Review: The Royal Ghost

29501467The Royal Ghost by Linda Stratmann

It’s 1871 in Brighton and a scandalous account by 2 sisters claiming to have seen Prince George IV and his paramour In flagrante delicto at The Pavilion has shocked and upset many of the town’s citizens. Mina becomes aware that the account may be plagiarized, and begins to look into the matter. When Arthur Wallace Hope, comes to town ostensibly to promote a fund to find Dr. Livingstone in Africa, many of the townspeople are enamored by the charismatic Viscount. Mina suspects Hope’s intentions are not as benign as he would like her to believe. As she investigates both matters further, Mina finds that nothing is as it seems.

I haven’t read the first book in this series, but I have read one of the author’s other books (The Secret Poisoner, and I definitely recommend it!) and I really liked the writing style. I think what I enjoyed most about the book was the Victorian world the author has created, it’s evident how thoroughly the book was researched and the actions and reactions of the characters felt very realistic and vivid. I loved all the descriptions of the conjurors’ tricks, I would’ve loved to have seen that through Mina’s eyes. I had a real giggle at all the women who were scandalized by the thought of a dirty book and yet most of them had already read it, it was a testament to the hypocrisy of the Victorians and their attitudes towards sex, some of which still pervade today. There’s a lot about the topic of Spiritualism, and how the Victorian fascination with death and the afterlife led to charlatans and con artists taking advantage of those beliefs.

The Royal Ghost had a great plot that kept me guessing. I enjoyed watching Mina unravel the mystery behind An Encounter, and I was really surprised at the reveal at the end. While the riveting plot kept me turning pages, the great characters made it truly enjoyable. Mina is an intriguing heroine, with a body crippled by scoliosis that belies her sharp mind, quick wit and iron will. I loved this quote:

Rose, who was both general maidservant and personal maid to Louisa, had, despite the fact that heavy work of the house was assigned to a charlady, a great deal to complain about, but she did so wordlessly, at great volume.

It’s no surprise that she is underestimated, and it’s satisfying when she rises to the challenge. Arthur Wallace Hope makes an interesting foe; wholly fallible, it’s not difficult to understand his misguided enthusiasm in defending Spiritualism, and his zeal makes it easy to love-to-hate him. Mina’s tight-knit group of collaborators -brother Richard, Richard’s paramour, Nellie, and Dr. Hamid and his sister Anna – round out a great cast of characters.

This book can be read as a standalone -but- some of the plot threads in this book are a continuation of the previous book. Although the many references did not hamper my understanding of this book, I do feel that I would’ve gotten more out of this book if I had the context that the first book would’ve provided.

Overall, The Royal Ghost is an outstanding historical mystery, true to the era and a fascinating tour through Victorian times. This will appeal to mystery fans who enjoy a gas-light atmosphere and an intriguing Victorian plot.

The Secret Ghost will be released January 01, 2017.  Pre-order your copy at Amazon  | Barnes & Noble

Thank you to The History Press and Netgalley for an advance copy of The Royal Ghost. This review is my honest opinion.

Series: Mina Scarletti #2
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: The History Press
Publication Date: Jan 01, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9780750966290
ASIN: B01JTE6U92
Genre: Mystery, Historical
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Death Comes to the Fair

29770003Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

I’ve enjoyed this historical mystery series from the start, and each book is better than the last. In Death Comes to the Fair, Robert is impatiently awaiting his wedding to Miss Lucy. Acting as a judge at the harvest fair’s vegetable contest, Robert awards most of the prizes to Ezekial Thurrock, angering many villagers. When Thurrock is later found dead, Lucy begins to suspect that his death wasn’t an accident. Was he killed by an angry villager? Or is his death connected to a decades old feud?

The suspenseful plot was enjoyable and tricky; there’s a whole village of suspects, including the victim’s brother, whose claims against the Kurland land and the story behind it were a great subplot. The plot unwound steadily up to an action packed ending, where Lucy proves herself a resourceful and stubborn woman, and I look forward to watching how Robert and Lucy spar once married – and their future investigations!

This book can be read as a standalone, or as an entry into the series, but I definitely recommend starting from the beginning, as there are some plot threads that run through the books.

Overall, Death Comes to the Fair is an excellent historical mystery that I definitely recommend to fans of historical and/or regency era mysteries.

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for providing an advance copy of the book in return for my honest review

Death Comes to the Fair will be released November 29, 2016.  Pre-order your copy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Series: Kurland St. Mary #4
Rating:★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: Nov. 29, 2016
Language: English
Format: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9781496702043
ASIN: B01CMGS5QA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Dead Man’s Shadow

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Dead Man’s Shadow by Anne Wilkinson

In 1890, a new church is being erected in Stoke Newington, headed by a charismatic preacher named Tristan King whose congregation is at odds with the C of E teachings. Despite the disapproval of many of the townspeople, King’s church manages to attract a following, including a young woman desperate to escape her controlling half-brother.

In the present day, Alex’s daughter just bought a new house, and Alex offers to help with the renovations. When an old floorboard is pulled up to reveal an old box containing papers related to an old church, Alex can’t help but find out more about them. Not long after, old bones are found nearby at a construction site. Alex’s investigating leads her to an unbalanced woman trying to prove ownership of King’s church. Soon, Alex finds herself tied up in past events and current mysteries, trying to put all the pieces together.

While I enjoyed the book, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I thought the historical part of the mystery dragged the book down, most of it was pretty predictable and I found myself flipping through much of those chapters. While it was interesting, it went on too long. If pared down to be less wordy, and the modern day plot beefed up a little more, this would’ve been a 5 star book.

The present day plot about Jane and ownership of the church fizzled out with an anti-climactic whimper and I was left wondering why it was a part of the story, it was almost like an afterthought.

I did enjoy the genealogical part of the mystery; it was interesting to see Alex connect the dots. Genealogy is a hobby of mine and I love those aha! moments when you finally find that missing link in a family tree.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing and the premise was interesting but I just didn’t connect with the story at all.

Dead Man’s Shadow is available for Kindle on Amazon

Thank you to Endeavor Press and Netgalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

Series: Mrs Stonier Mystery #2
Rating: ★★★✰✰ 3 stars
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Publication Date: Sept. 20, 2016
Language: English
Genre: Mystery
Formats:
Kindle
ASIN: B01M0UMJUP
ISBN-13: 9781539045557
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)