He proposes they join forces as she has ways and means of getting information that is beyond him. In exchange he'll keep her secret. Helping in the quest are two young brothers. Raven and Hawk, are street urchins Charlotte befriends and tries to, surreptitiously, take care of. Raven is very proud and sees himself as the protector of his younger brother.
There are many more interesting and varied characters peppered throughout the story. Also there is quite a bit about science and experiments which won't be to everyone's taste but it's not overwhelming. I found it all fascinating. There are also some wonderful descriptive passages and the author's love of art shines through.
Needless to say I loved it. I don't ordinarily read murder mysteries but the blurb for this one just caught me and of course it's in Regency times which I love. The Earl and Charlotte make a great team and i especially loved the addition of Raven and Hawk. This is the start of a great series and the only complaint I have is that I have to wait, impatiently, for the next one to come out.
Das Buch entführt den Leser in ein düsteres London, in dem Kutschen über die Straßen rollen und Alchemisten in ihren Laborgläsern rühren. Ein schrecklicher Mord an einem Priester, bringt den Earl von Wrexford in den Fokus der Bow Street, hat der Earl doch den Ruf der Teufel persönlich zu sein. Doch nicht nur der Inspektor ist ihm auf den Fersen, auch die spitzfedrige Karrikaturisten Charlotte bringt ihn mit ihren Werken in Schwierigkeiten. Mir gefielen besonders die Charaktere. Der clevere Wrexford, der einen brillanten Verstand besitzt. Sein Freund Kit, der auf den ersten Blick wie eine lockere Spielernatur wirkt. Charlotte hat es in ihrer Zeit schwer, um sich zu ernähren und ihre Identität verbergen muss, um ihre Zeichnungen unter dem Namen ihres verstorbenen Mannes zu veröffentlichen, dabei konnte ich ihren Zwiespalt zwischen Gewissen und Geldverdienen gut nachvollziehen. Und dann gibt es noch die Brüder Raven und Hawk, tapfere kleine Helden, die Charlotte unter ihre Fittiche genommen hat. Ich mochte auch das Zusammenspiel von Charlotte und Wrexford, das ich mir anfangs nicht vorstellen konnte. Die Spannungskurve wurde gekonnt angezogen und hat mich immer länger lesen lassen, als ich eigentlich vorgehabt hatte. Ein sehr gelungener Auftakt für ein interessantes Ermittler-Duo, von dem es hoffentlich noch viele Fälle zu lesen geben wird - Ich freue mich schon auf die nächsten Folgen.
The Wrexford and Sloane series was always a 'when' not 'if' for me. The blurb, the genre, the time period, and many glowing reviews had me committed before I even cracked open the first book. Now, I finally read Murder on Black Swan Lane and, no surprise, I devoured it in two sittings.
Regency period London, an aristocratic Lord Wrexford, who gets tagged for a gruesome murder, ends up turning to the reclusive woman satirist who pilloried him in her drawings a time or two. Mrs. Sloane has her own reasons for seeing the murderer brought to justice even if it means using her talents toward detecting and partnering with a man she thought she had pegged, but he surprises her.
The author does a bang up job of introducing her characters and series set up while driving forward with a cunning murder mystery. Great mixture of character development, historical detecting, science and art of the period and a plot sprinkled with well-built suspense and action. Incidentally, the broader cast of characters introduced with the main pair were colorful and engaging, too.
Wrexford and Sloane are a dazzling pair and I most definitely want more of them and Regency-era mysteries. Now I, in turn, recommend this stellar book to other historical mystery fans.
I keep trying to find an engrossing new historical mystery series such as the Laurie King's Holmes-Russell series or Anne Perry's great Victorian-Edwardian series of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. Or even Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. Curses, foiled again.
The characterizations were cardboard and pedestrian and the mystery was dull. She seemed to fashion characters out of what she thought was popular or intriguing rather than characters that she herself was really invested in. Spunky talented heroine ahead of her time. Powerful attractive rich keenly intelligent hero, who is more than what he seems. 2 ragamuffin street urchins who the heroine has "adopted." Awwwww. Various friends and allies which are introduced throughout the book and will no doubt make appearances in later novels. She seemed more interested in setting the hook for future books than making this one engrossing. Well, I guess I'm the one that got away. The villains and the victims were mustache-twirling stereotypes and I couldn't keep them straight. The story was told, but with little wit or depth of observation, shock, or twists. Instead of making the dull and every day interesting, she managed to make the intriguing and compelling(Rare tomes, secret societies, nefarious secrets, dark forbidden Alchemy, mysterious symbols, etc. etc.) dull. There was not a moment that I felt suspense or tension.
It is very light, and for that, it was well written. I appreciate the fact that she didn't jump into romantic cliches between the two main characters and will save them for subsequent books. She seems to have done some research, although a few less "Bloody hells" and similar ejaculations (Hell's Teeth!) would have been welcome. Just don't look for any substance underneath the form and trappings. I plodded along until past the halfway mark and then had to skip through to the end.
There was a lot of potential here, a book I liked well enough one level while feeling peevishly disappointed at the same time.
The ideas of the characters were interesting enough, yet they lacked enough depth to connect with even as a genre novel.
