Review: The Loyal Friend by A.A. Chaudhuri

Description (from cover): “She has your back. And may stab you in it.

Wealthy, pampered Susan is living the perfect life in leafy Kingston. She’ll never let anyone see the darkness she’s concealing behind the diamonds and rose.

Grace is new to the group, seemingly the perfect wife and mum. Yet no one knows the truth of what’s happening behind closed doors.

Loner Natalie hides the pain of her childhood behind a carefully ordered life. But how long can the past stay hidden?

Three unlikely friends, brought together for a weekly class run by beautiful, friendly instructor Jade.

But when Jade goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the group starts to unravel. And as their darkest secrets come to light, it seems that no one can be trusted. Even their closest friends…

A heart-in-your-mouth thriller that builds twist after twist, culminating in an unforgettable ending. This shocking, tense and gripping read will delight fans of T.M. Logan, B.A. Paris and Big Little Lies.”

My Thoughts:

It seems that I have been on a more psychological thriller kick here lately with my reading choices. I picked this up for review on NetGalley because it looked so good and I love a good mystery with a lot of suspects and this one seemed a perfect fit. In this book, we follow four friends, Natalie, Susan and Grace who all attend Jade’s fitness class. When Jade suddenly goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Natalie, Susan and Grace who all have secrets of their own come under suspicion during the investigation. It seems that Natalie, Grace, Susan and Jade all have secrets from their pasts that could come back to haunt them and put them under the direct spotlight of the police.

I liked this book. It kept my attention and even though I felt I predicted some of the plot twists in advance, it was still a good read. This story is told from each of the characters’ points of view, including Jade who is missing. We see glimpses of their pasts and their current lives come through, however there is not enough information to put everything together. It seemed that just when I felt like I had a handle on who might be the culprit, something would make me suspect another character and switch the storyline in a completely opposite direction. The ending was totally unexpected and fantastically well-done from a mystery standpoint.

This is the type of book where you don’t immediately connect with any of the characters. They all seem to be unlikeable in their own ways, but you spend the majority of the book trying to piece together their pasts and whether it plays into the current situation. It seems everyone has their own secrets and the author toys with the reader because you really don’t want to like them, but you can’t help but feel for them at the same time. If you like a good story told from several points of view with a lot of twists and turns, then this is one you should put on your reading list.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: A.A. Chaudhuri

Series: N/A

Publisher: Hera

Publication Date: June 23, 2022

Pages: 341

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Bridesmaids by Victoria Jenkins

Description (from cover): “Holly is getting married, but not before a celebration weekend with her closest friends. After a night of arguments, a body is found floating in the swimming pool of their secluded cottage. Holly must fact up to the truth–one of her bridesmaids is a killer, but which one?

New beginnings. Old rivalries.

Best friends. Bad blood.

Five bridesmaids. One body.

Fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and The Wife Between Us will love this pulse-racing psychological thriller. Once you start reading, you will not be able to stop!”

My Thoughts:

Holly is going on her “hen” weekend for her upcoming wedding. Five of her friends will be joining her at a secluded cottage with all of the latest amenities to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. Holly is excited to be spending some time away from wedding planning to catch up with her friends. What she doesn’t realize is that every single one of her friends has a secret and it appears that all the secrets will come out this weekend. Friends will become enemies, lies that have been covered for years will make their way to the surface and at the end of the weekend someone will be dead. So much for a relaxing and fun weekend.

This book is told through the narratives of the different characters involved in the story. I really enjoyed how the author used each of the characters and their own secrets to evolve this story. It seems everyone is not who they would appear to be and there were a lot of exciting revelations throughout this book. This was a fun read and while a little overwhelming at times trying to keep up with everyone and their secrets, I found it to be a quick and enjoyable mystery read. I was left wondering who was going to end up dead until the very end and it was a little shocking as I totally did not see that coming.

Overall, this was a great psychological murder mystery where the reader is trying to figure out the mystery when every single character has the motive and opportunity for murder. The ending wasn’t wrapped up in a tidy little bow, but such is life and the author did a great job of making the ending realistic based on the story. I really connected with a few of characters while reading this book, but by the end I really didn’t like any of them, but that was the clear intention of the author. This book really makes you think about whether you really know the people you are friends with and what secrets are they keeping in the dark?

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Victoria Jenkins

Series: N/A

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 23, 2022

Pages: 275

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Description (from cover): “In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning–it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.”

