This installment meanders a bit, as it juggles multiple story lines, plus lessons in architecture. Thomas "Oh was that your Tiger tank?" Nightingale gets to show why he's the teacher and Peter & Lesley are the apprentices. I particularly enjoyed Toby's increased role in this book, being Peter's magic detector (the yap-o-metre) and camouflage (a man with a dog is virtually invisible, apparently).
Peter has matured since the first book. Lesley gives him a hard time, needling him about why he and Beverly Brook aren't sleeping together yet. In the first couple of books, Peter would have jumped in first and thought things through later, but he has learned to think with his big head and is suitably cautious. After all, if your relationship with a goddess goes pear-shaped, you know who is going to suffer most (and it won't be Beverly).
I'm still enjoying the effortless multicultural and inclusive cast of characters, however don't imagine that I have no criticism! I'm not wild about the Faceless Man as an antagonist (although I did enjoy Peter's reference to his lab as the Strip Club of Dr. Moreau). But, having read to the end of this volume, how can I doubt that I will read the next to see the next event in the drama?
Anthologies are, generally speaking, a tricky business. Whether they are written by one author or by several authors. But "Continental Crimes" happily avoids these traps. These are solid British murder mysteries set in different countries on the continent. There are stories by Agatha Christie, Josephine Bell, Arnold Bennett, Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K.Chesterton and many others...Of course, not all the stories are brilliant, but they are very good and some are brilliant which makes this a surprisingly very good anthology.
First of all, let's just take a moment to appreciate that I finally finished a monthly read for More Historical Than Fiction. Yay, me! I know, I know. That's not really applause worthy, but I'm taking my successes where I can get them. ;-)
This book was a quick, enjoyable read for me. As a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and a skilled creation of the Tudor world, it captivated and held my attention. I liked the fact that even though Queen Elizabeth never appears in a scene, the reader is given a strong impression of her character and heavy hand on events.
"Those who caught her eye lived a life between heaven and hell depending on her moods, which were as changeable as the weather: one moment sunshine and balm, the next thunder and rage."
Digging a little bit deeper, this book has a few flaws. John Shakespeare makes a great first impression, but I began to wonder what it was that he really believed and stood for as the book carried on. He is willing to risk his life to do his job, but why? The religious battle that grips the country seems to matter little to him, and he has no problem arresting one Catholic and sleeping with another.
Yet it wasn't until the odd Mother Davis bit that I took this book out of 5-star contention. I'm not even sure what to say about that strange episode.
The conclusion of the book felt a bit rushed after all the suspense of getting there, but the appearance of Will Shakespeare was a fun way to wrap things up. This is a series that will go on my TBR.
I was eager to read this book, the Reformation one of my favorite eras of history and having written about Mary I of England myself. This novel promised to offer another point of view by featuring reformer, John Knox. For those who enjoy Scottish historical fiction set in the 16th century, this is a must-read.
The first thing that struck me, and I imagine most readers, is the heavy use of Scottish vernacular. For the most part, it is easy enough to determine what is intended and it adds to the authenticity of the story. However, some readers may find it frustrating. The next thing that I noticed was that it took a long time for Knox to enter the story. While this is the first in a trilogy exploring his life, much of this installment sets the stage for what is to come.
Elisabeth Hepburn is truly the protagonist of this tale, and she is a spunky one. A girl with romantic dreams of marrying for love, her future holds a rather different role for her. Women did not have many choices in those days, but Elisabeth makes the most of the situations that she is forced into without becoming anachronistic. It is through her that the reader is (finally) introduced to Knox.
Macpherson infuses this story with all of the drama, politics, religious unrest, and tragedy of the 16th century, and I look forward to continuing with the series.