Category: Amateur Detective

A special #HistoricalMondays Guest Post | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne Freeman

Posted Monday, 17 August, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , 2 Comments

Guest Contributor and/or Reviewer of JLAS banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was hoping to share my ruminations about the third Countess of Harleigh novel with you today, however, the truth of it is I have been reading at a far slower pace recently due to having 3x migraines in 3 weeks and nearly succumbing to a fourth this past weekend. It takes quite a bit out of me to transition out of these more severe migraines (what I refer to as supernovas) and despite my earnest intentions to read on the schedules of my blog tours, sometimes I fall a bit short, which is why I’m going to be featuring a lovely Guest Post by Ms Freeman today and share my review with you about this delightful third novel during my latest #CrimeFicFridays review on the 21st which is the final day of the tour.

I should also mention, I originally was going to interview Ms Freeman about this latest release and tie it back together with the previous two installments as I had previously interviewed her during the first blog tour I hosted of hers wherein I discovered this most charmingly intriguing character and found a wicked new Cosy Historical Mystery series in which to love devouring! I loved this series so dearly much that I also had her as a guest author on my chat @SatBookChat!

However, after having a clustering of severe migraines I simply ran out of time to gather my thoughts and put forth a conversation which would honour the series. I was thankful Ms Freeman didn’t mind switching to a guest post and this topic was one of her choosing. When I read the essay I was quite charmed and think you will be too because it discusses the curious manners of ‘house parties’ and what was keenly interesting is how *structured!* and *regulated!* they were despite the illusion that it was a causal get together amongst friends!

I look forward to sharing more with you at the close of the week but for now, if this is your first introduction to the series, I hope it will whet a thirst of interest to begin reading the stories!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On why I love reading this series:

A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

Rather immediately, I found myself drawn into the life of Frances – not just because her husband was a cad and a louse of a husband but because of how Ms Freeman endeared us to champion her cause as a woman exiting her mourning period and getting on with her life! It was quite horrid for women in the 19th Century – still attached to that tradition of wearing dearly depressing hues of black and grey (in different increments which were rather strictly enforced!) for at least a year after becoming widowed. It was only then, where she could ‘re-emerge’ into her colours and start to make her presence more widely known in society. How those women managed it, I’ll never know not – as in the case of Frances, it most have truly become a chore knowing her her husband departed his life! Oyy, vie such a rat!

Her in-laws were quite typical – only out for themselves, more concerned with the affairs relating to their estate and less enthused to even entertain a thought of concern over Frances. For her benefit, she was made of stronger stock than they would have believed and she took her daughter (Rose) and herself off to the city to carve out their future elsewhere from the throes of the Harleigh family and the responsibilities therein. Freeman gave you such a hearty and joyful introduction to her character – part of her antics reminded me of why I have such cheeky joy in reading the Anna Blanc series and part of the exchanges also reminded me of my recent over the Discreet Detective Agency – there is something to be said for well-timed satire and humour in the Cosy Historical Mysteries your reading! The appeal of course is being able to burst into giggles alongside the allure of moving deeper into the context of the building mystery!

Of course, not all is ill for Frances – she has enough resources within her means to purchase a least outright for a house which still has eighty years to be lived inside! Imagine? She might have sparse furnishings and staff but something told me her and Rose would thrive here rather than having stayed on with the relatives at the estate. One of my favourite moments is when she bribes one of the maids not to spoilt her news by giving her the chance to make haste and away with her once she moves out. It was a ploy to cover-up the fact she had a bit of a rebellious nature inside her to where she did not like to leave things to fate if there was a loophole round the unknown! Smartly written, Freeman keeps you entertained from one chapter to the next to where it is just a delight to overhear what Frances will say next and what her next actions might be which become the new concerns of the family she’s left behind!

As fate continued to give Frances more headaches than smiles, you had to give it to her – she chose to set her attitude on the positive and despite the arduous circumstances alighting towards her at an alarming speed of haste from her brother-in-law, Frances wouldn’t let her resolve falter. There was much more at stake than inconvenient delays in the normality of her life – no, she simply turnt her chin up with a strength she might not have entirely felt but one which would see her through with the kindness of her friends. This was another instance where you could see how lovely it was for her to have Fiona in her life – the kind of huckleberry friend everyone needs and is blessed to have found.

