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A Dickens of a Crime #1

A Tale of Two Murders

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On the eve of the Victorian era, London has a new sleuth . . .

In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper's co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss's daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors' home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help--using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times . . .

338 pages, Hardcover

First published July 31, 2018

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About the author

Heather Redmond

12 books268 followers
Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last known British ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.

She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, has received a coveted starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 202 reviews
Profile Image for Linda.
1,230 reviews1,278 followers
July 3, 2018
"A very little key will open a very heavy door." (Charles Dickens)

Just the right pressure and just the right persistence can shed light on even the darkest of situations.

January of 1835 in Brompton, outside of London, ushers in the New Year and adds the age-old desire for an Epiphany celebration. Families dine at their tables whether in abundance or in simple appreciation of even the most meager of a shared meal. Tradition reigns.

Heather Redmond introduces us to a twenty-two year old Charles Dickens who is dining in the home of his editor. Charles is recently launching his career as an entry level journalist at the Evening Chronicle. The lively Hogarth family welcomes him. But Charles' eye is held in the direction of Kate, the nineteen year old daughter, who brightens the room with her wit and her loveliness.

As dessert is being served, a loud scream is heard coming from the home of Lady Lugoson, the barron's widow, who lives next door. Charles and Kate pound on their door and gain admittance. They find that Christina Lugoson, the young daughter, has fainted and appears quite ill. Both Charles and Kate remain there while Kate attends to the girl who is burning with fever. Their vigil ends by morning when Christina succombs to this strange attack.

Lady Lugoson's dinner guests fear for their own safety after the kitchen is ordered to be stripped and cleaned. Was this quite the accident or was this an intentional poisoning? Charles soon discovers that another girl died about a year ago. She was desperately ill as was Christina. Was this just a fluke or is there some kind of connection between the two deaths? More importantly, who was responsible and why?

Heather Redmond's portrayal of Charles Dickens at such a young age and under these circumstances is a delightful fictional tale into this Victorian period. The characters are presented with plenty of secrets lurking behind closed doors. Neighbors seem to show their faces in their own self-directed light. With Redmond's deft writing we experience a growing relationship between Charles and Kate. There's not the burden of the heaviness of romance that would otherwise overshadow the storyline. Hopefully, Heather Redmond will slip these two into the next book. Well worth waiting for......

I received a copy of A Tale of Two Murders through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Kensington Books and to Heather Redmond for the opportunity.
723 reviews306 followers
September 1, 2020
(I guess one could say this was neither the best nor worst of reads.)
I had great expectations when I chose this book. As a big fan of neo-Victorian crime novels, I couldn't resist. Although there have been a few historical mysteries in the past with Dickens as protagonist ( Dan Simmons' DROOD and William Palmer's Mr. Dickens series come to mind), I guess you can never have too many.

However, this Redmond book may have been written with the best of intention but not with the best of execution. It was a pre-read hope. It was a post-read despair. It may have been set during the best of times, but this was not the best of crimes. (OK, I promise I am now finished with annoying references to some of Dickens' more famous lines.)

Heather Redmond is the pen name of Heather Hiestand, who has written many romance novels. This is her first mystery, in a planned series with a young Charles Dickens as crime-solver. This first book takes place in 1835. Dickens is an almost 23-year-old budding journalist and aspiring playwright and novelist. He works for the EVENING CHRONICLE, under editor George Hogarth.

As this tale begins, Charles is dining at the Hogarths, in the company of Hogarth, his wife and his four daughters, the eldest being Catherine, with whom Dickens is newly smitten. The meal is interrupted by cries of distress from a neighboring home and when they go to investigate, they find themselves involved in what may very well be the murder of a 17-year-old neighbor girl. As they investigate, the discovery of a previous death one year to the day of another 17-year-old girl makes them suspicious. Are the deaths related?

Charles' and Kate's investigations have them meeting up with a large cast of suspicious characters, most of them aristocrats or theater folk. There are numerous red herrings set up somewhat clumsily by the author as our two protagonists set out to uncover the truth in a rather haphazard manner.