My Thoughts:

The first thoughts that come to my mind as I write the review for this novel, is “WOW! What a great read!” I was utterly shocked at how much this book grabbed my attention and did not let go until the very end. I read this book in one day because I simply could not put it down. The twists and turns had me literally gasping aloud and on the edge of my seat. This book is a murder mystery with many winding plot twists. All the reader knows is that one of the main characters is a murderer and they all have their own reasons for committing the crime. The reader is left guessing literally until the very last pages of this book. Let me say that I did not see the ending coming even though the author tells us at the very beginning that one of the main characters is the murderer.

This book will stay with me for a while. I read a lot of mysteries. Pretty much every book I read is a mystery, so for me to say that this book took me by surprise, it is a big deal. Gentill is a remarkable writer who engages her readers from the very first page until the very last page. The setup of this book is a little different and it is hard to describe for me in words, but I would suggest that the reader just roll with it and take it for what it is. You will not be disappointed. Basically, there are two different stories in this novel that overlap slightly but together create a mystery masterpiece.

Typically in my reviews, I outline the storyline of the book, but with this one it just wouldn’t feel right for me to detail the story on this blog. I feel like I would be doing the book an injustice and might give away some of the twists and turns that really make this book truly unique. All I can say is when this book is released in June of this year, run and get your hands on this one as it was phenomenal in every single way. I have a feeling this book will be a huge hit and everyone will be talking about it. I am absolutely honored I had the chance to preview it and read it early. From a chronic mystery reader, I give this book a huge standing ovation and cannot wait to see what the author writes next.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Sulari Gentill

Series: N/A

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Pages: 292

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Description (from cover): “Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswold village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for…the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village–from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect…drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia–newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper–despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wife, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?”

My Thoughts:

This book really reminds me of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. This book takes place in the Cotswolds just like Agatha Raisin and well the Cotswolds seems to be such a lovely place. I have always wanted to visit there and I love it when I can read a mystery that is set in such an idyllic place. I adore the small English village murder mystery as they seem so relatable for some reason. The small town where everyone knows their neighbors and gossip runs abound seem to always get my attention. In this book, newly single Julia Bird has left London to start a new life in Berrywick after retirement. Not much information is given about Julia’s mysterious past and why she left her job as a social worker, but I am hoping that the author expands a little on this back story in the upcoming books in this series. There seems to be a hint of a story there, but the author decided not to give too much away in this book.

Julia is new to Berrywick and quickly sets about exploring her new village. She meets some new friends and adopts a Labrador puppy. She befriends the local contractor and sets about tearing down an old shed on her property to build a chicken coop. During this process, a body is found and it appears that the body has been there for many years. No one in the town remembers anyone missing and they have no clue who could have been murdered. Julia is determined to find out who the body belongs to and why they were buried under a shed on her own property. When Julia stumbles across two more bodies during her investigation, she becomes concerned that her new idyllic village might not be as peaceful as she hoped.

I really enjoyed reading this book and thought that the author did a great job of setting the scene of a small village and village life. I felt the ending was a little rushed, but overall this was a great quick read and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it prior to the publication date. If you love Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders, Hamish Macbeth, and like series, this is probably a new series you do not want to miss. Julia’s character is hard not to like and I am curious to see what trouble she finds herself in moving forward with the series and how her new life in Berrywick plays out.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Katie Gayle

Series: Julia Bird Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Pages: 262

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Traitor in the Ice by K. J. Maitland

Description (from cover): “Winter, 1607. A man is struck down in the grounds of Battle Abbey, Sussex. Before dawn breaks, he is dead.

Home to the Montagues, Battle has caught the paranoid eye of King James. The Catholic household is rumoured to shelter those loyal to the Pope, disguising them as servants within the abbey walls. And the last man sent to expose them was silenced before his report could reach London.

Daniel Pursglove is summoned to infiltrate Battle and find proof of treachery. He soon discovers that nearly everyone at the abbey has something to hide–for deeds far more dangerous than religious dissent. But one lone figure he senses only in the shadows, carefully concealed from the world. Could the notorious traitor Spero Pettingar finally be close at hand?

As more bodies are unearthed, Daniel determines to catch the culprit. But how do you unmask a killer when nobody is who they seem?

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Daniel Pursglove mystery series by K. J. Maitland. I reviewed the first book, The Drowned City, on this blog previously. The problems I had with that book are prevalent in this book as well. The books in this series tend to be long, very descriptive and a little chaotic at times with the switching back and forth between storylines. I will say that I did enjoy this book more than the first book as it was easier to read for me this go around. Nonetheless, the ending left me scratching my head a little bit trying to figure out all of the storylines and what exactly happened. I still am not quite sure.