Part of the joy of reading this series are the layers of etiquette permeating into the fabric of the story-line – fitting for this debut of the series itself as it lends a certain view of the absurdity of tradition these lords and ladies were put through when their era was in its heyday! All the confining points of societal regulations and the fact, you couldn’t just remove yourself from the obligations as that would be lent to scandal and gossip; Freeman takes you through the motions of how frivolous the ton can be and how determined you must become to outwit them all the same! Frances shows this by her unwavering belief that if you lead with strength and a resolve to overcome whatever befalls you, society will either a) move on to the next lead story or b) forget you completely; which I felt was her preference. Frances wasn’t the kind who welcomed notoriety – quite the opposite, I believed she wanted to live a more ordinary life without all the pops and poms of the elevated class.

I was endeared to the plot long before I caught-on to the mysterious events happening in the background – for me, this series is wickedly driven by its characters – specifically everyone related into the  personal orbit and sphere of Frances! You can’t help but feel caught inside her life – seeing how even the most ordinary of lives can suddenly become a feast of trouble yet with a sturdy circle of friends and family; any obstacle can surely become defeated! I must admit, by the time I unearthed the actual crime and the person behind it – I was quite somber! I hadn’t expected the villain in the story to be whom they were as I was expecting it be someone else completely! The way in which Freeman related those finer details of the whys and hows lead me to believe the rest of this series is going to be as charmingly cosy to read as its debut!

-quoted from my review of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A special #HistoricalMondays Guest Post | feat. the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder
Subtitle: A Countess of Harleigh Mystery
by Dianne Freeman
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In Dianne Freeman’s charming Victorian-era mystery series, Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, finds her sister’s wedding threatened by a vow of vengeance.

London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll…

Genres: Historical Fiction, Cosy Historical Mystery, Amateur Detective


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781496716934

Also by this author: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder, A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder, A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder (Author Interview)

Also in this series: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder, A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder


Published by Kensington Books

on 28th July, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries:

A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne FreemanA Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip & Murder (book one) | see also review

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette & Murder (book two) | see also review

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Murder (book three)

Published by: Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks)

Converse via: #CosyMystery OR #Cosy #HistoricalMystery
and #CountessOfHarleighMystery

Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

For those on Scribd: Happily the first two audiobooks of this series are available!

About Dianne Freeman

Dianne Freeman

Dianne Freeman is a life-long book lover who left the world of corporate finance to pursue her passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, she realized her true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. She also realized she didn’t like winter very much so now she and her husband pursue the endless summer by splitting their time between Michigan and Arizona. She’s been nominated for an Agatha and the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and won the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery.

Read More

Divider

Posted Monday, 17 August, 2020 by jorielov in 19th Century, Amateur Detective, Author Guest Post (their topic), Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Lady Detective Fiction, London, Scribd, the Victorian era

#SpooktasticReads Audiobook Review | “Death on the River” (Book Two: Tara Thorpe Mysteries) by Clare Chase, narrated by Lucy Brownhill [an audiobook I began listening to during #FraterfestRAT 2019]

Posted Wednesday, 23 October, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 1 Comment

#SpooktasticReads Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: In the months since August 2018, I decided to switch memberships to Scribd due to the reduction in cost for a subscription based service for audiobooks – however, I still have an active account on Audible and still use it to listen to audiobooks – either those I’ve purchased (past/ present), the complimentary ones I receive for review and/or the ones I’m either gifted or have won in giveaways. I took a brief hiatus in my subscription services for Scribd – especially from June-October 2019; resuming the service on 24th October during the #SpooktasticReads readathon.