I found this mystery to lack a bit of polish. The writing, character development, development of the mystery itself, the dialogue, all felt awkward and did not flow well. Some of the clumsy red herrings set up to develop the mystery were puzzling and left me with more questions than answers. And I didn't get a very good feel for anyone as a person. In particular, I found Charles and Kate to be extremely bland and their budding romance was looked at superficially and with rose-colored glasses.

Neither mystery nor characters nor romance are very convincing. I wish Redmond had added more salt and vinegar to the characters. From what I have read of Dickens and his life, he was a bit of a "dick" but here he comes across as somewhat milquetoast. In addition, the love and attraction between Dickens and Kate presented here seems too idealized, especially considering that in real life Dickens tosses poor Kate aside rather callously after 20 years of marriage, 10 children and at least two miscarriages, so that he could enjoy a midlife crisis at 45 with an 18-year old actress, Ellen Ternan.

On the plus side, the author does throw in some accurate details about Victorian life and about Dickens' personal life. She has done her research in that respect. However, that doesn't make up for the lackluster mystery and characters, since all that historical detail can be found when doing cursory research online or in reference books.
Profile Image for thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich).
907 reviews42 followers
June 6, 2018
The year is 1835 and the young Charles Dickens is a journalist with the Evening Chronicles newspaper. One evening, while dining at George Hogarth's estate, his editor, they hear a scream and rush over to the Lugoson's home. A pleasant evening turns into a dismal one, when they find the young miss Christiana lying unconscious on the floor and by the next morning, she passed away. Charles later found out that exactly a year ago, a young woman also passed away under mysterious circumstances. A mere coincidence? His journalist instinct compels him to investigate these two deaths and hence a tale of two murders begins.

While I find the plot is fascinating, unfortunately the storytelling was dull, trite and filled with too many unnecessary parts that is not really pivotal to the mystery. It seemed to drag on for a long time in the middle of the story and went on in circles without any progress in the investigation. It was a struggle for me to continue and my interest in the mystery faded from here onwards.

There is definitely connection with the characters since it is a character driven story. There are a lot of dialogues and interactions between the characters to the point of obscuring the mystery. The main plot fades away and replaced by the courtship between Charles and Kate (George Hogarth's daughter). While I do welcome some light romance in a story but I felt the whole story here was preponderated by their courtship.

That being said, the positive thing about this book is the language used. I think it is quite spot on with the era. No profanity of language and I appreciate that a lot. The writing is pretty good too. Redmond is able to deliver a good background setting for the story through her descriptive writing.

In a nutshell, A Tale of Two Murders is an average read for me. I always enjoy reading historical fiction with historical characters in it - a blend of fact & fiction. Albeit a promising plot, it failed to hold my interest. I wish the story would focus more on the mystery solving element rather than romance element.

***I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Kensington Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed in this review are my own and was not influenced by the author, publisher or any third party.***
Profile Image for nikkia neil.
1,150 reviews19 followers
June 8, 2018
Thanks Kensington Books for this ARC. All opinions are my own.

Redmond gives us a tale for the ages. Loved her version of Dickens and Kate. As much a murder mystery as a romance and foundation for further stores- its just right.
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews345 followers
June 29, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Noha Hashem

A Tale of Two Murders shows us a 22-year-old Charles Dickens as an aspiring journalist at The Evening Chronicle as he tries to unravel the mystery behind two possibly connected murders.

The book starts off with Charles having dinner with his boss’s family and enjoying the attentions of Kate Hogarth, his boss’s daughter and also his future wife, when they hear a piercing scream coming from the neighbouring house. Charles, Kate, and Mr. Hogarth head over to the Lugosons’ house to investigate and find an unconscious Miss Christiana Lugoson. Kate and Charles stay with her throughout the night, but unfortunately she passes away the next morning due to mysterious reasons. Soon after, Charles learns that another girl has died a very similar death on the same day a year ago, which leaves him wondering; could it be a coincidence? Or are both these deaths connected somehow? Charles and Miss Hogarth decide to uncover the truths behind the girls’ deaths together, which also happens to give them an excuse to spend more time in each other’s company, to Charles’s delight.

