A 100% cozily Victorian English setting with all the lovely trappings of the era (and genre of "cozy" mystery and romance books that are set in that pA 100% cozily Victorian English setting with all the lovely trappings of the era (and genre of "cozy" mystery and romance books that are set in that period) -- starring two NON-WHITE male leads who fit the era and feel of KJ Charles books perfectly! Unabashedly romantic in endgame, with great plot and beautifully conflicted characters who were very compelling and felt authentically themselves/non-white while existing seamlessly within this time period where non-white characters are generally not written. And yet, just like today, there they are, living and reacting and thriving (or not, in Gil's case) and problem-solving and connecting and falling in love, just as you'd expect of the leads in another beautiful KJ Charles romance.
I loved seeing the iteration of Charles's "righteous man" archetype in Vikram, who is as elegantly rich and intellectual as any of Charles's gentleman scholars and dandies like Julian or da Silva but must grapple with the injustices he's borne witness to as an Indian man in an era where Indian immigrant indentured servants were largely exploited and abandoned with few resources for either survival or seeking recourse. An absolutely unique cause for Vik that makes sense only for him/would not have been a cause any of KJ Charles's other "men of justice" like Day or Silas would realistically have known about or championed, but extremely interesting, compelling, and period-appropriate all the same. So to all those who said you couldn't do a non-depressing story in this era/cozy genre with non-white characters, or that brown-washing the characters in this kind of story was pointless or ruined the flavor of the story, here is KJ Charles proving you categorically wrong. This was a wonderful read on so many levels and it would've been five stars if it had been a full novel....more
*SPOILERS* I really enjoyed this book--fantastic writing and characters who were very likable/sympathetic and made a lot of**spoiler alert** 3.5 stars
*SPOILERS* I really enjoyed this book--fantastic writing and characters who were very likable/sympathetic and made a lot of sense to me as people. Several reviewers have mentioned confusion about how the attraction between the two MCs develops so quickly into such a strong love (at least on Mathias's part), but considering what we know of Mathias and the stage of life he's in, I didn't find it very hard to believe. The confusing part for me, emotionally, was how Mathias's relationship with Arturus resolves itself.
I actually kind of expected a bigger confrontation between them (emotionally, not physically). The fact that Arturus's body moved automatically to protect Mathias when his life was threatened even after Mathias had betrayed him felt like an important moment to me, and I was surprised Mathias never really addressed/responded to that, and was able to put such a final end to their long friendship in the way that he did. In fact, in some ways, despite how sympathetic and interesting and pleasing I found the main/love story between Reve and Mathias, I almost feel like there was a much richer and deeper story between Mathias and Arturus that could have been explored, even if it was not a romantic one.
Anyway, as I mentioned, the writing was excellent and the story's progression enjoyable overall. It perhaps needed a bit of tightening toward the end so that the climax was more intense (because goodness knows, there's plenty of stakes and drama already inherent in the story; it was just odd that it didn't hit harder for all that). And I have a feeling highlighting the Mathias/Arturus reckoning might have done it? But anyway, I'll stop rattling on about those two. It was an engaging read and a very tasteful prince-turned-slave love story overall. Recommended!...more
3.5 stars -- so much real-world girl power and an intelligently drawn portrait of the near future with the kind of real-world diversity that reflects3.5 stars -- so much real-world girl power and an intelligently drawn portrait of the near future with the kind of real-world diversity that reflects modern-day/future USA. A very good read....more
Mr. Quin is probably Dame Christie's least known "detective" because she wrote so few of his stories, and did so very sporadically--only when she "felMr. Quin is probably Dame Christie's least known "detective" because she wrote so few of his stories, and did so very sporadically--only when she "felt like" writing them, as she reported in her autobiography. And objectively, these stories do have some messiness to them (which is lovely—this is Christie writing with abandon, for herself, without self-consciousness/awareness of the public, for once) that would make publishers and reviewers deem that not worth a closer look, which is one reason I think we don’t hear much about the. But having read them, I believe that Mr. Quin and his stories are at the absolute core of who Agatha Christie was as a person, and that if you want to unravel perhaps the greatest mystery Christie presented in her grand and unmatchably ingenious canon—the mystery of who Agatha Christie, the brilliant author of the world’s greatest puzzles, really was, and what made her tick—then this volume of Mr. Quin stories is absolutely indispensable reading.
