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.

Review: A Most Efficient Murder by Anthony Slayton

Description (from cover): “When the reclusive Earl of Unsworth’s first party in over a decade is spoiled by murder, his Lordship’s loyal and efficient secretary, Mr. Quayle, must unravel a web of red-herrings and old family secrets before the murderer can strike again…

I do not wish to disturb you, your grace, but there is a body in the garden…

England, 1925. When a strange young women is found murdered on the grounds of Unsworth Castle, the Duke and his family are astounded at first, but quickly become enraged when the police begin asking all sorts of impertinent questions.

And when suspicions dare to fall on one of their own, it is up to Mr. Quayle, Lord Unsworth’s exceedingly efficient secretary, to find the true culprit and save the House of Unsworth from scandal and ruin.

My Thoughts:

There is nothing like a British estate murder mystery. For some reason, the British have really nailed this concept like no other and I always find myself drawn to books like this. In this book Lord Unsworth is hosting a party, his first in ten years, in order to celebrate his collection of familial artefacts and to announce his heir. Not being a very social person, this is a major feat for him and he has invited family and friends from far and wide to attend this party. When a guest turns up murdered in the estate’s gardens and no one knows who the young woman is, it appears that sinister things are afoot. Lord Unsworth asks his secretary, Mr. Quayle, to assist the police in the murder investigation on behalf of the family. Mr. Quayle soon finds himself embroiled in the middle of accusations and trying to keep the family’s good name out of the society scandal columns.

I really enjoyed reading this book as I always love a murder mystery set in a grand English house where society comes into play and there are a onslaught of suspects. The author did not disappoint in this regard as there were plenty of suspects and motives for the murder and everyone appears to have secrets. Who exactly wanted this unknown woman dead and who had the means, motive and opportunity to dispose of her body in the estate’s gardens? These are the questions that Mr. Quayle must find out and with the help of the police and their own investigations, Mr. Quayle is determined to find out the solution to the mystery at any and all costs, even if it means losing his job.

It is my understanding that this is the first book in the Mr. Quayle murder mystery series, however, at the end of the book, there was a link to a free copy of a previous publication featuring Mr. Quayle. That book is titled A Quite Deadly Affair and it predates this novel. I am not sure why that book is not considered the first in this series and I have not yet had a chance to read it, but it apparently provides Mr. Quayle’s background as to how he ended up working for Lord Unsworth. I am not sure if it is a full novel or a novella, but I am curious to see if anyone else knows. Nevertheless, this book was a delightful read and I will certainly be looking more from this author in the future. Also, this book is currently listed for preorder at $3.99 for a kindle e-book on Amazon if you want to snag a copy.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Anthony Slayton

Series: Mr. Quayle Mystery #1

Publisher: N/A

Publication Date: April 3, 2022

Pages: 309

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: The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood

Description (from cover): “The elegant Miss Phryne Fisher returns in this scintillating collection, featuring four new stories.

The Honourable Phryne Fisher–she of the Lulu bob, cupid’s bow lips, diamante garters, and pearl-handled pistol–is the 1920’s most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.

Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun, and compulsively readable stories. Whether sniffing out the whereabouts of a priceless pilfered book, an heirloom locket, or a missing eight-year-old girl, Miss Fisher proves herself move than equal to the task–and always fashionably attired. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr. Butler, and all of Phryne’s friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne’s wit and logic.”

My Thoughts:

I was so happy to learn that there was a new Phryne Fisher mystery out and when I had the chance to request an advance reader copy through Netgalley, I didn’t even read the description, just clicked that I wanted to read it. To my disappointment, this is not a new book in the series, but a collection of short stories featuring our favorite detective Phryne Fisher. Apparently, there was a collection of short stories published previously by Greenwood and this book features those same stories, with some edits, and four new ones. While not exactly what I was hoping for, this story collection was fun to read nonetheless.

Phryne Fisher’s murder mysteries have become famous in their own right. The novels in the series are widely acclaimed and there is a television show, a movie and new there is even an a spin-off television show based all on Miss Fisher’s characters. A collection of short stories was well received by this reader, however, some of the stories were a little short and did not explain how Phryne reached her conclusions. I think any book featuring Phryne Fisher is a good read, but I was disappointed that this was not a new novel in the series.