I previously placed a pre-order for the first audiobook in this series “Murder on the Marshes” whilst I submitted a purchase request (for the print edition) at my local library for the third novel “Death Comes to Call”; which they accepted and the book is being added to their card catalogue this Autumn 2019.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Death on the River” direct from the publisher Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

It should be noted: I did host an interview with the author, Clare Chase and she provided the Press Materials for this series to use on both the interview and on my review if I elected to share one. She was a guest via my chat on Twitter showcasing Romance & Women’s Fiction (inclusive of all sub-genres) @SatBookChat on the 27th of October, 2018 to discuss this series and her character Tara Thorpe.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I was thankful to begin “Death on the River” during #FraterfestRAT 2019 and how it has become a tradition of mine to read a Claire Chase Thriller:

Unfortunately, due to my health afflictions throughout [2018] and the increased frequencies of my chronic migraines – I had a lot of trouble shifting back into reading and/or listening to the audiobooks I had planned to focus on for review considerations. This is one of the audiobooks I had to push forward until I could give it my full attention. Due to the distance from acquiring it and when I could honestly listen to it – the series has evolved rather quickly! As I noticed each of the individual installments of this series released quite frequently back-to-back without too much delay between them.

Since my review of “Murder on the Marshes” this series has grown and has become a complete set of four stories which are the following: Murder on the Marshes, Death on the River, Death Comes to Call and Murder in the Fens.

One observation did sadden me – I cannot find the release dates for the next two audiobooks as the previous two installments were released shortly after the ebook and paperbacks. I was hoping Ms Brownhill was commissioned to narrate the third and fourth novels given how attached I’ve become in hearing her embrace the characters – giving us a wholly organic evolution of their essences and placing us directly in an emotionally complex series which you honestly don’t want to beg off for sleep! I’ll simply have to remain hopeful further announcements will eventually be made if and when the series resumes to be released into audio.

The reason I was wicked thrilled for a bit of a nudge during #FraterfestRAT 2019 – which has apparently become my ‘tradition’ to read a Clare Chase Thriller during the readathon – now two years strong here on Jorie Loves A Story – is I needed a segue back into reading Thrillers! I have struggled with my focus as foresaid and this readathon gave me the best [block] of time to just re-settle my heart into the stories themselves. I happily populated a *thread of tweets on Twitter and had the most joy in re-discovering where I would be picking up the story-line next to #TaraThorpe!

This is why readathons are a reader’s delight – they allow us the chance to rediscover why we love reading and they tend to take the pressure off the guilt whenever we cannot attach into the series we desire to be reading straight-away!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I am enjoying engaging with Tara Thorpe & her series:

When you first start to listen to Murder on the Marshes, you don’t have too much time to consider what is being disclosed to you – the somberness is there, along with the tension of discovery – but to better understand the scene and what is happening – those moments are placed on hold. You are only giving a short glimpse of what is there – a flickering of an image if this were a film reel before it fades out and the impression of that moment, of that incomplete scene lingers as you enter the next chapter. This was a unique POV to be placed inside right before moving straight into present day – I love a good flashback sequence like the next person but this one felt honestly unique by how Chase gave only “just enough” to keep us curious before moving forward with a keenly taut & tight delivery of current events in Tara and Blake’s timelines.

As we shifted into present day, we arrive inside Tara Thrope’s life where the nightmares of her past are never far outside the shadows lingering outside her residence. Though those shadows were more ominous now – as someone could very well be lying in wait to return and to cause her duress. It was this uncertainty – of sensing something she couldn’t chase down herself which pinned her on edge and gave her the unease of realising she was as vulnerable now as she had been previously; she could not control all situations nor of someone who felt they could harass her into a panic. Part of this was due to how she arrived home but the other half of it stemmed from receiving a parcel in the post – a parcel which held such a curiously normal object but which was sent with malice and not a kindness of heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed observing DI Blake on scene – where Professor Seabrook is first discovered and where his investigation begins – ahead of meeting Tara where he is pulled into investigating how what happened to Tara might or might not interconnect with the Seabrook case. During this scene, there was a lovely piece of juxtaposition where Art History and crime investigation merged into a beautiful symmetry of insight – as Blake started to talk about Millais’s Ophelia. This was also a small gesture of introducing us into the reserved and private DI Blake – a bloke who did not readily disclose bits about himself unless he was in company he trusted.