In this book, we see the return of Daniel Pursglove who has been sent to Battle Abbey to act as a spy. He is told to make himself a part of the household and find out if there are priests being hidden there and whether the residents are attending Mass instead of the required Protestant services. Pursglove quickly avails himself to the household and soon finds himself an integral part of the household. In the small town surrounding the Abbey, there is a creature that has been wreaking havoc on the town at night. Animals are missing or killed, strange noises and fear has been walking the streets at night and the villagers are up in arms.

In the middle of the drama at the Abbey and the hysteria of the small town, Pursglove soon finds himself embroiled in more mysteries than he can handle and he is not sure which one is more dangerous. He has to constantly be on his toes as everyone is not who they seem and there is a murderer lurking in the shadows. This book was a better read than the first one, however I struggled to understand what was happening at times and I felt the ending didn’t really conclude the mysteries.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: K. J. Maitland

Series: Daniel Pursglove Mystery #2

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication Date: March 31, 2022

Pages: 461

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Countdown to a Killing by Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Description (from cover): “London, Sicily, Huddersfield 2016-2017: Wen Li is a deeply kind and sensitive twenty-nine-year old British-Chinese woman who suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which manifests itself in an incessant, overwhelming fear that she might have murderous impulses. Unlucky in love and emotionally scarred, Wen falls for colleague, Lomax Clipper, a tremendously frustrated and delusional Englishman. He’s in love with a Sicilian young woman he met while working in Italy, but he and Wen do share a mutual loathing of their boss, Julian Ponsonby. Julian’s struggling too–with a toxic relationship and his father’s refusal to accept his sexuality. On his return to Sicily, via a sabbatical, Lomax befriends Fifi de Angelis, a vulnerable Sicilian man with restricted growth who has been ostracised by his family.

An original concept, this is an innovative novel in literary fiction told through interwoven correspondence, emails and WhatsApp messages, with the suspense around an impending murder steadily building. Countdown to a Killing is a deep exploration of multiple perspectives and points of view of individuals who are inextricably bound. The key themes of love, sexuality, ethnicity, mental health and acceptance are sensitively explored in a unique linear year multi-layered and metafictional narrative. Packed with humour, heartache and a cast of expertly-crafted characters, this contemporary take on the epistolary novel will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.”

My Thoughts:

Epistolary novels are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I think it is a unique way to tell a story and have the readers make their own determination about the events taking place in the story and about the characters themselves. In this book, the main characters are Wen Li and Lomax Clipper. They are both obsessive about things in their own ways. Wen has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Lomax is obsessed with writing his novel at any cost. They are coworkers and friends and the story mainly covers their correspondence to each other and to other people. There are some other minor characters that show up in this book and we get to learn about them through their own correspondence, but mostly the story is focused on Wen and Lomax’s lives.

The author did a great job of weaving everything together. There were only two issues I had with this book. The first was the “editor’s” comments throughout the book to remind the reader that a murder was going to take place during the story. It felt repetitive and a little unnecessary to be overly reminded throughout the story. Having this happen once would have been sufficient enough to get the point across, but for some reason the author felt it wasn’t enough. The second issue that I had with this book is that it suddenly ends after the “murder” occurs. The murder happens and then the story ends. Not much is resolved afterwards and I felt like there could have been a little more of a conclusion as there was so much build up to the actual murder.

Overall, this book was fun to read and it did keep me guessing as how everything would play out with the impending murder. I really enjoyed learning about Lomax and Wen’s lives and how they handled everything with their relationships, work and families. I highly recommend this book to others and encourage others to seek this one out if you are looking for a different take on a murder mystery. This is MacAulay’s second novel and for it being only the second book he has written, this was a good read and one that I had a lot of fun reading.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Series: N/A

Publisher: RedDoor Press

Publication Date: May 26, 2022

Pages: 352

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives by Rick Bleiweiss

Description (from cover): “The year is 1910, and in the small and seemingly sleepy English municipality of Haxford, there’s a new chief police inspector. At first, the dapper and unflappable Pignon Scorbion strikes something of an odd figure among the locals, who don’t see a need for such an exacting investigator. But it isn’t long before Haxford finds itself very much in need of a detective.

Luckily, Scorbion and the local barber are old acquaintances, and the barbershop employs a cast of memorable characters who–together with an aspiring young ace reporter for the local Morning News–are nothing less than enthralled by the enigmatic new chief police inspector.

Investigating a trio of crimes whose origins span three continents and half a century, Pignon Scorbion and his “tonsorial sleuths” interview a parade of interested parties, but with every apparent clue, new surprises come to light. And just as it seems nothing can derail Scorbion’s cool head and almost unerring nose for deduction, in walks Thelma Smith–dazzling, whip-smart, and newly single.

