A #CrimeFicFridays Book Spotlight | feat. the Historical Suspense novels by Karen Odden with a light of joy on “A Trace of Deceit”

Posted Friday, 2 October, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , , 1 Comment

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I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

Thankfully as I had to take a hiatus from Scribd, my regional library uses CloudLibrary for part of their audiobooks and I was able to listen to “A Lady in the Smoke” and “A Dangerous Duet” via their audiobook catalogue. I was not obligated to share my opinions and thoughts on behalf of the audiobooks and choose to share them for my own edification as well as continuing to share my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Trace of Deceit” direct from the publisher William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I  was expecting to be celebrating the fact I had listened to the first two novels in this series whilst I had read the third! And, yet, that isn’t quite how my hours with this series unfolded – courtesy of a towering stack of my chronic migraines & a slew of medical emergencies affecting my parents throughout the Summer  & most especially during September – hence why I am one of the champions of October and Autumn’s fierce grip which is happily starting us out right into a new Season!

Rather than admitting I lost the hours I needed to proper dive into this series, I took it up as a bit of a challenge the night before this was meant to go ‘live’ as they say! I happily found the audiobooks were available to borrow via CloudLibrary, whilst I had music queued and ready on Spotify for when I settled into the print edition of A Trace of Deceit. I was thankful for the bookmark the author mailed to me – it was one of those lovely chunky ones which has a lot of girth and height? I *love!* being surprised with bookmarks and this one was enscribed which was especially kind and sweet to receive. Therefore, as I started to become acquainted with the Victorian Mysteries I was surprised by what I was finding inside them and how each narrator approached the stories differently.

I felt it best to present my reactions as I was listening and reading the stories themselves (per my usual) and let each of you decide if this is a series you can chase after yourself and/or if something I’ve shared or said might help you decide if another series might be a better fit for you too. This is one reason why I love being a book blogger as we each help the other find the stories we might not otherwise have ‘met’.

This #CrimeFicFridays I am showcasing my introduction into the Victorian Mysteries by Karen Odden. Each forthcoming #CrimeFicFriday might be a similar showcase and spotlight and/or it could feature a full review of a Crime Fiction novel I’ve recently read whilst I might also host an author and showcase their story and/or series, too. It is a feature which constantly is in flux and whenever I feel creatively inspired to share a portion of my pursuit of finding Crime Fiction novelists and narrators I love discovering – you’ll see this feature presenting itself with new posts!

Lest I mention I’ve renamed this feature from [#CrimeFicFriday] to [#CrimeFicFridays] as for whichever reason the latter comes more readily to my mind than the former? Same showcases, same featured selections but with a new twist of a name and a fancy new banner! I felt it only fitting that I debut the banner for this featured showcase alongside the debut of my #2PagePreview banner, as well! Both are full features here on Jorie Loves A Story but they needed their own identity, too.

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A #CrimeFicFridays Book Spotlight | feat. the Historical Suspense novels by Karen Odden with a light of joy on “A Trace of Deceit”A Trace of Deceit
by Karen Odden
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

From the author of A Dangerous Duet comes the next book in her Victorian mystery series, this time following a daring female painter and the Scotland Yard detective who is investigating her brother’s suspicious death.

A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780062796622

Published by William Morrow

on 17th December, 2019

Pages: 416

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The Victorian Mysteries by Karen Odden:

A Lady in the Smoke (book one)

A Dangerous Duet (book two)

A Trace of Deceit (book three)

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Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Available Formats: P.S. Edition Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #HistoricalMystery or #HistoricalMysteries
+ #VictorianMysteries and #HFVBTBlogTours

About Karen Odden

Karen Odden

Karen Odden received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays and chapters to books and journals, including Studies in the Novel, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation; she has written introductions for Barnes and Noble editions of books by Dickens and Trollope; and she edited for the academic journal Victorian Literature and Culture.

She freely admits she might be more at home in nineteenth-century London than today, especially when she tries to do anything complicated on her iPhone. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and won the New Mexico-Arizona 2016 Book Award for e-Book Fiction. Her second novel, A Dangerous Duet, about a young pianist who stumbles on a notorious crime ring while playing in a Soho music hall in 1870s London, won the New Mexico-Arizona 2019 Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. A Trace of Deceit is her third novel. She resides in Arizona with her family and a ridiculously cute beagle named Rosy.

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[ after listening to small portions of A Lady in the Smoke and A Dangerous Duet
and reading my #25PagePreview of A Trace of Deceit ]

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[ A Lady in the Smoke ] by Karen Odden, narrated by Mary Sarah (by Tantor Audio)
Follow Mary Sarah (@marysaraha) or visit her site

[ about the story ]

I was quite caught inside Elizabeth’s journey – from how she was discomforted by the fact the train seemed to drag its heels to get onto the tracks to the fact she was pinned down into a conversation with Ms Rush at a moment when she’d rather speak to no one! Ms Rush had that kind of voice that grates on your last nerve, as she inserts herself well into the role of the family’s busybody who never would understand when she’s outstaid her welcome! You can also tell Elizabeth is quick to remorse and yet makes no apologies about how her emotional state and her reactions to the relation brokered no need to suffer a woman who would only give her unwanted thoughts about her own health.