I did like that the stories were short and I could read one when I had a few minutes at lunch or when I had some down time. The stories did feature some of the other beloved characters that we have come to love throughout the series, but overall there wasn’t a lot of substance to the stories that really contribute to the series as a whole. The author does write an introduction at the beginning of this collection, which outlines how she came up with the idea of Phryne Fisher as a character and for the novels in the series. Unfortunately, that probably was one of the more interesting parts of this collection.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Kerry Greenwood

Series: Phryne Fisher Short Story Collection

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Pages: 272

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: Death with a Double Edge by Anne Perry

Description (from cover): “When junior barrister Daniel Pitt is summoned to the scene of a murder in the London district known as Mile End, he knows only that the victim is a senior barrister from the same firm. To Daniel’s relief, it is not his close friend Toby Kitteridge, but the question remains: What was this respected colleague doing in such a rough part of the city? The firm’s head, Marcus fford Croft, may know more than he admits, but fford Croft’s memory is not what it used to be, and his daughter Miriam–Daniel’s sometime sidekick–isn’t in the country to offer her usual help. And so Daniel and Toby must investigate on their own, lest the police uncover something that may cast a suspicious light on the firm.

Their inquiries in Mile End lead them to a local brothel and to an opium den, but also–unexpectedly–to a wealthy shipbuilder crucial to Britain’s effort to build up its fleet, which may soon face the fearsome naval might of Germany. Daniel finds his path blocked by officials at every turn, his investigation so unwelcome that even his father, Special Branch head Thomas Pitt, receives a chilling warning from a powerful source. Suddenly, not just Daniel but his whole family–including his beloved mother, Charlotte–is in danger. Will Daniel’s devotion to justice be the undoing of his entire life, and endanger Britain’s defense at sea? As ever, the fates of family and history are inextricably intertwined in this spellbinder from Anne Perry.”

My Thoughts:

See my previous reviews of books #2 Triple Jeopardy and #3 One Fatal Flaw in this series.

This book is the fourth installment in Perry’s Daniel Pitt series and while the previous book in this series One Fatal Flaw was a little lackluster, this book really brings the series back to where it was previously. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have to say that this is one of my favorites in the series so far. There was a lot of character development in this book and it provides a future for the characters. Also, appearances by Thomas and Charlotte Pitt play heavily in this book. The author has chosen to have them only appear in tiny bits in previous installments, and it was nice to have them play a more active role in this book.

Daniel Pitt is shocked when he is asked by the police to identify a body in Mile End, a dubious neighborhood known for its brothels, opium dens and seedy characters. He identifies the body as one of his colleagues at his law firm and due to the personal connection, he feels that he must try to discover why his colleague was murdered in such a violent manner. Nothing make sense: Was he murdered due to his previous legal cases, or was it much more personal? Using his investigative skills, Daniel enlists other colleagues, friends and his parents to assist him in this investigation. As more murders occur, Daniel feels he is set on a hopeless course for justice.

As I stated previously, this was probably one of my favorite books in this series. I found that it was well-written, the plot was very engaging and it was hard to put down. Twists and turns in the plot kept this reader very well entertained throughout this book. The only issue I had with this book was that I felt the ending was a little rushed and the author could have taken a little more time in concluding the storyline. Other than that, I would say that this was a great read and installment in a series that I am coming to love. I was lucky to receive the next book in this series, Three Debts Paid, which is due to be released in April of this year, as an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher. Make sure you stay tuned for that review in the next couple of weeks.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Anne Perry

Series: Daniel Pitt Mystery #4

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

Pages: 296

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Body in the Garden by Katharine Schellman

Description (from cover): “London 1814. Though newly-widowed Lily Adler is returning to a society that frowns on independent women, she is determined to create a meaningful life for herself even without a husband. She’s no stranger to the glittering world of London’s upper crust. At a ball thrown by her oldest friend, Lady Walter, she expects the scandal, gossip, and secrets. What she doesn’t expect is the dead body in Lady Walter’s garden.

