Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cut to the quick” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Cut to the quick
Kate Ross
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cut to the quick (Julian Kestrel Mysteries #1)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  3,434 Ratings  ·  288 Reviews
To the ranks of great sleuths of ages past, add a new candidate - Julian Kestrel - a detective as historically authentic as Brother Cadfael and as dashing as Lord Peter Wimsey. Kestrel is the reigning dandy of London in the 1820s, famous for his elegant clothes and his unflappable sangfroid. One night he rescues a young aristocrat named Hugh Fontclair from a gambling house ...more
337 pages
Published December 2nd 1993 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published January 1st 1993)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cut to the quick, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cut to the quick

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 28, 2011 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Implausible but entertaining Regency mystery of the traditional English sort: house parties, family secrets, engagements, silly servants, bumbling local authorities, ridiculous webs of lies, lots of descriptions of clothing, many cups of tea.

It's obvious that Ross is steeped in both the mystery and Regency romance traditions. Her lovers misunderstand one another, her local gentry are haughty, and her detective is smarter than anyone else around. Julian Kestrel is almost too much of a good thing
1824, London

CUT TO THE QUICK introduced the well-dressed Julian Kestrel; a gentleman without a formal education or prospects. He had no money to speak of but his strength was his common sense and shrewd judge of character. It also didn't hurt that he was popular, and young noblemen tended to imitate his style of dress.

'Prinny' was now King George IV. Obese and aging rapidly, his years were numbered and he had become somewhat of a recluse. But London was still a hotspot and the ton were a gossip
Feb 24, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, regency
A few months after Julian Kestral, a fashionable lounger, helps Hugh Fontclair out of a scrape, he's invited to be best man at Hugh's wedding. Kestral is surprised--he's only met Hugh that once--but intrigued. He travels to the Fontclair estate, hoping for a restful vacation in the country, only to find that the family members are all at each others' throats. Then someone is found murdered. First because he's curious, then because he's worried for his manservant, Kestral insists on investigating ...more
Khanh (the meanie)
Do you know what it is to love someone unworthy? When you can't respect the person you love, you can't respect yourself.

This is a good start to a Regency mystery series featuring Julian Kestrel. It is well-written, the plot is reasonable and moves in a believable pace and direction. Without modern detective tools, the people involved in solving the mystery use mainly deduction, reason, and observation to solve the case.

The characters were mostly well-written, none were so outlandish as to be unb
Originally read in 2/2003 - Re-read and re-reviewed 2/2010

First Sentence: Mark Craddock paced slowly, deliberately, back and forth behind the desk in his study.

Regency dandy and detective Julian Kestrel rescues young Hugh Fontclair from embarrassment at a gambling hell and, in turn, is asked to serve as best man for Hugh’s forced marriage to Maud Craddock. Kestral, along with is man Dipper, travels to the Fontclair country home for a weekend with both families. The last thing he expected was to
These excellent Regency historical mysteries get even better as they go along. The sleuth, Julian Kestrel, is a dandy with a mysterious past, and there are many memorable supporting characters: Dipper, Kestrel's manservant and former pickpocket; Sally, Dipper's sister (whom I wanted to see more of after her initial appearance in A Broken Vessel); MacGregor, the crusty Scottish doctor; and young Philippa Fontclair (and I wonder if her name is meant as a homage to Dorothy Dunnett's Philippa Somerv ...more
Dec 06, 2009 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, z2010-reads
"You're cynical. I thought you would be. Can you sneer?"
"With terrifying effect."

Hugh Fontclair finds himself drunk and seriously out of his depth at a gaming hell where he is taken by his feckless cousin to celebrate his engagement. He is rescued by a gentleman of the dandy set named Julian Kestrel and is sent home safe and sound. Thankful, Hugh invites Julian to his family home, a gorgeous mansion & estate that dates back to Elizabethan times, for a house party to celebrate his nuptials.

May 21, 2012 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I give up. After procrastinating for almost a week, I'm still no nearer articulating my reaction to this book. Instead, I keep recalling Northwest Smith's reaction to transcendental beauty in C. L. Moore's "Black Thirst" — a mind-disorienting sense of vertigo.