It was around this time I had already noticed another series was being hinted at in the back of my mind: as the case itself was being discussed, it brought back memories of Scott and Bailey: Season One as this involved a roundtable approach to discussing the details and potential leads. I love Police Procedurals for this one reason – you get to tuck close to different opinions, different attitudes and personalities and different approaches in sleuthing out the truth. Everyone has to work together and everyone has a different role to place in the pursuit of justice. I think this is why I read a lot of mysteries and why I enjoy watching them as well – the percolation of personalities against the background of working together to solve a case.

When it comes to secondary characters and characters of whom I would love to see more often in future installments would be the pathologist Agneta Lawson. The reason Chase’s pathologist held my eye is because she had a unique POV on Blake whilst she was aces at her job; the added benefit truly being the narrator brought her to life, gave her a unique voicing which allowed me to consider her position and her character a bit more than if she hadn’t been presented in this unique way to a reader. This is one reason I love listening to audiobooks as you sometimes find yourself able to discern certain aspects of stories which might be lost or left unseen if your reading a story in print. And, vice versa of course! I also have a personal interest in pathologists as evidenced by the fact I love Abby from NCIS who makes a brill job at highlighting how hard their jobs really are outside of the work of Duckie (from the same series) equally brings forward.

Despite all the advancements Tara and Blake had made towards being a unified front, Tara was a civilian and Blake was having more trouble separating them as a ‘duo’ and respecting the fact she was on the outside. It was becoming especially difficult if you factored in his own personal strife and adversities affecting his mind and heart whilst he was working – as no matter how tough one appears to become for a high risk job where lives were on the line, being human was the one element which left everything subjective and challenging. Blake couldn’t resolve his personal life fast enough in order to have a less stressed professional life. You felt for Blake and you understood why Tara was approaching Blake the way she had been – as this is where it all felt a bit murky where two people who might never have meet were suddenly entwined due to circumstances.

Chase had a segue of interest outside of the main threads of interests wherein we tuck into the personal life of Tara Thrope – where we get to become better acquainted with her mother, an actress and of how Tara’s relationship with her Mum is sometimes a bit rockier than most daughters would prefer. Still, her family might have their quirks and their troubles but they were still approachable which I enjoyed seeing as it meant that they still cared about each other and were still an important part of Tara’s life. I felt from the very beginning her personal life with her family might be strained or close to it due to what originally occurred – referencing here how Kemp entered her life and why. Yet, the curious bit is how her Mum helped her pin down quite a few clues she couldn’t have sorted without her help. I had to smile there – as despite everything, Tara’s Mum held answers she couldn’t have found elsewhere!

One observation I was making was how this is like one giant chess board – where the players you’re not expecting to be the most evasive are in Academia & the ones who surprise you are outside of it; everyone moving towards each other & then away – great drama that! I would imagine it is hard to juggle the backstory against the current day cases whilst giving each equal measure of importance; plus having the believability of solid continuity about the setting (Cambridge) and the protocols associated with both police work and journalism. Nothing was sacrificed to convince you of the other things taking place – uniting you in a lovely puzzle of a crime drama where even the pieces you might feel you should overlook could prove to be the one piece you need to pull the whole picture together!

-quoted from my review of Murder on the Marshes

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A notation about Bookouture & Hachette Books:

In [2016] I created a series of interviews featuring #Bookouture authors: Teresa Driscoll (feat. ‘Last Kiss Goodnight’); Natalie Meg Evans (feat. ‘A Gown of Thorns’); Renita D’ Silva (feat. ‘A Mother’ Secret’); Debbie Rix (feat. ‘Daughters of the Silk Road’); Kerry Fisher (feat. ‘After the Lie’); Helen Pollard (feat. ‘The Little French Guesthouse’) and Tom Bale (feat. ‘See How They Run’). I’ve been striving to collect all of these stories for my personal library whilst intending to share my ruminative thoughts – as I personally love to showcase a guest feature ahead of reading the stories which intrigue my bookish heart! Of this list, as of Thanksgiving 2017 – I have happily acquired the audiobook version of ‘The Little French Guesthouse’ which is a next listen of mine this year! I have more to share about how I acquired this audiobook when I share my ruminations!

