Review: The Serpent and the Scorpion by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Description (from cover):

‘It’s nearly two years since her father’s death and Ursula Marlow is embroiled in personal and professional struggles. Her relationship with Lord Wrotham has cooled since she rejected his marriage proposal and she continues to fly in the face of society’s conventions as to the appropriate role of a woman in Edwardian England. Now she is besieged on all fronts as she struggles to succeed as an independent businesswoman, despite financial difficulties, labor unrest and arson attacks on her mills and factories.
While on a business trip to Egypt, Ursula witnesses a friend’s murder in Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar, and embarks on her own investigation, convinced the Egyptian police and Scotland Yard are mistaken in assuming the death was politically motivated.
Days later a young woman dies in a fire in one of Ursula’s factories in England and Ursula returns to discover the woman was already dead before the fire started. Driven by her need for justice and the dictates of her conscience, Ursula must rely on her own powers of detection and a growing interest in cryptography to discover a possible connection between the deaths, the return of her Bolshevik ex-lover and disturbing events in the Middle East.’

My thoughts:

This book was immensely better than the first one in this series. I enjoyed this one a lot. The author seemed to stepped up her game when writing this one. This one embroils the reader in political and emotional turmoil. This is a murder steeped high in politics and greed. I have to say that this one was a hard one to put down. Ursula character goes through a dramatic change from the first book to this one. She is more independent, more level headed and more mature. I have to say that this Ursula beats the other Ursula hands down. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid to fight tooth and nail for it.
I do wish that this book was set more in Egypt. The author did a fantastic job of laying the scenery when Ursula was in Egypt and I would have loved to see everything play out in the Middle East instead of in England. The author was able to portray the exotic and curious being that Egypt is and it made me want more. Of course, I love a book set in England, but I think the author did a phenomenal job and would love to see a book set fully somewhere full of intrigue.  This book is a complete 180 from the first book and it has become a series that I am fully engaged and interested in.
Ursula has to make some tough decisions in this one, but it shows the reader the dramatic change from spoiled heiress to a businesswoman in her own right. This was a fantastic read that was well worth the money I spent on the Kindle edition. If you haven’t discovered this gem of a series, I encourage you to find it if you love history and a plucky main character.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  The Serpent and the Scorpion
Author:  Clare Langley-Hawthorne
Series:  Ursula Marlow Mystery #2
Publisher:  Penguin Books
Publication Date:  September 30, 2008
Pages:  304
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

One thought on “Review: The Serpent and the Scorpion by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

  1. I have this and the first in the series sitting on my long (very long) TBR pile. It sounds like I definitely should start with the first one–if for no other reason than that the second will be even better. thanks for reviewing this one!


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