Lily overheard the man just minutes before he was shot: young, desperate, and attempting blackmail. But she’s willing to leave the matter to the local constables–until Lord Walter bribes the investigating magistrate to drop the case. Stunned and confused, Lily realizes she’s the only one with the key to catching the killer.

Aided by a roguish navy captain and a mysterious heiress from the West Indies, Lily sets out to discover whether her friend’s husband is mixed up in blackmail and murder. The unlikely team tries to conceal their investigation behind the whirl of London’s social season, but the dead man knew secrets about people with power. Secrets that they would kill to keep hidden. Now, Lily will have to uncover the truth, before she becomes the murderer’s next target.”

My Thoughts:

I am always on the hunt for new historical mystery series to read and I had heard good things about this book. When I was able to snag a copy at my local library, I jumped at the chance. The thing that really drew me into this book was the description that lovers of Tasha Alexander and Rhys Bowen would really enjoy this book. Alexander and Bowen are two of my favorite historical mystery authors, so I knew that I had to give this book a shot. I was not disappointed. Lily Adler is newly widowed and is struggling to find her way in the world without her husband. She has returned to London with the hope of throwing herself back into the social scene to help her forget the loss of her husband. She soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation.

Attending her friend’s ball, Lily escapes to the garden for a moment’s respite from the overwhelming crush of London’s upper elite. In the garden she overhears an argument and is shocked when she hears a gunshot. She hurries over to the scene and finds a young man dead of a gunshot wound. No one else is around. Spurring into action, Lily finds some help and learns that the young man was involved in blackmail. But who was he blackmailing and why did someone want him dead? Lily plans to leave the investigating up to the police, but when she learns that her friend’s husband has bribed the local authorities to stop the investigation, she knows that it is up to her to solve the murder.

This book was a delightful read. I had a hard time putting it down. I immensely loved Lily’s character and how her drive for justice fueled her investigation. Even when she is in harm’s way, she is determined to solve the murder mystery because it is the right thing to do. Lily is a smart, strong and determined woman and she is not about to let anything stand her in her way. This was a great start to a new historical mystery series and I am anxious to read the next book in the series, Silence in the Library. I am wondering if any of you have read this book and what your thoughts are and how you feel this author compares to historical mystery greats Alexander and Bowen.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Katharine Schellman

Series: Lily Adler Mystery #1

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Pages: 327

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: One Fatal Flaw by Anne Perry

Description (from cover): “When a desperate woman comes to Daniel Pitt seeking a lawyer for her boyfriend, Rob Adwell, Daniel is convinced of the young man’s innocence. Adwell has been accused of murder and of setting a fire to conceal the body, but Daniel is sure that science can absolve him — and Miriam fford Croft is the best scientist that he knows. Miriam connects Daniel with her former teacher Sir Barnabas Saltram, an expert in arson, and together, they reveal Adwell’s innocence by proving that an accidental fire caused the victim’s death. But it’s not long before Adwell is killed in the same fiery fashion. If these deaths are, in fact, murders, what essential clue could Daniel and Miriam have missed?

As their investigation deepens, one of Saltram’s former cases comes into question, and Miriam finds herself on the defensive. If the reasoning Saltram used in that case is proved false, several other cases will have to be re-tried, and Saltram’s expert status — not to mention Miriam’s reputation — will be ruined. Haunted by Saltram’s shady tactics in and outside of the classroom, Miriam is desperate to figure out truths both past and present and protect herself in the face of Saltram’s lies. What started as an accidental fire in Adwell’s case seems to be linked to a larger plot for revenge, with victims accumulating in its wake, and Miriam and Daniel must uncover who or what is stoking these recurring flames — before they, too, find themselves burned.”

