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Showing posts with the label historical mysteries

Reading journal: Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

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Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery Published: 2017 Series: Green Men Read: January 2018 Set in Britain after the first World War, which had been fought in the occult world as well as the muddy and lethal real one. Saul Lazenby, a disgraced archeologist, takes a job working for an obsessive amateur researcher, the kind of man “liable to end up with ancient masonry falling on his head”. The investigations put Saul in danger’s way too often to be coincidental. Saul meets Randolph Glyde, a man responsible for keeping the mystical world on an even keel. The action shifts to the fens, where Saul and Randolph are trapped out of time and attacked by horrible fen-grendels rising up from the marshes. They survive through courage and “kissing for dear life in a dead land”. A great story, excellent pace, scary scenes, suspense, interesting ideas, sarcastic humour and a happy ending, everything I’ve come to expect from KJ Charles. Highly recommended.

Reading journal: Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne

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Genre: Historical romance Published: 2017 Series: Spymaster Read: February 2018 After the French Revolution came the Napoleonic Wars, and after the wars came the wash-up of displaced people, resentment and revenge. But “spies never retire” . Séverine de Cabrillac, a French-born British spy, is working in London. When not busy helping the British service prevent an assassination attempt on Lord Wellington, she takes on a case helping jewel thief Raoul Deverney to find his missing daughter. I enjoyed this book, although not quite as much as earlier books in the series. Some favourite characters make a reappearance, including the deadly Adrian Hawkhurst — “Hawk lounged at his side of the table with all the noncommittal menace of one of the better breeds of cat.” I suggest starting with the first book in the series, The Forbidden Rose , which takes place in France during the French Revolution. It has a cracking beginning — the starving protagonist talks to the rabbit she

Reading journal: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

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Genre: Mystery/Historical Published: 2018 Read: February 2018 Perveen Mistry is one of the first women lawyers in India, working in her father’s practice in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1921. Paperwork around an inheritance leads her to help three Muslim widows living in seclusion and vulnerable to exploitation. A second thread of flashbacks exposes the collapse of Perveen’s own marriage some years earlier. A meaty story with many interesting characters and a firm historical background. Massey describes India under British rule, long before independence or partition. As a lawyer Perveen must deal with the languages and legal systems appropriate to particular religions and ethnic groups. Massey depicts this rich cultural mix as well as exploring the strictures around women and marriage. Highly recommended.

Reading journal: Midwinter by John Buchan

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Genre: Action adventure Published: 1923 Read: January 2018 I didn’t enjoy this as much as I remembered from my last read a couple of decades ago. It jumbles together too many strands—the 1745 Jacobite rebellion in Britain, spies, treachery, a love affair, Samuel Johnson the dictionary writer, and secret bands of men who are part of an older,   better England. The protagonist, Captain Alastair MacLean, is engaged in spy work for Bonnie Prince Charlie. He is rescued from difficulties and ethical errors by Midwinter, the leader of hidden men who live close to nature and form the mystical backbone of old England. In many places the pace drops off and the story becomes dreary and dull. The disappearance and reappearance of Samuel Johnson is confusing and adds little to the tale. There isn't enough suspense. The only really scary part is when MacLean is in danger of being thrown into a pothole, a deep pit with grinding rocks at the bottom. Nasty. I think they could ha

Book review: Taken at Night by Christa Ludlow

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A historical mystery set in Australia, can’t get enough of them. This great story, set in pre-Federation Sydney, Australia, in 1900, features a female photographer, Beatrix Spencer, and a detective, Fergus Blair, trying to get to the bottom of mysterious disappearances and nasty deaths. The author cleverly weaves in historical elements that are still part of the fabric of Sydney today. Beatrix and Fergus fight against police and political corruption, the criminal element that inhabited The Rocks area (now a tourist precinct), the fear of plague, the banishing of foreigners to an island quarantine station, and healthy doses of racism and misogyny. I liked this book for a whole host of reasons. It included the multicultural threads that have always been here, Indigenous Australians, Chinese, and Pacific Islanders. I liked Beatrix (a popular name back then, my grandmother was called Beatrice), she was persistent and clever without being pretentious or precocious. I loved