There was a well of grief in Elizabeth’s voice – something was haunting her, hanging over her like an unwanted malaise which wouldn’t let go of her anytime soon. The most shocking scene was still to come – when the train derailed off the tracks and caught fire I felt a clutch of emotions assaulting me as Elizabeth is our eyes and ears on the ground. Everything she sees in that dire moment of attempting to free herself and her ailing Mum from the train pulls at you because of how she’s stricken by the sights and sounds of living through such a horror of tragedy. And, yet I was with her as her voice rose in its shocked state until she started to describe what was happening to the horses still trapped in the rail cars.

I admit, I shy away from stories that deal with animal abuse and death – listening to the fate of the horses was a step too much for me as I have a sensitive heart towards those kinds of scenes and being a horse rider myself, it was just a bit overly detailed. I had to hit pause before I heard something that might give me nightmares – as visually you do not forsake for anything a credit to the writer and to Mary Sarah, the narrator who viscerally leaves you pensive for hearing the next scenes.

[ about the narrator ]

I LOVE narrators who tuck us into a particular timescape and setting in such a way as to give us the illusion we’re there ourselves – whether this how they present the descriptive narrative bits in the background of the story OR how they interpret how to add accents and different vocalisations to their characters, I am definitely a ready appreciator of any narrator who can give me the fully dimensional experience of the world the writer has given us all to enjoy! In regards to feeling ‘placed’ inside the Victorian era within this first Mystery of the series – it had a lot to do with Ms Sarah’s voice and how she was articulating the lead character (Elizabeth Fraser).

For background and secondary characters, a few stood out to me as well – the shrill of the railroad men talking to the passengers and then of course, the incomparable (and yet well-meaning?) Ms Rush! A very distant relative of Elizabeth and you could tell the discontempt Elizabeth had for her just in her observational details Elizabeth is relating to us. You can distinctively tell the differences in their station and class; as then it was most dearly important to maintain those distances and those senses of order amongst different relations.

Despite finding this is one audiobook which is now marked as a DNF listen for me (due to the horses and the imagery therein) – I was most intrigued by the performance of Mary Sarah. I only heard less than an hour of the story and I was completely transfixed on her voice as she took me closer to the heart of this world and how it was affected Elizabeth Fraser’s experience on the train. It was such a hauntingly evocative tale and sadly, I just couldn’t shift past that one scene to get further invested into it. She is however a new narrator on my radar to seek out and that was the wickedest news to share I think!

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[ A Dangerous Duet ] by Karen Odden, narrated by Mary Sarah (by Tantor Audio)
Follow Billie Fulford-Brown (@billiefb) or visit her site

[ about the story ]

For whichever reason, I could not get myself to attach inside this world – which is odd, as I love stories which involve music and/or the live stage. Whether there is a theatre attachment to them or not and yet, with this storyline I felt myself fluttering for something to anchour me into the story. The lead character wasn’t easily someone to feel a warmth towards and somewhere in the chaos of trying to sort out my feelings about the story (within the Introduction) I simply lost traction. Sadly this is the second DNF in the series for me and I honestly heard less of this one than the first! It was quite the shock to feel so removed from the lead character as when I was listening to A Lady in the Smoke I was quite enraptured and emotionally attached!

[ about the narrator ]

I loved the musical interlude at the start of the audiobook even though I was surprised there was a change in narrators but then I remembered, this series isn’t sequential and isn’t relating an episodic journey about one character or even connecting characters (that I know of) – thereby, it would make sense as our lead characters exchange positions new narrators could come into the series to tell their stories. Ms Fulford-Brown’s style of narrating is a sharp turnabout from Ms Sarah’s – as where Ms Sarah’s voicing of the story was hauntingly atmospheric, Ms Fulford-Brown’s voice had a cheery lilt to it and gave a strong confidence of a story that was not as shrouded in the weariness of grief and duress as it had been with Elizabeth Fraser’s story.

Thankfully Ms Fulford-Brown also has a talent for differentiating characters from one another and gives them different presentations of vocalisations which helps provide the fuller illusion that this could very well have been a play on a stage full of actors than a singular performance. Those are my favourites to find as I love suspension of reality the effect provides. It also seems that those narrators most oft end up on my short and long list of favourites!

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[ A Trace of Deceit ] by Karen Odden

I loved the opening sentence to A Trace of Deceit – so much depth in such a short bit of words – how the tracings of grief can be felt through our emotional connections to the objects we use in our artwork. Thereby the object itself can present an emotional response a bit faster than the person whose still wrestling with their sorrow and trying to sort through their thoughts as they process the death they were not yet ready to endure. And, yet Odden evoked all this by the simple action of noting how a painter would deduce this about themselves after having taken up their paint.