Cut to the Quick is a Regency murder mystery in the tradition of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction adhering, consciously or unconsciously, to Knox's Rules or Van Dine's Commandments. No twists, no plot holes, no omniscient narrator sleigh
Nov 24, 2008 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19thcentury, mystery
The debut of Julian Kestrel and a very neatly done mystery. One of the great things about Kate Ross' writing is that while she creates a character with a number of extraordinary talents, she reveals the extent of them slowly of the course of the four books that she wrote so the reader is not overwhelmed by too much uniqueness. I always liked that Julian had enough personality quirks to be fascinating without being so overdone that his perfection was annoying. I also appreciated the little detail ...more
A cozy type historical mystery - first in a series - that was enjoyable enough but dragged out a bit. I'm not running out to buy the next in the series.
The mystery was plotted well and had a satisfying finish, though some of the clues jumped out at me. The investigation was also very, very talky, and I tend to prefer a faster pace.

Julian Kestrel was an interesting lead, though I think the idea of him was a little better than his execution. Other characters speak as if he's this fashion-obsessed dandy, but he doesn't act that way apart from the occasional throwaway quip. I think I'd have enjoyed him more if he'd truly been a frivolous gentleman
Nov 29, 2008 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had stumbled across Kate Ross’s most recent novel Whom the Gods Love. Her detective is Julian Kestrel, a rake who, with the help of Dipper, a reformed pickpocket, solves crimes that leave the Bow Street Runners (Scotland Yard’s predecessors) baffled. Naturally, I wanted to read the earlier Kestrel novels and I’m pleased to report that Ross’s first novel, Cut to the Quick lived up to my expectations. Julian has been invited to be best man at the wedding of Hugh Fontclair. He soon realizes som ...more
Les pouvoirs de réflexion de Julian Kestrel rendent clairement hommage aux détectives de l'âge d'or du roman policier anglais "whodunit", mais il possède toute l'empathie de leurs confrères plus contemporains, les Sebastian St. Cyr et les Eraste Fandorine.
Sa première aventure est un beau mystère à l'anglaise sur fond d'affaires de famille. Et qu'importe la série de coïncidences improbables qui permettent de résoudre l'enquête. Et tant pis si, malgré la vraisemblance du contexte historique, les p
Jamie Collins
A nice murder mystery set in England in the 1820’s. The sleuth, Julian, is immensely likable, and I really wanted the book to be more about him. We learn that he’s a Regency dandy, and we’re given a few facts about him, but he jumps into detective mode before we get a good idea of what his life is like.

The book is strongly focused on the mystery, and it’s carefully, almost too deliberately crafted. Early on, for instance, some casual asides stand out rather obviously as clues. It’s enjoyable, ne
An excellent mystery set in the Regency period. Although I figured out who the killer was early on, there were enough red herrings thrown in that I was doubting myself. I enjoyed reading about Julian Kestrel and his ex-pick pocket valet, Dipper and look forward to revisiting them in the next three books.
Shala Howell
Good story, but I found the writing/dialogue to be ponderous. Am going to check out another one, because Ross came highly recommended, and it's possible that this is a first novel sort of problem that will shake out.
MB (What she read)
Pretty sure I must have read this a long time ago. Upon reading, a lot seemed familar.

Odd Observation:

You know, from reading Georgette Heyer, I picture "Dandies" as being overly decorated and obsessed with fad and fashion to the point of effemininity--someone of whom manly men make fun. (Which, I assume, is not what Kate Ross was referencing?)

As per descriptions, Kestrel seems much more likely to be what Heyer calls a "Corinthian", a fashionable man-about-town, in the manner of Beau Brummel. Res
Jul 09, 2014 sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent whodunnit that contains some of my favorite mystery tropes (English country house setting, the locked room conundrum). A few small flaws with the writing, particularly the way Ross shifts POV (sometimes mid-scene, argh) seemingly arbitrarily -- I feel that mysteries are best when told from one point of view, or when the author very consciously offers up a bunch of unreliable narrators (cf. Wilkie Collins) as a way of making the style of the narrative suit the content. Including a fe ...more
A very well done Regency mystery (note: not a romance with a mystery story component) with an intelligent, intriguing sleuth named Julian Kestrel. Kate Ross' writing style is heavily dialogue dependent with minimal narrative description or exposition. At times, this reliance on dialogue does lead to some unnaturally long expository monologues by the characters though. :) Still, I did like that the reader is able to form their own opinions about the characters through their words and actions rath ...more
While reading this book, I wondered if Kate Ross had a checklist of some sort to make sure she hit every cliche and expectation of a book set in this era: Lords and Ladies? Check! Country house party? Check! Unrequited love? Check! Check! Devilishly handsome protagonist with snappy fashion sense and an unending supply of cash? Check! Devilishly handsome protagonist's quirky sidekick? Check! Regardless of the boiler plate plot line, I really enjoyed the crime, Julian Kestrel's involvement in solv ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was perhaps not in the same sphere as Anne Perry's Thomas Pitt and perhaps a little below the Sebastian St. Cyr novels but I still enjoyed it. The book was a little choppy and the author still seemed to be finding her voice however there were some passages that truly shined. Including all of the ones with Phillipa in them. I think in the next couple books Julian will start to separate himself from the pack. His character seemed a little bland. Perhaps he will be ...more
Apr 18, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
I loved this book. Loved. It.