“Give me a mystery, Mr. Dickens, and a solution, and I will follow you into places I should not.”

There were many things to appreciate in this book, such as a cast of characters at the start of the book, which really helped because the characters had a tendency to get mixed up at times. It was also obvious that the author had put a lot of research into this book as her description of the Victorian era came across as incredibly accurate, and the language used was spot on. It was really interesting to read about the formalities and the rules of courtship in this era as well.

I really admired Kate Hogarth’s character and loved how fearless and intelligent she was. Seeing her relationship with Charles unfold was very interesting. I also loved all the subtle references to A Tale of Two Cities as there were several “I see what you did there” moments.

That being said, while the plot of this book was very intriguing, its execution could have been better. The story dragged on for a while, as the investigation was going around in a circle and no real progress was being made. It was only towards the end that things started to happen, so it was a struggle to get through the middle part of the book. It was also hard to follow their train of thought sometimes as I was lost more than once by how they reached certain conclusions.

This book felt like reading a classic, which was both a good and bad thing for me. Since I have never read a classic before, it was definitely a challenge to get used to the writing style, and it was probably one of the reasons I was lost at times. However, for someone who is used to reading classics or historically set novels, the writing style would be no problem.

The biggest issue I had with A Tale of Two Murders, however, was how it lacked jaw dropping moments. Although the reveal of the killer was surprising, it didn’t leave me completely surprised. This was kind of disappointing since “jaw dropping moments” are what you expect from a mystery novel. Plus I had already figured out the killer a chapter before it was revealed, which made the reveal even less surprising.

Regardless of all that, Heather Redmond’s version of how Charles Dickens was inspired to write the infamous A Tale of Two Cities was fascinating. I would recommend it if you were a Charles Dickens fan or a classic lover!
Profile Image for K..
3,686 reviews1,007 followers
November 18, 2018
Trigger warnings: murder, vomit, poisoning, domestic violence, implications of rape (in the past).

I was SUPER EXCITED when I found out about this because I'm complete and utter trash for Charles Dickens. And having him investigate a murder? SOLD.

Unfortunately, I couldn't quite engage with the story in this one. I mean, I read it. I didn't hate it. But I never felt completely hooked. I pulled out my phone to check Twitter more than I usually would while reading a book. Etcetera.

I think perhaps it's because I love Terry Pratchett's Dodger as much as I do - a story that also features Charles Dickens as a major character investigating mysterious things in Victorian London - that I couldn't bring myself to love this. Pratchett's Dickens leaps off the page, where Redmond's plods along. The story felt padded out to the point where there'd be so much detail about Dickens' birthday party or his relationship with Kate Hogarth or how his waistcoat felt tight after eating rich food that I almost forgot they were supposed to be investigating the murder of a teenage girl.

So, to paraphrase my boy Charlie D: it was the meh-st of times, it was the zzz-st of times.
Profile Image for Sina & Ilona Glimmerfee.
1,054 reviews122 followers
January 3, 2021
Charles Dickens als Detektiv? Das lockte mich natürlich sofort an. Doch anfangs fand ich die Geschichte etwas zäh und unübersichtlich durch die vielen Charaktere. Doch nach einiger Zeit, hatte ich mich eingelesen.

Charles Dickens ist noch jung, lebt zusammen mit seinem Bruder und hat endlich eine Anstellung bei einer Zeitung gefunden. Im Haus seines Chefs trifft er auf dessen Tochter Kate und eine zarte Liebesgeschichte entspinnt sich - natürlich voller Schicklichkeit. Es war für unseren jungen Ermittler gar nicht so einfach Leute zu befragen, da er nicht zu den höheren Kreisen gehörte und er auf Einladungen und Empfehlungen angewiesen war, um überhaupt vorgelassen zu werden. Auch über das Diagnostizieren von Giften zu dieser Zeit, hatte ich mir bislang keine Gedanken gemacht.