Has Pignon Scorbion finally met his match?

For fans of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, author Rick Bleiweiss’s quirky new detective and ensemble cast of characters set against the backdrop of small-town England in the 1910s will feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new.”

My Thoughts:

I was offered the chance to review this book by the publisher through NetGalley and I jumped at the chance to read it. This is a new series set in 1910 in England in a small town where it seems crime never happens. When a new police inspector, Pignon Scorbion, arrives in town, everyone is surprised by his demeanor and his attention to looking fashionable at all times and his strange name. He is not like their last police inspector and they are suspicious of him and whether he can bring any value to the village. Quickly, however, Pignon Scorbion, shows the small town what he is capable of in regards to solving mysteries and uses his friends at the local barbershop to help him investigate three crimes that have recently occurred in Haxford.

The concept of this book is very good. I am not quite sure why the author decided to have Scorbion conduct all of his investigations in the local barbershop and not the police station, but it is what it is. That really didn’t make a lot of sense to me and while it did bring some added value to the book, it left me a little confused as to why this would have been done. I guess you just have to roll with it. I did like the characters in the book and liked how there were three separate mysteries to solve in this book.

While I was not overly impressed with this book, I did still have a good time reading it. I liked the characters and would read the next book in the series to see if there is some character development. There was a teaser for the second book at the end of this one, but I never read them so I am assuming the next book will be forthcoming in the next year or so. If you like to read mysteries that are short, to the point and are quite whimsical, this might be a book you might want to look into.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Rick Bleiweiss

Series: Pignon Scorbion Mystery #1

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose

Description (from cover): “Opulence. Sex. Betrayal…Sometimes friendship can be deadly.

Meet the women of Buckhead–a place of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she’s been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge…

Crystal has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she’s up against…

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon’s crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book…

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead–and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly.”

My Thoughts:

Wow! What a read! I really enjoyed this book. Think Real Housewives meets Big Little Lies. I couldn’t put this book down. Shannon, Crystal, Karen, Olivia and Jenny are part of the elite squad of Buckhead. Shannon has just gone through a divorce with politician Bryce. Crystal is his new young wife, who is struggling to fit into the high-stakes of society in Buckhead. Karen is a realtor with a highly successful business who is married to an equally successful plastic surgeon, Mark. Olivia is married to Dean and is known as the mean one of the group. She is determined to be on top at no matter what cost. She is manipulative and snarky and the others just put up with her to save face. Jenny is the owner of Glow, the salon that is the hangout for all of the ladies. She has put her salon and her clients first and she is now eager to carve out a personal life of her own.

This story is told through the characters’ own voices. Each chapter is told through a different character and it was fun to see how their own personal lives and secrets affected each other and the story overall. It seems in Buckhead everyone is out to get ahead and they simply don’t care if they step on each other toes to get to the top. The drama that filled these pages was so intense and engaging, that it made it impossible to want to stop reading. I read this book in one day as it was so good. The author did a great job of entwining everyone’s stories and the conclusion was simply shocking. You know going into it someone is going to die clearly from the title of this book, but you have no idea of who is the victim and the circumstances surrounding the murder until the very end.

Thoroughly captivating and engaging, this story was one that left me reeling at the end with all the twists and turns. I cannot say enough good things about this read and I encourage anyone who enjoys a complex mystery to pick this one up. I have previously never heard of this author or any of her books, but after reading this one, I am going to check out her other books and I encourage other readers to do the same. If you pick this one up, you will not be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Jeneva Rose

Series: N/A

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Pages: 354

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Drowned City by K. J. Maitland

Description (from cover): “Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this masterful historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood and Sugar.

1606. England stands divided in the wake of the failed Gunpowder Plot. As a devastating tidal wave sweeps the Bristol Channel, rumours of new treachery reach the King.

In Newgate prison, Daniel Pursglove receives an unexpected–and dangerous–offer. Charles FitzAlan, close confidant of King James, will grant his freedom–if Daniel can infiltrate the underground Catholic network in Bristol and unmask the one conspirator still at large.

Where better to hide a traitor than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel goes to Bristol to investigate, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy–and in pursuit of a killer.”

My Thoughts:

This book is set in the 1600’s in Bristol in an England that is deeply divided between the Protestants and Catholics. King James I is on the throne and this story takes place a year after the Gunpowder Plot was foiled. James is terrified of assassination and sees death in everything and is very superstitious. He is paranoid and determined to prevent any Catholic uprisings in his Protestant England. Daniel Pursglove is in prison and is offered the chance of a pardon if he seeks out a missing conspirator from the Gunpowder Plot.