The mystery and amateur investigation were complicated, as I would like, by the relationships of the central characters, yet it all felt just superficial enough to not evoke real interest or concern. I kept coming back to it not with dread but not with curiosity or relish either.
Small concerns that could have been swept away if I was deeply interested in characters or story instead were distracting—occasional syntax and sensibility that radiated contemporary America rather than Regency England;,characterizations and streaks of gender representation that aren’t egregious but reflect the taste of the contemporary historical romance rather than the mystery genre (the author also writes romance). It’s not really romantic suspense, but it feels a bit disjointed to a mystery reader who reads very little romance.
All these complaints sound more weighty than they should. It’s not a bad book, it’s pretty well written, I should have liked it more than I did, and I didn’t dislike it. It’s a very near miss. As the first in a series I should try another one, though I’m not sure I will.
Well, I must say that I liked both Wrex and Charlotte! He's a typical bored aristocrat, but he's also a clever and intelligent man who gets caught by Charlotte's situation and cleverness! The mystery part was inetersting and I liked the way the story was told and how all the ineteresting secondary characters were involved! I'm hooked! LOL
Right now, my Google news feed is filled with articles trying to cancel Ellen for basically not being as nice as her reputation makes her out to be. She isn’t accused of sexually harassing someone, inappropriately touching someone, stalking or threatening someone. She is accused of poor communication with her crew about pay during Covid 19, which has left staff feeling betrayed. I’ll admit, that would sting. This steady stream of complaints against Ellen (at least in my news feed) has me thinking about cancel culture. What do we do with entertainment starring Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, CK Louis, and Al Franken? Some people have expressed a discomfort watching their old work. For me, it depends on the artist and the transgression. Of the above, I’m most uncomfortable with Woody Allen.
Okay, so what does cancel culture have to do with Murder on Black Swan Lane? If you’ve read the above description, you know the story takes place in Regency London and that the Earl of Wexford finds himself a suspect in the murder of Reverend Josiah Holworthy. The Earl partners with A.J. Quill who is actually Charlotte Sloane to solve the murder.
Reading the book, I get the feeling Charlotte Sloane or maybe more accurately the Earl of Wexford is portrayed as readers would like things to have been and not a true resemblance of how things were. The Earl is often mildly amused at Sloane, occasionally confused, but never offended or agitated. There is a scene where Charlotte shares her suspicions and then asks if the Earl thinks she is overreacting. The Earl responds by saying he believes her and finds her to be one of the most logical people he has ever met. As a reader, it left me struggling. If I had a time machine and could interview every man in Regency London, could I find a single one who thought women were logical, much less an example of supreme logic? I’m stuck with the Chain of Being in my head, which I remember as God, Angels, Men, Women, Animals, Plants, Minerals. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I missed the history lesson, where it is explained that humans were completely enlightened during the Regency period and completely abandoned any hint of the Chain of Being. In another scene, Charlotte laments that the two boys who run errands and spy for her are not really having a childhood in which they are able to play without worry. Huh? She states a few things that strike me as modern concepts of childhood that had the effect of pulling me out of the narrative. There were some comments about atheists that also pulled me out of the narrative.
But it got me thinking, are we canceling parts of history that we don’t like? Does it matter? It’s fiction after all. I’m not to believe that the Earl and Charlotte are based on real characters. How real do they need to come across? Is it more important to show a male with feminist inclinations in Regency England than show what life was likely to have been?
If these kinds of things don’t distract you from the story, it’s a solid mystery.
I really was not sure how I would feel about this read, thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised!
I am grateful to Kensington, for choosing me as a GoodReads Giveaway winner!
I do love most Historical Brit Lit, so I was attracted to the fact that this book takes place in Regency London. What I was most surprised by was how fantastic these characters are. I feel they would even be a grand time on their own, even without a murder mystery to spice things up! I am eagerly awaiting the second round, Murder at Half Moon Gate, unfortunately for me, it will not be released until March 27th!
This was pretty good once it got going. I was a bit sceptical given there is already one excellent and popular series set in Regency times with a similar protagonist (Sebastian St. Cyr). However this novel held its own.
I enjoyed the book and it held my interest till the end. It reminded me of a TV episode where the story is told and little background is given. It does get compared with the St. Cyr mysteries. I look forward to the next in the series. I rate this a 3.5
I seem to be in the mood for historical mysteries and this one was perfect. Lord Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane seem to come from two different worlds but together they make a formidable duo as they work together to keep Lord Wrexford from being arrested for the murder of a questionable clergyman. The plot was quickly paced, the vivid descriptions of London's extreme living conditions from the "beau monde" to the "stews" made me feel like I was there throughout the book.
I’m really enjoying this murder mystery series from the quill of Andrea Penrose. These novels are set in the Regency London – like my Detective Lavender books and the Sebastian St Cyr series by C. S. Harris - but they’re unique in that Charlotte Sloane is an enterprising woman who's carved out a secret and successful career for herself as a satirical cartoonist. Independent and clever, she’s the perfect match for the mercurial and scientific Earl of Wrexford, her crime-solving partner. The chemistry between them is obvious and that personal spark adds an extra layer of interest to the novels. The secondary characters in this series are also delightful, especially the sardonic Tyler, Lord Wrexford's valet/laboratory assistant, and Raven and Hawk, the street-wise young orphans whom Charlotte has taken under her wing.