Oh man, Science Fiction from the 60's... So. Much. Sexism.
I am having a lot of Logan's Run flashbacks.
“Dr. Jubal Harshaw, professional clown, amateur subversive, and parasite by choice, had long attempted to eliminate 'hurry' and all related emotions from his pattern. Being aware that he had but a short time left to live and having neither Martian nor Kansan faith in his own immortality, it was his purpose to live each golden moment as if it were eternity—without fear, without hope, but with sybaritic gusto.”
In "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein
I believe it was Spider Robinson who once wrote "There's a special word that authors use to describe someone who thinks that every character is speaking for the author himself. That word is 'idiot'. " An actor isn't the role he plays. Most people understand that. Why do they assume an author necessarily agrees with everything his characters say in his books? The trouble with trying to nail down the politics of a prolific writer of fiction is the tendency to forget that writers of fiction explore themes, not necessarily manifestos. What Heinlein set forth in any one book would have been an exploration of one of a variety of ideas that would have informed his entire philosophy.
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
Not going to lie, this one so far is my least favorite of the series. It just drags and it's pretty obvious who has to be the bad guy because we are only introduced to one person who could have done it. Also for a book about Edgar Allen Poe this was boring. I have to admit though, I had no freaking clue the Baltimore Ravens were named for Poe's "The Raven" poem. How did I not know that? Interesting premise, but it just doesn't work.
"In a Strange City" has Tess and Crow dealing with the renovation of the house they bought. Tess has some downtime and gets asked about being hired to unmask the famed Visitor (a man who goes to Edgar Allen Poe's grave and toasts him, leaves flowers, and a note every year) that has become a Baltimore tradition. Tess is outraged about anyone trying to unmask this person so she decides to go with Crow to make sure that the Visitor is left alone. Instead two men meet at Poe's grave, and one is shot to death. With the police involved, Tess decides to track down the man who originally tried to hire her. She ends up running into the police and another private investigator on this one.
Tess is usually on her game, but in this one she gets beaten up twice and not really able to link things as well as she usually does (well not until the end). Tess and Crow seem to be solid, but honestly I needed him in a corner out of the way, he doesn't add much to this book. We hear about Tess's parents, but they are not in this one and her Uncle Spike has moved. So we have some of the usual characters missing and it is felt.
The writing is okay, it just felt like Lippman kept trying to loop in Poe references and it doesn't really work. When you see how Poe is involved I maybe rolled my eyes.
The flow was not good though, the first part of the book really does drag. I honestly didn't think things picked up much until we dealt with a second murder that happens. At this point the book moves a bit faster and it feels as if Tess is rushing to just name the murderer already.
The ending was odd, no other way to call it. I just didn't see much of the point in this. It doesn't help that the so called Poe Toaster stopped being a thing in Baltimore in 2010. It restarted again in 2016 though lost it's flair for the unknown when the Maryland Historical Society picked someone to be the new toaster.
This book throws a mixture of literary classics at you with quite the unusual twist. We go on a murder mystery adventure with Sherlock Holmes, Watson (which sold me on this book right from the start), and Dr. Jekyll's daughter Mary, who stumbles upon Diana the daughter of Hyde, who may or may not be her sister. We are eventually introduced to a slew of monstrous women who are linked to the likes of Frankenstein, Rappaccini and Moreau.
The story is told in their own words, each of the women attempt to write their own parts of the story, which we are constantly reminded by their sporadic, humorous dialog throughout the book. Mostly arguing over inaccuracies and veering completely off topic at times.
This was a fun book and I loved the friendship and the family dynamic between the "monstrous" women. I did however have a few issues with it. Holmes didn't quite feel authentically Sherlock to me. Only once did he wow with his skills of deduction and it was to get a boat ride and not to solve any mysteries.
The story is a bit slow with all the action happening toward the end. The grand climax has them solving the case, however, I was disappointed to finish the book and not have my questions answered. After the grand climax the story continues on, but it's mostly just to set up the next book. Mary even has the opportunity to find out what really happened to her father in the past, but instead she decides she's just not in the mood and will find out later. She lets the opportunity slip away because later doesn't come, at least not in this book!
Despite my frustrations, I did mostly enjoy the book. This is the first of 3 books (I believe) so I'm sure all the answers will come eventually. The girls are off to rescue the daughter of Van Helsing in book 2, but if Mary keeps bringing home every stray monstrosity she can find, she's going to need a bigger house soon!