I made it through Chapter 17 last night. I can't beat Themis Athena's excellent breakdown of the cast and plot thus far, so I'll just add this:
Is it just me, or do these Golden Age mysteries always make London feel like the smallest city ever? I swear. If you need to run into someone you haven't seen in ages, go to London. If you need to run into someone you only saw once from behind, go to London. If you need to run into someone you've never met who is crucial to the plot, go to London.
London: The Biggest Smallest Foggiest City on the Murder Mystery Map
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I snagged a copy of this one when it was a Read It Now on Netgalley. This was a case of it sounded like a good idea at the time. I was looking for something different than what I usually read and this one caught my attention immediately. I'm quite fascinated with Elizabethan period drama but I'm just not getting into this one. I'm not rating because I don't think I've read enough to rate, just enough to know that at the moment it's not for me. I may pick it up again at another time.
Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA.
This book was compared with A Man Called Ove and Love, Actually, a book and a film the blurb refers to as beloved. And that is a big reason I chose this book on NetGalley — because I did love both of them.
Unlike Ove, this story does not feature a loveable character; in fact, only one of the three main characters, featured in different parts, was one I would consider compelling. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the story revolves around a couple who has, for the most part, given up on love, where Ove's story was one of a love lost and mourned. This is a more cynical story, with an edge to it; Ove is a curmudgeon where Henry, despite being described as socially-awkward, has managed to have an affair that inspired a woman to leave her marriage. In Henry's long day's journey into shopping for his wife's Christmas present, I was reminded of Harold Fry, (in a good way) but at the same time I wanted to scream at him to just buy the damn perfume and get back to work. I understand the point wasn't the perfume, but still, it was aggravating given that the premise involved such an easily accomplished task as opposed to a complex journey.
I saw in some reviews outrage that the story contains offensive, inappropriate language regarding mental health, among other things, and I agree — there were several cringe-worthy statements made by the main characters. This is not a matter of being true to a character, the statements were gratuitous and would have been better left unexpressed.
I would guess that the relatively small number of reviews I've seen has as much to do with that last point as it does the poor comparisons in the blurb — perhaps aligning with something like Shopgirl or Little Children, both of which sprang to my mind while reading, would have helped. Aside from the poor choice of certain lines of dialogue, the book still would have appealed to me, but my expectations would have been very different.
That was one hell of a ride!
I liken this series to working similar as a season of tv. This is a complete arc and can be read on its own, with a beginning, middle and end. There is room left though for more stories to be told, and if the second series Ms. Hawk is working on is anything like this one, I'll be eager to read it. But I don't know if I can wait months in between books, and she's only halfway through the next series. Dilemma!
I'd sworn off vampire books way back in high school when I tired of Anne Rice, and I really haven't read very many at all since then where the vamps were front and center. There's the Dresden Files, and now this, and both that series and this one do some really refreshing things with their version of vamps. (I guess the Kate Daniels series does too but that whole series was bordering on corn with a hefty side of cheese. ... Cheesy popcorn? Yeah, I think that fits. Starts off promising but you just can't finish the whole bag.) Here, the "vamp" in question only has the blood drinking to liken it to common vamp lore, and even that isn't used in the usual way, so I really enjoyed how everything was changed up and made its own thing. Also, no sparkling. No sparkling is always key to a good vamp story. :D I'm not going to rush and start reading more vamp-centric stories after this, mind you. I really am done with that genre, but I'll make an exception for this series.
I did get rather bored with the sex scenes. Maybe reading these one at a time as they came out, they might not have seemed as numerous. But reading the bundle, one story after another, I just started finding the sex scenes tedious halfway through, and by this one I was skipping them to get back to the plot.
Another thing that got repetitive was how Ms. Hawk reiterated basic information - characters' appearances, basic background info, etc - in each book, I guess so those who decided to come in halfway through wouldn't be lost. It started to drag things out that didn't need to be dragged out. Thankfully, she did keep these bits to the bare minimum, but even those bits I started skimming/skipping. And what is her obsession with tigers? No, stahp!
Once again, Ms. Hawk shows her flare for action as the team figures out the big conspiracy afoot and all the plot threads come together in one epic climax. This is one of those stories I would love to see on the big screen. There's even a new development with J/C/G that opens up all sorts of possibilities for the next series. And then there's Sean, who inspires various complicated feelings. He's easily the most interesting character here and has the most potential to really grow in the next installment.