It took me a while (and perhaps Christie as well) to really understand what Mr. Quin's deal was/what she was trying to achieve with him as a character. I think she started writing his stories without her usual disciplined/strict outlining and planning because she wrote them simply as a writer normally writes—to "please her Muse" and pour out what was inside of her and figure out what was really there.
On the surface, The Mysterious Mr. Quinn is an anthology of short story mysteries narrated by Mr. Satterthwaite (a less-known recurring character in the Christieverse)—a posh, rich, little gentleman in his golden years who gets invited to the best parties but remains always an observer of the dramas conducted around him by more exciting people and, like Poirot at times, regrets letting life go by without him—in which he witnesses the comings (and abrupt goings) of the mysterious Mr. Quin. Mr. Quin is a tall, handsome, reservedly charismatic man who rivets Mr. S (and the reader) immediately in that way that Christie’s most brilliant detectives do; he knows something, he’s the only person who really knows what’s what in the room and the narrator is fascinated by what Mr. Quin knows and may reveal. The added twist/schtick of Mr. Quin is that—in complete opposition to the endearingly conceited Poirot and other Christie detectives—he knows all the answers from the outset but does NOT tell us mere mortals the answer. Instead, he prompts Mr. Satterthwaite—the perennial wallflower—to speak or act and thus unravel the mystery instead. He’s like the mentor (or helpful ghost sidekick?) version of Poirot—he knows the answer but instead of revealing it to the public himself, he guides his “student” (Satterthwaite) to solve the puzzle himself and take the glory instead. It made me wonder if this was what Christie wanted for herself in some way—or if, perhaps, she saw herself as Mr. Quin and her famous detectives as her Mr. Satterthwaites, whom she benevolently gave all her brilliant answers to and thrust into the limelight. Actually, there’s an alternate way to read what Mr. Quin meant to Christie as well; from the way she builds up and absolutely cherishes his short appearances on screen (and the way Mr. S longs to see him/feels so happy/whole whenever he appears), I wonder if Mr. Quin isn’t ultimately the Dream Someone (Soul Mate? True Love? Muse?) who understood and completed her that she longed to find in life and couldn’t. It might sound like an odd stretch to make that assertion, but I feel like reading this book/character has painted the clearest and wholest picture of her I’ve ever had. The longing in the narrative of these stories surrounding Mr. Quin, the special/tantalizing air of mystery she shrouded him in, and the romantic/dynamic heart of a woman who loved her plucky heroines and tan-skinned, blue-eyed explorers back from wildest Africa, etc, and was clearly bursting with life and passion herself but limited by what the society of her time said a woman of her class or looks or so on could do (and the very fact that she was “just a woman,” period)—I think she always felt misunderstood/undervalued in life (and left out—there’s a reason many of her smartest detectives are outsiders/disenfranchised and underestimated in some way), and that using her intelligence and cleverness to write novels that could outsmart and draw acclaim from men was her way of filling that void inside her. But anyone with that kind of void in them, who feels unseen for her true self, is always looking for the someone who WILL understand. And knowing that Mr. Quin was a character she continued to write even after her second and lasting/happy marriage makes me a little sad, because it says to me that she was still hoping and searching for that perfect someone who really would fully understand her and give her what she needed. Anyway, apart from the entertaining read these stories represented, these psychological insights on my favorite author of all time were what this book gave me. Maybe I’m entirely wrong or nuts to draw all this out of what I read in this anthology, but there’s no way to know unless you give it a read yourself and see. ;-) Highly recommended to all Christie fans. ...more