Category: Historical Fiction

Way of All Flesh
October 5th, 2018 by diane92345

The Way of All Flesh emphasizes the historical while leaving the mystery almost as an afterthought.

In 1847 Edinburgh, medicine is rudimentary and painkillers were thought to be against God’s will. When Will becomes the apprentice of Dr. Simpson, an obstetrician, he sees some horrific things.

In the mystery, Will finds the dead body of his friend, Evie, who is a prostitute. He enlists the help of intelligent housemaid, Sarah, to find Evie’s killer. As other bodies pile up, Will and Sarah continue to investigate.

Atmosphere and medical research are favored over the mystery in the Way of All Flesh. The book seemed to drag a bit in the middle for me. However, it is recommended for historical fiction fans especially those who liked the television show the Knick or historical medical practices. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Canongate US, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

October 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

A beguiling mystery, unique romance and dynamic characters make the Hollow of Fear a perfect readcation for female Sherlock Holmes fans.

Set in Victorian England, the Hollow of Fear follows Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson. Looking for her half-brother, Charlotte runs into Moriarty’s handiwork. Also, when Lady Ingram turns up dead, Lord Ingram is suspected. Charlotte must find the real murderer to clear his name while her relationship with the Lord takes an unexpected turn.

The use of Victorian language and plot devices (hidden tunnels and a multitude of disguises) matches the original Holmes atmosphere well. I especially liked the unusual romantic dynamic between Charlotte and Lord Ingram. Despite swapping genders of some characters and a very 21st century feeling to Charlotte, the mystery felt like it belonged in the Sherlock Holmes canon. It definitely wasn’t easy for this armchair detective to solve.

This is my first book in the series. While understandable as a stand alone, I felt the tale would have been more enjoyable if I had read the two previous books first. Regardless, it is a solid 4 star read!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley, and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , , ,

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles
August 28th, 2018 by diane92345

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles is a clever reinvention of an iconic 1960s cartoon character.

Snagglepuss was originally a pink swishy wannabe actor and actual mountain lion in the Yogi the Bear cartoons beginning in 1959. This comic, set in 1953, casts Snagglepuss as a successful playwright caught up in the McCarthy Congressional hearings looking for communist sympathizers within the show business community.

I wasn’t expecting such a serious comic based on such a silly character from my childhood. However, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles won me over. Even though this is set during the 1950s, it brings with it the more accepting mindset of 2018. Snagglepuss is married to Lila Lion, who both has a beard and is a beard for Snagglepuss’ gay lifestyle with boyfriend Pablo. Pablo escaped from Baptiste’s Cuba after his friend is murdered by government thugs for being openly homosexual. Many famous icons from the 1950s appear: Dorothy Parker, Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Joe Dimaggio, Clint Eastwood and Arthur Miller. Huckleberry Hound is also out of the closet and a novelist. Even the iconic Stonewall club is featured.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles is not a comic for everyone. It is a deep dive into mid-century politics from a modern viewpoint. I would recommend it to readers of historical fiction and fans of thoughtful movies like Hidden Figures and the Imitation Game. Since I embrace both of those categories, 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction Tagged with: ,

The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of Rene Descartes
August 23rd, 2018 by diane92345

Set in Europe in the 1600s, The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of Rene Descartes is an overlong but enthralling mystery.

Told from the point of view of Adrien, a Jesuit sent by his church to investigate Descartes’ death.  As the amateur sleuth finds a multitude of suspects, the book quickly becomes a mystery set in an unusual environment, the court of Sweden’s Queen Christina.

Most thrillers are relatively short around 350 pages to keep the action exciting.  The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of Rene Descartes is much longer at 508 pages.  Adding in all the historical details takes a few pages, I get it.  However, once past the length, the story draws the reader into a different time and place.  There are few books so good at making you totally forget your own problems (and occasionally to eat). In addition, you will learn quite a bit about history and philosophy though I don’t know enough to know what is fact and what is fiction. This book is highly recommended to historical fiction fans.  For thriller fans, probably not as much. It would make a good public television mini-series. 4 stars!

I received an electronic copy of the book from Online Book Club but that in no way impacted my honest review.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Butterfly Conspiracy
August 6th, 2018 by diane92345

What Butterfly Conspiracy results in a woman’s death after a rare butterfly lands on her arm?

Merula is left by her mother at her family’s house as a baby five years after her mother’s escape from the rigid Victorian house’s rules. Luckily, Merula’s fascination with butterflies is supported by her Uncle Rupert.

In those sexist times, Merula’s rare butterfly, Attacus Atlas, must be displayed at a house party by the Royal Zoological Society as her Uncle’s work. When rich Lady Sophia drops dead after handling the rare butterfly, Uncle Rupert is arrested for murder. Merula is helped to escape the house party by Lord Raven Royston known for the public failure of his investments. The two search for the real how and why of Lady Sophia’s death while trying to stay one step before the police. The characters they meet are a treat.

Set in the same world as the Veronica Speedwell series, I enjoyed the self-effacing Merula’s world much better. The Butterfly Conspiracy is completely G rated which is more appropriate for the setting. Plus the mystery and the subtle romantic feeling between Merula and Royston seem more organic. I loved the twists leading up to the conclusion. I can’t wait for the next book in the Merriweather and Royston series.

This book is recommended for Veronica Speedwell fans as well as historical fiction fans that enjoy a good mystery or vice versa. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Island of the Mad
June 16th, 2018 by diane92345

Mary and Sherlock are back to work in Island of the Mad.

Mary’s old friend Ronnie’s “mad” Aunt Vivian has disappeared. Returning early from a home visit to Bedlam, both Vivian and her caregiver never arrive. After a search fails to find her, Mary and Sherlock are enlisted into the search. Mary enters Bedlam undercover as a patient. Lady Vivian has reason to believe Bedlam is a safe harbor and her lifestyle before entering comes into question. The search continues among the rich internationals in Venice.

This is the first book in the series I’ve read and it works as a stand alone. However, some of the teases to what happened to Watson and Mrs. Hudson make me look forward to reading some of the earlier entries later. I selected this series because of glowing references to it in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series by Vicki Delany.

This book is highly recommended to Sherlock Holmes fans. It is also great for historical fiction fans interested in the build-up to World War II in Europe. It’s 1925 and the fascists are afoot! I thoroughly enjoyed the well-researched Sherlock Holmes references along with all the characters. Mary, being a feminist, was especially enjoyable. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Bantam Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

High Tide Club
May 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Romance, history, southern charm, friendships, family and secrets swirl in the High Tide Club.

At 99, Josephine is dying on her half of an island off the coast of Georgia. She calls Brooke, an attorney, to help search for her best friends, Ruth, Millie and Varina, from over 80 years earlier. Josephine had a falling out with her friends but now wants to deed her island home to them or their descendants. She also wants Brooke to stop the state from taking her home under eminent domain.

Brooke is a single mother with a 3-year old son and has a past as a runaway bride. She also has plenty of bills that are barely covered by her one-woman law firm. She needs to keep Josephine as a client despite the ethical issues of one of the friends being her grandmother. To setup the trust for Josephine, Brooke asks her old boss and mentor, Gabe, for help.

Alternating between the 1940s and current day, the reason for the friends’ schism and the disappearance of one’s finance is slowly revealed. The High Tide Club is a perfect beach read: light and frothy with a murderous undertow. It is recommended for both mystery, thriller, historical fiction and especially romantic suspense fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: , ,