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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-20 16:06
The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte and Thomas Pitt #1) - Anne Perry
The Cater Street Hangman - Anne Perry

I'm still here! We've had a crazy few months at my place. I've had three sets of tonsils removed from various people in as many months. The two five year olds weren't so bad. The 33 year old? That was a special kind of fun. Seriously, the adult caregiver in charge should get drugs too. And I still have that full-time job thing that requires my attention. Unfortunately for me, the 33 year old from my house who just had surgery is also the head of the department I work in. Apparently since we share a mortgage, children, and weddings rings I get to do all of his work on top of my own work. I'm not really sure I get paid enough for that. Actually, I'm 100% positive I don't get paid enough for that. 


I have read books since I last reviewed. I think. I'm pretty sure I have. Maybe not. I don't really know. I'm not really even sure what day it is. 


My latest task for Historical Mystery Clue was to read a book with a black cover. I bought this book nearly two years ago for my Kindle when it was 99 cents. The goal was to read it when I bought it. The book came fairly highly recommended by people with similar tastes to my own. This book is also on The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List's Classic Historical Mysteries list. To me that implies it is a must read for fans of that particular genre. The other two books on the classics list are A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters and The Crocodile in the Sandbanks by Elizabeth Peters. I have now read all three classics. I was not impressed with any of them. I haven't even continued with the series in the case of the later two. 


So what was my problem with the book? It wasn't an overly complex book. I could have easily polished it off in a day if I had the time or the desire. The fact of the matter is, I didn't have the desire. Early on I found myself annoyed with the sisters. It was like Mean Girls meets Victorian London. The bickering and the nit-picking was almost more than I could take. I had the mystery figured out pretty early on. What kept me reading was the need to know if I was right. I was right. However, to find out I was right, I had to deal with pages and pages of sisters bickering, grandma bickering, and mom fighting with the mother-in-law. It was tedious. 


Based on how the book ended, I'm going to guess there's less of sister bickering in the coming books. Hoping this is true, I'm going to pick up the second book in the series to see if this series really does live up to the hype. 

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review 2018-03-17 16:10
The Iron Water
The Iron Water: A Victorian Police Procedural - Chris Nickson

What a great mystery! Starting with a submerged body bobbing to the surface after a torpedo demonstration it winds its way through 1890s Leeds, with two dead men, rival gangs, and bent coppers, all leading up to a surprising and exciting ending. A taut and well-crafted plot handily kept the tension and suspense going through the whole story and I read most of it in one evening, I just couldn't put it down! The colorful and descriptive Victorian world created by the author drew me in easily, and the wonderful characters, from the gangsters to the dedicated coppers to Harper's Suffragette wife, Annabelle, they really brought the book to life. And the ending! Whooo, never saw that coming! An excellent historical mystery from start to finish.

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review 2018-03-05 00:07
Victorian girl competes to get into forensic pathology academy in Dracula's castle. What could go wrong?
Hunting Prince Dracula - Kerri Maniscalco

This was an engaging historical romance read with mystery/thriller/horror elements depending on how jumpy you are when it comes to murder, vampire bats & huge spiders. (Man, that one scene took it to 110% horror mode for me!!)


It's not the book's fault, but I was super sad it didn't go into training montage/Harry Potter mode and double down on the competition to get into the bizarro forensic pathologist teens training academy in Dracula's creepy castle. Especially with the super-feminist Victorian girl trying to play on the same field as the boys, I wanted more of her competing for equal footing and to be recognized. Instead, the murder mystery element stepped up into centrefield. Which, it was cool the way they went in a different direction with the ending, I guess, and there were some truly unexpected twists, so props for that.


I think I prefer a little closer adherence to period-accurate perspectives in my historical fiction, to be honest. This leans more into an exciting, acceptable-to-2018-standards adventure territory. And the author had notes at the end pointing out which elements were research-based, and which were liberties taken for story purposes. But the feminist MC, although feminism did exist at the time, felt like she took things too far and in an inauthentic direction. To me, it felt preachy and performative, like if it were a film, she'd turn to the camera and make her argument, and then go back to playing her part. (Laurie R. King & Cat Winters do a spectacular job of integrating thoughtful feminist narratives in a period-specific narrative, if you want to read that btw.) But then again, it's not rare for teens to lack subtlety . . .


So in summary, so far this series isn't a personal favourite, but it is perfectly well done YA historical romance and makes for an entertaining read. Love the girl-forensic-pathologist angle, it's fun how historical characters who've become nearly fictional get woven in, and there's some very clever plotting going on. Props for accurate historical details and research at many points too. The love interest has an interestingly Holmesian character, and supporting cast are well defined and distinctive. 3.5 stars for a generally good read.

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review 2018-03-04 14:56
Murder at the Mansion
Murder at the Mansion: A Victorian Village Mystery (Victorian Village Mysteries) - Sheila Connolly

I’m a sucker for small town mysteries and when you have a mysterious mansion at the center of it all, well, you’ve got my attention. And this was an enjoyable read, with a likable main character in Kate; she’s a level-headed and unflappable sleuth and romantic interest Josh made for a good sidekick and added a sprinkle of romance. I liked the plot, surrounding a remarkably well-preserved mansion built a century ago by the mysterious Henry Barton and a very unlikable local woman who is found dead on the front steps. The intrigue kept me turning pages, although I feel like the endless rehashing that happened in every chapter killed the pace a little; with a bit of editing, this book would be a lean, mean intrigue machine. As it is, I’m completely sucked into the whole Henry Barton mystery, so I will be back for the second book and can’t wait to watch Kate’s vision for the town evolve into a reality.

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review 2018-03-02 05:12
A feminist forensic pathology trainee takes on Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco

Enjoyable historical fiction read with elements of mystery/thriller/horror depending on how you feel about all the dead bodies, and a strong teen romance bent. Good attention paid to historical detail in the world-building, but a very modern teen voice and attitude, so if you're a stickler for period-appropriate tone, that might bug you. I wouldn't have minded a touch more paranormal/fantasy, and, having just started in on the sequel, I'm enjoying the character dynamics noticeably more as they become more established, so if this first one doesn't grab you, you might want to hang in there for book 2. Pretty good unexpected twists in the wrap up too - fun when the book marketing itself sets you up for it.

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