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Search tags: 1920s
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review 2017-04-03 17:13
In This Grave Hour
In This Grave Hour: A Maisie Dobbs Novel - Jacqueline Winspear

In This Grave Hour is the most recent "Maisie Dobbs" historical mystery, and about the dozenth or so in the series.  This series began when it was 1929, and Miss Dobbs was first opening her detective agency in a quiet London square.  It is now September 1939, Britain is at war with Germany, and Maisie has a new case - is someone murdering men who were refugees from Belgium when they were boys, 25 years ago?

 

Matters are complicated by her father having 3 child evacuees living with him down in the country - two boys whom he can handle, and a five-year-old girl who won't talk.  An additional problem is that no one seems to know her name, who her parents are, or where she's from.

 

Maisie will investigate both cases, and come to suspect that her client is either lying to her, or not telling the entire truth.

 

This was a distinct improvement from the last one, Journey to Munich, which featured spies and Americans ex machina.

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review 2017-03-28 21:19
Racing the Devil
Racing the Devil - Charles Todd

Racing the Devil is the most recent (I think) Charles Todd "Ian Rutledge" mystery.  And it's a good novel, despite being #19 in a series.  (I always get a bit dubious as a series goes very long.  I'm looking at you, "... in Death.")

 

In 1916, on the eve of the Somme offensive, 7 British officers meet at an ad hoc cantina in a barn, and while getting drunk, find that they are all from the southeast of England, and are all auto racing fans.  They agree that if any of them survive the war, a year after the war ends they will meet in Paris and race their cars down to Nice.

 

Five of them survive to make the race, held in November 1919.  But one of them ends his race in a terrible accident, and they go home not in triumph but a bit saddened.

 

Now, it is the autumn of 1920, and the police down in Surrey are concerned, because they have had an auto accident that makes no sense to them.  The local rector died in a crash, but it wasn't his car; it was the local squire's.  Also, there are traces of green paint on the rear of the car.  Was the rector forced off the road?  Why was he driving the car, in the first place?  Was the "accident" not so accidental?

 

So they call in Scotland Yard, and the Yard sends down Inspector Rutledge.  He must unravel a truly twisty tale, full of murder, attempted murder, blackmail, and kidnapping.

 

Partway through, I figured three or 3 1/2 stars for this one, but Todd managed to pull all the strings together very nicely and made a very solid finish.  At least one evening I stayed up until "gulp" o'clock reading it.  

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review 2017-02-25 17:36
Murder Offstage
Murder Offstage: A Posie Parker Mystery (The Posie Parker Mystery Series) (Volume 1) - L.B. Hathaway

Murder Offstage is a first book in a series ("Posie Parker Mysteries"), and, indeed, is a first novel.

 

It rather reads as a first novel - the plot is too complicated and frenetic, and only barely avoided having the kitchen sink involved.  Murder!  Diamond thieves!  Kidnapping!  Smuggling!  Counterfeiting!  And to top it all off, a Criminal Mastermind with a cat in his lap.

 

Alas, not this one.

 

Did I mention the tired "soused aristocrat with a secret" trope and a plot that just doesn't make terribly much sense?

 

I got it because the setting, 1921 London, and the supposed focus (the theater scene), but I doubt I'll read another one, frankly.

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review 2017-02-09 03:32
Secrets and Small-Town Lies
A Death in the Dales (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) - Frances Brody

The latest in this savvy historical mystery takes Kate to a small town full of dark secrets. A mystery that is also a character(s) study. Worth the read!

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine: http://affairedecoeur.com.

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review 2016-11-09 18:47
Hunting Shadows
Hunting Shadows - Charles Todd

Hunting Shadows is one of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge mysteries - Rutledge returned from the Western Front to his pre-war job at Scotland Yard in 1919 with a secret - he suffers not only from shell shock and claustrophobia (from being buried alive), but also has a dead Scot named "Hamish" living in his head.

 

By this point in the series it is the summer of 1920, and there have been two murders in the fen country of Cambridgeshire which mystify the local authorities, and they have called in Scotland Yard.  First a guest at a society wedding in the medieval cathedral town of Ely was killed by a rifle shot, and then a solicitor standing for office was murdered, in the same fashion, while making a campaign speech in his rural constituency.  There was a witness to the second crime, but after the local constable and her neighbors mocked her account of seeing a "monster," she has clammed up completely.

 

Scotland Yard sends in Inspector Rutledge, who finds he must discover the facts of past events to find the truth of those in the present.  And it's like finding a needle in a haystack, or "hunting shadows" in a fen country fog.

 

I found this mystery well constructed, and the setting, reminiscent of Dorothy Sellers' Nine Taylors, well done.  However, the cover, though getting the suggestion of fog right, suggests a "pea-souper" in London, rather than the actual rural and small-town setting that makes up the majority of the book.

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