My Thoughts:

This book is the third installment of Anne Perry’s Daniel Pitt mystery series. I have reviewed the second book in this series, Triple Jeopardy, on this blog. If you know anything about the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, you will know that Daniel is their son and he is now grown up and is a lawyer in his own right. He is just starting out in his career, but has had successful cases prior to this one and he is still struggling to find out more about the law and how to properly defend his clients. In this book, Rob Adwell, is charged with arson and committing murder during the course of the fire. HIs girlfriend, Jessie, pleads on his behalf with Daniel to represent him in his defense and Daniel takes the case believing Adwell is innocent of the crimes. Daniel is able to get the jury to acquit him of all charges and is shocked when Adwell turns up dead in the same manner that he was accused and now Jessie is charged with arson and his murder.

I feel like I struggled with this book. It was long-winded some parts and was probably my least favorite of the series so far. There wasn’t a lot of character development in this book and I am anxious to have the characters evolve at a more faster pace. This book felt more like a placeholder than an actual beneficial installment to this series. Also, most of the books in this series tend to follow one case, this one had three separate cases in it and it was a little hard to follow in parts. This book featured some forensic science and how it was developing in the early 20th century, which was fascinating; however, the same information was repeated frequently throughout the book to the point it was almost overdone.

While this book wasn’t one of my favorites in this series, I do like Daniel’s character and the supporting characters Perry has created in this series. I feel like the author could have taken this book in several different directions and the end result was a little disappointing. The ending felt rushed and while I liked the characters and their stories, it wasn’t enough to make this a very enjoyable read which is surprising coming from such an acclaimed author as Perry. Normally her books are engaging and very hard to put down. I am hoping that the next in the series, Death with a Double Edge, will be better. I have it on my to read list and I am hoping the next installment will be just as engaging as before.

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars

Author: Anne Perry

Series: Daniel Pitt Mystery #3

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Pages: 338

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poison by Kate Khavari

Description (from cover): “Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professor’s wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?”

My Thoughts:

This is the first book in the Saffron Everleigh mystery series. Saffron is an assistant to a botany professor at London’s University College. She is smart and determined to make a name for herself academically. Although this is quite a hard feat for her as she is the first female assistant and is treated differently for being so. Her father was a well-known botany professor at the university and she is eager to make her own way in a world dominated by men. She is often looked over just because she is a woman. When the wife of a professor is poisoned at a party she attends, she knows that nothing is as it appears and she is determined to solve the case. Surrounded by men who think that they are better than her because she is just a woman, she is able to investigate on the sly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am glad that I was able to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy as I am always on the hunt for a new historical mystery series to love. In this book, the author does a great job of showing the reader how women were treated professionally in the 1920’s. Even though women were starting to leave the home and create careers for themselves, not everyone was on board. That is a struggle that the reader sees Saffron having to deal with a lot in this book. She is smart, but she is a woman and that limits her chances to advance in a field presently dominated by men.

With the help of another research assistant, Alexander Ashton, she sets out to determine who wanted to murder Mrs. Henry and why. Was it her husband who was having an affair or was it one of the other professors in the department who had grudges against her husband? I thought that this was a brilliantly written debut novel in this new historical mystery series and I cannot wait to read more about Saffron’s adventures in the future. I couldn’t put this one down and am extremely excited about this series and will be watching for new books in the future.

Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars

Author: Kate Khavari

Series: Saffron Everleigh Mystery #1

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Pages: 304

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: Wild Irish Rose by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles

Description (from cover): “New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen, now writing in partnership with her daughter, Clare Broyles, transports and enthralls readers through the incomparable Molly Murphy Sullivan. Wild Irish Rose is the next novel in this beloved mystery series, a cause for celebration for readers and critics alike.

New York, 1907: Now that she’s no longer a private detective–at least not officially–Molly Murphy Sullivan is looking forward to a time of settled tranquility with friends and family. Back in New York, where her own story began, Molly decides to accompany some friends to Ellis Island to help distribute clothing to those in need. This journey quickly stirs up memories for Molly. When you’re far from home and see people from your country, every face looks like a family member.

That evening Molly’s policeman husband, Daniel, is late returning home. He comes with a tale to tell: there was a murder on Ellis Island that day, and the main suspect is the spitting image of Molly. The circumstances are eerily similar to when Molly herself arrived on Ellis Island, and she can’t help but feel a sense of fate. Molly was meant to be there that day so that she can clear this woman’s name.”