Nachdem ich die anfänglichen Schwierigkeiten überwunden hatte, fand ich den Fall spannend und sehr interessant.

Das Buch wurde mir kostenlos als Rezensionsexemplar zur Verfügung gestellt.
Profile Image for Anna Lee Huber.
Author 23 books2,859 followers
January 16, 2018
Redmond deftly transforms a young Charles Dickens and his future wife, Kate Hogarth, into Victorian sleuths in this first installment of a new series. With meticulous attention to historical details and the known elements of Dickens’s life, A Tale of Two Murders unfolds a complex mystery that cunningly explores how Dickens might have been inspired to write the plot of his most well-known book, A Tale of Two Cities. Sharp, incisive, and delightfully twisty. I’m sure I won’t be the only reader exclaiming, "What the Dickens?!"
Profile Image for Marilyn.
419 reviews20 followers
August 9, 2022
I did enjoy this book as it moved along. Our August 2022 Book Club selection.

A few points, that I will mention. On E page 89 , the author talks of women not being able to attend funerals, this caused me to pause. The setting of this book was mid 1830’s. Not sure I have ever heard that. Maybe other lovers of historical fiction books can comment on that, perhaps just a fictional comment….

I will also mention a couple of fun quotes that tied right into the time era of this book.

Book club selection for Aug 2022
Epage 129
“I am against secrets. A young woman should have a good relationship with her parents, and respect them enough to not hide such things. It is the path to ruin”.

“They were brought to a formal parlour, rather chilly, with no tea service in sight. Another family portrait hung over the fireplace in this room, of a constipated-looking young man in fashion of Beau Brummell’s heyday. He has a Caesar haircut forming his blonde hair to his thick skull, which was the only feature tying him to Lord Lugoson or the late Miss Lugoson. Still the era of his attire made him likely to be their father, now deceased.
Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,953 reviews272 followers
June 22, 2018
The year is 1835 and Charles Dickens, age 22 and a rising young journalist, is having dinner one evening with his boss, William Hogarth (the newspaper’s co-editor), along with the boss’s intriguing 19-year-old daughter, Kate. A scream from the neighbor’s house intrudes upon their delightful evening and when the three rush to determine the source, they discover a Miss Christiana Lugoson lying unconscious. In the morning she is dead. Soon Charles learns of a similar death, exactly one year prior and under similar mysterious circumstances. Charles suspects poison and feels compelled to investigate.

This is an interesting historical mystery and very much a character-driven novel. Charles, himself, demonstrates a keen mind while at the same time occasionally stumbling into social blunders, just as many young people do. His relationship with the historical Kate Hogarth (who would later become his wife) is sweet. She is a bit feisty and when she challenges Charles to “Give me a mystery Mr. Dickens, and a solution, and I will follow you into places I should not” I was completely won over right along with Charles.

The mystery, itself, is quite complex with a number of characters introduced and interacting in such a way that identifying the murderer is definitely a challenge. Tying in the first murder and trying to determine the connection between the two adds another fascinating layer to the mystery. Hidden agendas and unknown relationships combine for a high level of literary intrigue. The world of 1830s London is always in the background and while it doesn’t intrude on the plot, its idiosyncrasies and foibles are on full display.

There are some tie-ins to the Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities but it is certainly not necessary to have read that prior to reading this book. It is clear that while this may be the first book penned by Heather Redmond, she makes no secret that this is a pen name and the author behind it is clearly an experienced writer and a devotee of Dickens. The final result is a fun immersion into an interesting time period, with interesting characters, working towards solving an interesting mystery (or two). I look forward to the next book in the series.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Clare O'Beara.
Author 21 books335 followers
October 11, 2018
I very much enjoyed this atmospheric murder mystery starring the young reporter Charles Dickens and the lady he later married.
While I noted references to Dickens' later works, they are not delivered in a cutesy kind of way, just naturally arising remarks.
A winter dinner party is disrupted by screams from the neighbouring house, where a young woman has been stricken by a mysterious malady. Dickens investigates, and finds links to a poisoning on the same date the previous year.