Rumor has it that the missing man is in Bristol, which has just been devastated by a tidal wave that killed hundreds and destroyed many homes and businesses. Daniel travels from London to Bristol to seek out the missing man and bring him to justice at the cost of his own freedom. If he is successful he won’t have to return to prison and will be a free man; if not, he faces torture and death. Daniel makes connections when he arrives in Bristol and no one is to be trusted.

This book was a long read at 495 pages. At times, I felt the writer used too many descriptive details and could have condensed the story somewhat. Overall this was a good read and a fantastic debut to this new historical mystery series. I loved the setting as it has been quite some time since I have read anything in this time period. The superstitions and the unrest during this time really shows throughout this book and the author did a wonderful job of researching the time period. The book did seem tedious in some areas, but overall, I found this to be a quite engaging read and I am excited to read the next book in this series.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: K. J. Maitland

Series: Daniel Pursglove Mystery #1

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication Date: April 1, 2021

Pages: 495

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Hot Time by W. H. Flint

Description (from cover): “For fans of The Knick, The Alienist, and The Last Days of Night, an entertaining, atmospheric crime thriller set in the Gilded Age.

New York, August 1896. A “hot wave” has settled on the city with no end in sight, leaving tempers short and the streets littered with dead horses felled by the heat. In this presidential election year, the gulf between rich and poor has political passions flaring, while anti-immigrant sentiment has turned virulent. At Police Headquarters, the gruff, politically ambitious commissioner Theodore Roosevelt has been struggling to reform his notoriously corrupt department. Meanwhile, the yellow press is ready to pounce on the peccadilloes of the Four Hundred, the city’s social elite–the better to sell papers with lurid stories and gossip or perhaps profit from a little blackmail on the side. When the body of Town Topics publisher William d’Alton Mann is found at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, any number of his ink-spattered victims may have a motive.

Hot Time is an immensely entertaining, deeply researched, and richly textured historical novel set in a period that reflects our own, with cameos by figures ranging from financier J. P. Morgan to muckraking journalist Jacob Riis. Our guides through New York’s torrid, bustling streets are Otto “Rafe” Raphael from the Lower East Side, one of the first Jewish officers in the heavily Irish force, who finds as many enemies within the department as outside it; Minnie Kelly, the department’s first female stenographer; Theodore Roosevelt himself; and the plucky orphan Dutch, one of the city’s thousands of newsboys, who may have seen too much.”

My Thoughts:

New York in the Gilded Age is an absolute darling time period to read about. The corruption in the city during this time is notorious and even more so in the New York Police Department. Theodore Roosevelt at this time is a police commissioner who has been working diligently to reform the police department and get rid of its corrupt ways. Facing battles from every corner, he is determined to make the police department one that the citizens of New York can respect and trust, which is no easy feat as police officers have been known to take bribes and be involved in crime themselves. Otto “Rafe” Raphael is the first Jewish police officer in a department full of Irish police officers and he is resolved to make a name for himself. When publisher William d’Alton Mann meets with Mr. Roosevelt one evening and is murdered the following day, Rafe is concerned that his mentor and hero may have been involved in the crime. Nevertheless, Rafe is set on figuring out the murder and who may have been involved at any cost.

From the slums of New York to the gilded homes of the Four Hundred, the author takes the reader through New York City in the middle of August 1896 where a “hot wave” has made life unbearable. Horses are dying in the streets, citizens are dying by the hundreds and tempers are easily set off due to the scorching heat with no relief in sight. When Mann’s body is found by the Brooklyn Bridge, Rafe is determined to solve the crime with the help of orphaned newsboy Dutch and no one, even the wealthy and famous, are safe from his suspicions and investigation. In the middle of the tumultuous summer of 1896 and a highly contested presidential election, the author weaves a murder mystery that is thoroughly engaging and highly attentive to details.

This book was a charm to read. The author did a lot of research regarding the main characters and the time period and it really shows throughout this book. Using descriptive details, the author paints a lovely murder mystery set in the middle of one of the worst heat waves in New York City’s history. One can only imagine what it was like for the people who lived during this time and the author does a fantastic job of setting the scene for the reader. I really hope that the author plans to make a series out of this as it was a phenomenal read and the characters were so well-developed and engaging that I hope they make a return in another installment. If you love historical mystery murders, you do not want to miss out on this excellent read by author W. H. Flint.

Overall Rating: 5 stars

Author: W. H. Flint

Series: N/A

Publisher: Arcade Crimewise

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Pages: 245

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.