My Thoughts:

Molly Murphy Sullivan is a former Irish immigrant who now has a policeman husband, a baby and a family of her own. She has come a long way since she landed in Ellis Island to start her new life in America. When she has the opportunity to assist her friends with providing newly arrived immigrants with coats to protect against the harsh New York winters, she is reminded of her own past and jumps to help. While she is helping on Ellis Island, she is mistaken for one of the immigrants and is forced to prove her identity. Upon arriving at home, she learns that the immigrant she was wrongly mistaken for is a suspect in a murder. Realizing her own struggles and journey, she is drawn to help her husband solve this murder and prevent another wrongly accused woman from being thrown in jail for murder.

As I have stated before on this blog, Rhys Bowen is one of my favorite historical mystery authors. I have long been a fan of her and this series. It has been quite the journey through the years to see what Molly is going to get herself into next and when I had the opportunity to read this new release in advance, I jumped at the chance. While this book was little long in areas and felt like it dragged on more than usual, it still was a good read and new addition to a beloved series.

In this book, we really see Molly struggle with her past and her future. She wants to be a good wife and mother, but she is drawn to her past as a private detective and she cannot help but find herself in the middle of a murder investigation. While Daniel, her husband, is not thrilled with her assisting him in his investigation, he is willing to allow her to assist with a caveat, that she first be a wife and a mother and not put herself in danger. Of course, this is easier said than done and Molly is up to her old antics. This was another fantastic read by Rhys Bowen and her daughter Clare Broyles and I am anxiously awaiting the next release in this series.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Author: Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles

Series: Molly Murphy Mystery #18

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Pages: 384

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.

A Question of Betrayal by Anne Perry

Description (from cover): “On her first mission for MI6, the daring young photographer at the heart of this thrilling new mystery series by bestselling author Anne Perry travels to Mussolini’s Italy to rescue the lover who betrayed her.

Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI6, has lost contact with its informant in northern Italy, just as important information about the future plans of Austria and Nazi Germany is coming to light. And young Elena Standish, to her surprise, is the only person who can recognize MI6’s man–because he is her former lover. Aiden Strother betrayed Elena six years ago, throwing shame on her entire family. Now, with so much to prove, Elena heads to Trieste to track down Aiden and find out what happened to his handler, who has mysteriously cut off contact with Britain.

As Elena gets word of a secret group working to put Austria in the hands of Germany, her older sister, Margot, is in Berlin to watch a childhood friend get married–to a member of the Gestapo. Margot and Elena’s grandfather, the former head of MI6, is none too happy about the sisters’ travels at this tumultuous time, especially when a violent event at home reminds him that even Britain is growing dangerous. As his own investigation collides with his granddaughter’s, what’s at stake on the continent becomes increasingly frightening–and personal.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Europe, New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry crafts a novel full of suspense, political intrigue, and the struggle between love and loyalty to country.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Elena Standish series by Anne Perry that takes place in the 1930’s in an Europe that is increasingly gearing up for war. In the period after World War I and the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany, Britain’s MI6 is actively engaged in preventing another war by using spies strategically placed in Nazi Germany, and in Northern Italy. There appears to be plans afoot to overthrow the new Austrian Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss, and have Nazi Germany take over the country to further the political ambitions of Hitler. MI6 has agent Aiden Strother in place in Northern Italy to pass along information to the British and to keep them informed of Hitler’s plans. When Strother’s handler, Max, seemingly appears to go missing with no contact, MI6 sends in Elena in order to find Max and bring Strother and his information back to England. The only reason they send in Elena is because Aiden was her former lover and she is the only one who can be relied upon to find him.

This book was a little chaotic and hard to follow at times. I had a hard time keeping up with everything for a little while, but towards the end, I was able to get hooked into the story and wanted to see how it ended. I felt the ending was a little rushed and could have been a little more thought out. I liked the characters and the historical context. I always find it interesting to read about World War II and how it started. Europe really didn’t want to fight another war right after one that caused so many losses and struggles, but Germany was determined to recover and make a name for itself at any cost.