I like that the settings include the muddy banks of the Thames and backstage in a theatre, with lots of period London detail.
I read an e-ARC from Fresh Fiction. This is an unbiased review.
Profile Image for dOnnabud.
135 reviews8 followers
September 30, 2020
Charles Dickens' journalistic skills and relentless work ethic serve him well as he investigates a suspicious death. During this period, his relationship with Kate Hogarth begins to blossom. Despite the rigid and strict social constraints of the early Victorian era, Kate evolves as a reliable, sensible, competent partner. The mysteries were intriguing, and the resolution satisfying.
Profile Image for Katy.
292 reviews
August 24, 2022
This is an interesting historical fiction novel. Some of the characters are real people albeit in different roles than they were in real life. It somehow adds to the believability and intrigue of the plot.

The story takes place in 1835 in England where Charles Dickens is a journalistic reporter who queries the untimely deaths of two young girls each 17 years of age with deaths exactly one year apart in the same small town and of similar circumstances.

The writing is completed in a fashion that reflects the time period aptly, I’d imagine ( as I can’t say with any certainty). But it seems so! Descriptions of clothing, jobs, events, interests, political issues, and personal attitudes all seem appropriate and add nicely to building both the plot and the character development. The historical mix of real people and fictional characters worked well adding credibility to the plot.

So far, this novel had my attention.

It is a slow burner. Not that it drags but it is not really a pager turner mystery. However, I think the pace reflects the time period. Things just happen more slowly and casually, yet relationships are of course much more formal. As this is not a police investigation but rather a journalistic search for the truth it has a much different flavour.

No cell phones, land lines, computers, internet, texts, to pass information quickly or at all. No cars to move from one place to another with any speed or at all. Everything is done by hand, by word of mouth, on foot, horse drawn carriage. It does make for an interesting perspective.

The flow of both news and information is slow but freely dispersed, by word or post, or gossip (there some things are not quite so different.) Nothing seems to be confidential.

By the end of the story the plot is complete, the truth is discovered, the characters are sufficiently developed, and the door is left open for more adventures.

The story held my attention and provided an easy, relaxing and engaging read! Now I’ll have to read the rest of the books in this series!

Profile Image for Anna.
1,228 reviews19 followers
April 25, 2020
A murder mystery with Charles Dickens as young man playing detective. The mystery is decent, plenty of suspects and red herrings. Dickens makes an awkward detective because he doesn't really have a good reason to be one and Redmond handled that awkwardness well. Redmond seems to have done a lot of historical research and the detail she uses makes the world come alive, but sometimes it is too much and makes the story drag.
Profile Image for Cat Tutt.
179 reviews12 followers
August 21, 2018
This book was recommended to me by two trusted sources, so I decided I should give it a read. I requested it from the library and was the first person to get one of the copies when it came in, which I always love.

It's not listed as a cozy mystery, though it reads somewhat like a historical cozy mystery. I'm a cozy fanatic, so that gave the book extra brownie points for me. I also love historical fiction, which this one primarily was. The settings were great, I loved all the characters, and I thought it was a really well written story.

I wasn't SHOCKED by the solution to the mystery, as I had considered something similar, but it wasn't obvious either. And some of the details were quite surprising!

All in all, I really enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of historical fiction and even cozy mysteries!

*4.5 Stars rounded up to 5
Profile Image for Elizabeth Lapp.
149 reviews8 followers
August 7, 2018
I LOVED this. It totally reminded me of those awesome murder mystery dinners, 'who done it' kind of story.

Also, I hate to admit, but I have never read anything by Charles Dickens, and this book really has given me some awesome insight about him and his writings, I definitely have added his novels to my TBR list!
Profile Image for Jeannine.
517 reviews34 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
February 4, 2022
Page 18 and I’m out. The actions of the people in the house where a girl is dying are inexplicable. And on what planet would a random employee of the neighbor be hanging out in the girl’s bedroom as she dies?