I daresay I read too much Cosy Crime at times as when the paint splattered I wasn’t thinking about poppies in a field – I was thinking it created its own pattern of blood against the floor. This was noting a pattern of behaviour rather than the confirmation of a sudden loss of a loved one. It was interesting how Odden portrayed grief before it was confirmed because in Annabel’s heart she had rooted out the truth before it could be known by the authorities or rather before they could inform her of the news. These connections are notable as brothers and sisters share such close bonds with one another it is fully conceivable that she would have known the truth about her brother without any contact at all – as on some level we do share a spiritual tether with our family members.

What as intriguing is she is in pursuit of art and is the pursuit of art which became the demise of her brother or rather to put it a different way, Annabel had to work hard towards success in art wheras Edwin found it came naturally to him. Annabel also had to deal with all the prejudices and outcast stigmas of her fellow students at the school of art as she was living in an age where there were less women than men at the school. The pressure she must have felt everyday she went to school had to be incredibly intense! I’ve read other stories like this one where the art world is unkind to women and where they’d prefer women take less interest in the world of art overall.

I immediately took a keen liking to Inspector Hallam – he had the kind of bedside manner you wished more doctors had themselves and yet he had a calmness about him, too. He wasn’t quick to alarm family whose loved ones were taken too soon from this world by untoward events and he had a kindness about him as well for finding words to speak with sympathy and earnest integrity at times where others might find themselves unable to speak at all. He wasn’t easily started and his capacity to have compassion towards Annabel and sympathise with her grief for Edwin made him endearing. He also seemed to intuit a lot through his observations and the manner in which he interviewed people – even with Annabel, he was able to get her to take a pause from her sorrow and aide him in his search of Edwin’s flat. Not many could pull that off and I am sure Annabel might have questioned how she mustered the strength to do it, too, after the day had worn itself out.

It felt so fitting a lamplighter had been on the streets whilst Annabel made her journey back home after having learnt the truth about Edwin. He was bringing Light back into the world as Darkness had disallowed light to shine without his help. And, whilst he was giving Light, Edwin had unfortunately brought a bit of darkness into Annabel’s life – giving her a reason to find all the light a bit too bright for circumstances like these where the darker greys and hues might have been more appropriate. I felt the implied symbolism and metaphors were well timed.

The tricky bit about art forgery is who is at greater risk? The artist or the person who is hiring the forger? Sometimes the artists who forge the art of the masters can sometimes find better work for them as restoration artists but I would suspect it would be tempting to go back to old habits. And, of course that’s the rub with Edwin’s death. As I arrived on the twenty-fifth page, even Annabel wasn’t certain about the situations in which Edwin found himself at time of death now that he had new information from Felix. And, that dear hearts is all I was able to find out in time for the tour!

[ on the writing styling of Karen Odden ]

This might be a bit odd to admit, but whenever Odden has opened her novel with a melancholic opening wherein we are greeted by one of her leading heroines full of grief and remorse for circumstances we are not yet privy towards are the stories she’s written I find myself drawn to read the most. I could not make an emotional connection to A Dangerous Duet but with Annabel and Elizabeth so wonderfully constructed and dimensionally grounded in their individual worlds – I could see myself reading A Trace of Deceit until the conclusion; if there weren’t any surprises in the content of the story.

Odden has a particular talent for having this grey aura hover over her characters and give them the chance to wick off their own emotions long enough to better understand what is happening in their lives as we’re meeting them for ourselves. It is there where we see a more raw and emotionally honest portrait of themselves and for that, it is a credit to Odden for pulling us into their journey.

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I shall not be leaving anyone in suspense – I plan to carry on reading this over the weekend and hopefully next week I can share a fuller review of my reactions and takeaways as I walked alongside Annabel and kept a hopeful watch on the young Inspector at the Yard who Annabel seemed like she might fall for someone like him if given half the chance and wouldn’t that be a sweet ending!?

I’d love to hear if you’ve sampled the stories from this series yourself or if you are planning to one day read them one after the other as I had originally planned to do myself? What do you love most about finding the world of art in fiction? And, what kinds of Cosy Crime narratives do you love reading personally in the historic past?!

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This Blog Tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating & enjoy the bookaway:

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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NOTE: Similar to blog tours wherein I feature book reviews, book spotlights (with or without extracts), book announcements (or Cover Reveals) – I may elect to feature an author, editor, narrator, publisher or other creative person connected to the book, audiobook, Indie film project or otherwise creative publishing medium being featured wherein the supplemental content on my blog is never compensated monetarily nor am I ever obligated to feature this kind of content. I provide (98.5%) of all questions and guest topics regularly featured on Jorie Loves A Story. I receive direct responses back to those enquiries by publicists, literary agents, authors, blog tour companies, etc of whom I am working with to bring these supplemental features and showcases to my blog. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them: I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. Whenever there is a conflict of connection I do disclose those connections per post and disclose the connection as it applies.

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Whilst this is part of my featured spotlights alighting on Jorie Loves A Story:

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “A Trace of Deceit”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Karen Odden, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #CrimeFicFridays Banner, Book Spotlight banner, #25PagePreview banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 2 October, 2020 by jorielov in #25PagePreview, #CrimeFicFridays, Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours




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