This is one of the few mystery books I've read in which I had absolutely no idea who the guilty party was. Just when I thought I had a handle on what was going on, the author very deftly threw in a monkey wrench that forced me to rethink my suspicions. It was fantastic!

Julian Kestrel is an intriguing character, one who presents himself as the prototypical dandy, but is so much more than that under the surface. Cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

Text Addict
A really interesting story with a convoluted plot that does, I think make sense once all the details are know. Kind of a tragic ending, though. I like Julian Kestrel a lot as the investigator/hero, and the cast that includes a curmudgeonly doctor, people whose sense of honor leads them astray, and people whose sense of honor actually keeps them on the right path. Nonetheless, I think the characters aren't quite as well-developed as those in the 3rd volume of the series, which I happened to read ...more
May 30, 2009 Treece rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-works
I'm not a real fan of mystery. I love Agatha Christie (who doesn't) but aside, I was swept away by the dandy Julian Kestrel from the start. It's very sad that this author passed away so early.

This is a very good series that had so much potential.
Mar 04, 2013 Madelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julian Kestrel, a regency era dandy, becomes a sleuth when a dead girl's body is found in his bed. He is visiting a country estate to participate in an upcoming wedding. This book is full of intriging characters and I am looking forward to reading another book by the author.
Jan 04, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2007
Julian Kestrel is wonderful. What can I say more?
Dec 19, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absorbing country house mystery, set in the early 1800s and featuring a dilettante-turned-detective. Even though the ending was bittersweet, I loved the plot's twists and turns.
Terry Southard
Dec 27, 2015 Terry Southard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed. Regency murder mystery. Julian Kestrel is an appealing protagonist. Mystery was well thought out and I found it satisfying. I'm ready to read #2 out of 4!
May 08, 2017 BeParticular rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be very enjoyable. Julian is a terrific character and I'll pick up the next book in the series just to see how he develops. The sense of place was well done. Most of the other characters held my interest (I certainly hope to see more of Dipper in future installments). The murder mystery kept me guessing nearly to the end. Ross had some excellent turns of phrase. Recommended.
This book was an online suggestion and I am glad I decided to read the series. Julian Kestrel is a really good detective with little clues to go on. The saddest thing about the series is that I understand the author Kate Ross is no longer with us, so we won't have any more books from her. She was an excellent writer and her plotting in this series is very, very good.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Julian Kestrel - will there be a book #5? 4 30 Jan 18, 2014 05:21PM  
  • Point of Honour (Sarah Tolerance, #1)
  • When Gods Die (Sebastian St. Cyr, #2)
  • Bellfield Hall (A Dido Kent Mystery #1)
  • Blind Justice (Sir John Fielding, #1)
  • Secrets of a Lady (Rannoch/Fraser Chronological Order, #11)
  • Death on a Silver Tray (Beau Brummell, #1)
  • Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn, #1)
  • The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar, #2)
  • Goodnight Sweet Prince (Lord Francis Powerscourt, #1)
  • A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily, #2)
  • Sweet Revenge (A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery #1)
  • The Thief-Taker (Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner #1)
Kate Ross, born Katherine Jean Ross, was an American mystery author who wrote four books set in Regency-era England about dandy Julian Kestrel. The novels in the series are Cut to the Quick (1994), which won the 1994 Gargoyle award for Best Historical Mystery, A Broken Vessel (1995), Whom the Gods Love (1996), and The Devil in Music (1997), which won the 1997 Agatha Award for Best Novel. The Lulla ...more
More about Kate Ross...

Other Books in the Series

Julian Kestrel Mysteries (4 books)
  • A Broken Vessel (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #2)
  • Whom the Gods Love (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #3)
  • The Devil in Music (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #4)

Share This Book

“I always think boredom is to some extent the fault of the bored.” 37 likes
“You're much better than fireworks. They're all over in a moment, and you're going to stay for a fortnight. Besides, fireworks are noisy, and they make too much smoke.” 10 likes
More quotes…