Anne Perry has long been a favorite author of mine and I am glad that she has branched out and decided to write books in a different era as she normally writes in about Victorian England. While this book wasn’t the greatest book I read, I still appreciate her attention to detail and her way with endearing her readers to the characters. I will see what the next book in the series, A Darker Reality, has in store for these characters, but it seems that there will need to be a little more moving forward for this to become a series that I really enjoy and love.

Overall Rating: 2.5 Stars

Author: Anne Perry

Series: Elena Standish Mystery #2

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Pages: 305

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen by Rhys Bowen

Description (from cover): “Georgie is back and hanging the stockings with care when a murder interrupts her Christmas cheer in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling Royal Spyness series from Rhys Bowen.

Georgie is excited for her first Christmas as a married woman in her lovely new home. She suggests to her dashing husband, Darcy, that they have a little house party, but when Darcy receives a letter from his aunt Ermintrude, there is an abrupt change in plans. She has moved to a house on the edge of the Sandringham estate, near the royal family, and wants to invite Darcy and his new bride for Christmas. Aunt Ermintrude hints that the queen would like Georgie nearby. Georgie had not known that Aunt Ermintrude was a former lady-in-waiting and close confidante of her royal highness. The letter is therefore almost a royal request, so Georgie, Darcy, and their Christmas guests: Mummy, Grandad, Fig, and Binky all head to Sandringham.

Georgie soon learns that the notorious Mrs. Simpson, mistress to the Prince of Wales, will also be in attendance. It is now crystal clear to Georgie that the Queen expects her to do a bit of spying. There is tension in the air from the get-go, and when Georgie pays a visit to the queen, she learns that there is more to her request than just some simple eavesdropping. There have been a couple of strange accidents at the estate recently. Two gentlemen of the royal household have died in mysterious circumstances and another has been shot by mistake during a hunt. Georgie begins to suspect that a member of the royal family is the real target but her investigation will put her new husband and love of her life, Darcy, in the crosshairs of a killer.”

My Thoughts:

**I have reviewed previous books in this series: The Twelve Clues of Christmas, Malice at the Palace, and Crowned and Dangerous**

Rhys Bowen has long been a favorite historical mystery author of mine. I adore her Molly Murphy mysteries and the Royal Spyness series, of which this book is a part of. Every single time a new book of hers is released, I jump right on it. Bowen has a way of creating characters that one simply cannot get enough of and books that never disappoint. I love her writing style and how she makes the characters all seem like friends. I devour her books in a matter of days as they are so good and impossible to put down. Georgie is a lesser royal, who has been down on her luck in the past, but the future is looking bright. She has recently married Darcy and they make plans of how to spend their first Christmas together. When those plans are thrown out the window due to a royal request, Darcy and Georgie head with her mother, her brother and his wife with their children to Darcy’s aunt’s house located on the Sandringham estate for a Christmas house party.

In true Georgie fashion, things start to go amiss from the moment they arrive. People start to turn up dead in mysterious circumstances and strange accidents are happening all over the estate. Georgie, along with Darcy, use their wits and skills to find out what is going on. Everyone is a suspect and no one is safe. Georgie and Darcy must race the clock and a killer before more murders occur. Georgie, while hoping for a relaxing first Christmas with her husband, finds herself in the midst of a murder’s cold blooded plot. With the return of beloved characters and a storyline that will keep the reader engaged and wanting more, this book is a great addition to the already fantastic Royal Spyness series.

Bowen has created another fantastic read with this book. I loved that I got to read this book right in the middle of Christmas season as that was a treat. Nothing like spending Christmas with your favorite characters. Georgie has come a long way in the series and the author shows no signs of slowing down in plans for her future in the books. As always, I am already eagerly anticipating the next installment of this book and only wish the author could write them faster. This was a delightful read and one that left us with a little surprise at the end. Have you read this book or this series? If so, I would love to hear in the comments what you think about the characters and this latest book in the series.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Rhys Bowen

Series: Royal Spyness Mystery #15

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Pages: 302

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.