And Charles Dickens was a horrible person (Google his bio), so I’m not sure I want to read a book where he’s the hero.
Profile Image for Literary Redhead.
1,626 reviews494 followers
July 16, 2019
A wonderfully imagined historical mystery with Charles Dickens and his future wife as sleuths. Set in 1830s London and as atmospheric and twisty as all get out! 5/5

Thanks to the author, Kensington Books and NetGalley for the review copy.

#AtaleOfTwoMurders #NetGalley
December 6, 2018
Historical mystery

This was a an intriguing historical mystery full of twists and turns. The story follows a very young Charles Dickens as he and his future wife Kate investigate the suspicious deaths of two young ladies a year apart. I loved the Victorian London setting and the author obviously did her research well as there was so much historical detail. The mystery element was really good as well and I would definitely recommend this if you like books set during the Victorian era.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,579 reviews40 followers
August 11, 2018
I came across this book in the new releases section of the library and grabbed it based solely on the title and cover. It wasn't on the same level as some of my favorite historical mysteries, but it has potential. I found the characters more entertaining than the mystery, but it did not meet my great expectations for a young Charles Dickens.

I will likely try the next installment.
Profile Image for Golfergirl.
259 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2022
I was interested to read of the everyday hardships that most people, other than the wealthy, endured in the mid 1800s. I liked the plot and the way the author built the story. This is both a mystery and a romance. The story is told primarily by conversations between the characters. Charles Dickens is a young newspaper journalist. He has worked hard to achieve his position and is dedicated to achieving more success. His boss and mentor is a good man and recognizes Charles’ determination. Charles proves his character by staying by the side of the hostess’s daughter at party as she falls ill and despite their best efforts dies. But Charles can’t accept that this was a natural death and so begins the mystery. And the mystery deepens when Charles discovers there was a similar death of a young woman exactly a year prior to this death. The intrigue is handled well. I did find some of the conversations were so detailed that they dragged, but overall I enjoyed the book. This is first in a series, I would read others in this series.
Profile Image for Debbie.
3,216 reviews59 followers
June 5, 2018
This is a mystery set in 1835 in England. Vivid historical and setting details were woven into the story, making it feel like these events could really have happened. The author tried to stay true to what is known about Charles Dickens' career and lifestyle in his early twenties, but the mystery is fictional. The mood of the story was somber.

The characters were interesting and acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. The author also used correct manners and attitudes for the time, so Kate and Charles had to be careful about their behavior together. Charles and his friends found some inventive ways to gain access to people to ask them questions. He wanted to uncover why two girls had died on the same night a year apart. I did not correctly guess whodunit until the final clues fell in place, and Charles had it figured out by then, too.

There were only a few uses of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting mystery.

I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Dianne Freeman.
Author 7 books978 followers
June 18, 2018
I love it when an historical mystery really draws me back to another time. In A Tale of Two Murders, Heather Redmond achieves total immersion into Victorian London. In this first book of her new series, a young Charles Dickens and his future wife, Kate Hogarth set out to unravel a complex mystery involving the deaths of two young women, one year apart. The characters are believable and engaging, their actions true to the era, and the mystery compelling. I enjoyed this story and look forward to more of this series.
Profile Image for Waverly Fitzgerald.
Author 20 books42 followers
September 1, 2018
I heard from a friend that Redmond really knew her Victorian period and I thought that couldn't possibly be true since I've read so many Victorian mysteries that get it all wrong. So I was delighted by her impressive knowledge of food, transportation, street life, clothing, etc.
And the Epiphany cake that opens the first scene! Yum! I've been writing about seasonal holiday traditions for a long time and had never heard of this version of the celebratory cake.
She also does a great job of situating the investigation of a murder into the middle of a particular period in Charles Dickens's life, much the same way Stephanie Barron does with her Jane Austen mysteries. Two girls die, a year apart, on Epiphany, both of them 17 year olds who go to church in the same parish. Dickens is spurred to investigate the deaths by his growing affection for Kate Hogarth, the daughter of his employer, who was acquainted with the two girls. Their romance is handled so well: the delicate flirtation permitted to a young unmarried girl in those times, the hesitancy of the man to propose an engagement unless he can support a family, and the longing of Charles Dickens to have the kind of large, happy family the Hogarths enjoy and which he missed in his own childhood. Despite what happened later in his marriage, I suspect it began with these hopes.
The plot follows Dickens as he interacts with various interesting characters, some fictional and some real. I worried (maybe I've watched too many TV police dramas) because Dickens gave away so much information every time he talked to a new suspect. I appreciated more the little side notes about his work as a journalist and his relationship with his brother.
The ending was not entirely satisfying. It answered the question of who did it and why but it wasn't terribly dramatic and the motivation was not particularly integrated into the plot.
But I certainly look forward to the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Ioanna.
488 reviews18 followers
July 26, 2018
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

London,1835. Young Christiana Lugoson feels unwell, and in a matter of hours she perishes, No one is sure why; the girl was healthy and everything seemed fine with her. But, as the story unravels, everyone will sound find that a lot of people could have been involved.

Charles Dickens, a then young journalist and aspiring author, is having dinner with his editor's family when piercing screams are heard. The young man, along with Kate Hogarth - his editor's daughter - will find themselves trying to help the poor young lady. When she dies, Charles will vouch to find the person hiding behind this strange death. What will he find out with Kate's help? Is anyone else in real danger?

A very interesting mystery book, A Tale of Two Murders tells the story of a young Charles Dickens and his future wife: an intelligent and courageous duo, who - in this story- both enjoy solving a good mystery. The setting was historically accurate,the atmosphere was great and the characters were refreshingly original. I found the ending quite unpredictable up to the end almost, which is, of course, a very good sign for a mystery plot! I enjoyed the tenacity and intelligence of Kate Hogarth, and loved the fact that it was a duo solving a mystery instead of one just person. Overall, this was a very pleasant book to read. Recommended for the fans of mysteries.
Profile Image for Nadishka Aloysius.
Author 24 books60 followers
December 21, 2020
Charles Dickens as a character in a book... Now that was an interesting premise.
Obviously the author is a fan of his work: she admits as much in the acknowledgements.
This was not a page turner. The pace was a little slow. However, I was interested to see how much of Dickens' real life was incorporated into the book - that took some extra reading on my part but I enjoyed it.
In the story, Charles Dickens is not a novelist yet. He is working hard as a journalist to make a name for himself and assist his family. He meets and courts Kate who is to be is wife, and together they investigate the death of an heiress.
I think the setting had being well researched and was believable. The characters well drawn.
I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.
179 reviews
August 25, 2022
This is the first in a series of books featuring Charles Dickens as a young man working as a reporter for a London newspaper.
During dinner at his boss's house the evening is interrupted by screams coming from the neighbour's home. Rushing there they find the young daughter very ill. By the next morning she was dead.
Upon hearing of another young woman who died the same way a year earlier. Charles is determined to find if these women were in fact murdered and along the way hope to impress his boss's daughter Kate.
I loved the very accurate description of England in the 1800's. Bring on the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Tammy.
4 reviews2 followers
August 16, 2018
This book I feel is just ok. The characters were well developed and three dimensional in my mind's eye. The author did a good job incorporating enough backstory in just the right places to keep the reader in the know. There was a lot of back and forth of who did it and why. But the ending is why I gave it 3 stars. The author just didn't bring it all together in the end. It was cleaned up neat and tidy for William and Julie, but not for Charles and Kate, who were by far, the main characters as they were in 95% of the book.
Profile Image for Judy.
3,070 reviews21 followers
August 26, 2018
I enjoyed this novel using Charles Dickens and his future wife as the amateur sleuths when a next door neighbor dies in agony during a holiday feast. As they investigate, other deaths seem to be similarly suspicious. There were certainly lots of suspects (too many?) and familial entanglements before the murder is solved when the murderer tries again one too many times. I found the descriptions of life in London in the 1800's beguiling and the relationship between Dickens and his future wife sweet and entertaining. I will look forward to the next book in this series. 3.5 stars
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