Whilst for the past few years I’ve been a book blogger reading INSPY (faith-based) and Motivational stories (of fiction and Non-Fiction) from Hachette Books (USA) imprints: FaithWords and Center Street. At the time of coordinating this interview with Ms Chase, I had missed the fact ‘Bookouture’ was acquired by Hachette UK. This marks my first guest feature and showcased story for Hachette UK : Bookouture! (see also the announcement of the acquisition)

Meanwhile, as per my announcement recently featured on The Sunday Post, No. 6 – I purchased a copy of the digital audiobook version of ‘Murder on the Marshes’ which I am looking forward to listening too. My ruminations are forthcoming on behalf of this first installment of the Tara Thrope series as being this is my own purchase I am not obliged to post my reflections on this novel, I am choosing to showcase my reactions as Ms Chase is an author I personally love reading! (see also my review of ‘You Think You Know Me’)

Previously, you will remember, I crossed paths with Ms Chase through my readings of ChocLitUK (of which I am a reviewer) whilst I have had the pleasure of getting to know her personally through my chat @SatBookChat (previously known as @ChocLitSaturday).

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On my connection to Clare Chase: When I started a chat in [2014] my path crossed with Ms Chase as she was a regular chatter of what is now known as @SatBookChat. Ms Chase and I started to notice our reading habits were aligning with each other, and her conversations were happy editions to my week as I liked finding someone else who liked the same types of stories I was gravitating towards myself. We continued to ‘chat’ about our reading habits even outside of #ChocLitSaturday (the previous name of the chat), which was a blessed joy for me.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Chase through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #SatBookChat and privately as well. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. This also applies to hosting a guest feature by the author I share a connection.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#SpooktasticReads Audiobook Review | “Death on the River” (Book Two: Tara Thorpe Mysteries) by Clare Chase, narrated by Lucy Brownhill [an audiobook I began listening to during #FraterfestRAT 2019]Death on the River
Subtitle: A gripping and unputdownable English Murder Mystery
by Clare Chase
Source: Direct from Publisher
Narrator: Lucy Brownhill

Meet Tara Thorpe – she’s Cambridge Police’s newest recruit… but her dark past is never far behind her.

When a body is pulled from the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.

Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s secret past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…

When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?

Genres: Amateur Detective, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Thriller


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781786817402

ASIN: B07JFT6DSG

Also by this author: You Think You Know Me

Also in this series: Murder on the Marshes


Published by Bookouture, Hachette UK

on 22nd October, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 10 hours and 3 minutes (unabridged)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Tara Thrope Mysteries:

Published by: Bookouture (@bookouture)

an imprint of HachetteUK (@HachetteUK)

Murder on the Marshes by Clare ChaseDeath on the River by Clare ChaseDeath Comes to Call by Clare ChaseMurder on the Fens by Clare Chase

Murder on the Marshes (book one) | (see also Review)

Death on the River (book two)

Death Comes to Call (book three) ← local library purchased!

Murder on the Fens (book four)

More insights & ruminations forthcoming on this series to Jorie Loves A Story!

Converse via: #TaraThorpe, #Thriller and #Bookouture

About Ms Clare Chase

Clare Chase

Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books. She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Wednesday, 23 October, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, Amateur Detective, Audiobook, Blog Tour Host, Bookouture, Crime Fiction, England, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Indie Author, Investigative Reporter | Journalist, Modern Day, Psychological Suspense, Vulgarity in Literature

Book Review | “Queen’s Gambit” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book Two) by Bradley Harper In this sequel to “A Knife in the Fog” Doyle is not the centre of focus, Margaret Harkness takes the lead!

Posted Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. However, their imprints Seventh Street Books & Pyr were merged into Start Publishing in [2019] – wherein I had the pleasure of being approached by their new publicity team via Kaye Publicity in Spring 2019 wherein I was first introduced to the Spice Shop Mysteries as I was told about a forthcoming release [for June] was “Chai Another Day”. From there, I started to work with Kaye Publicity to continue reviewing Seventh Street Book titles and author releases I am both familiar with and/or are considered “new authors” to my readerly life.

As an aside, despite the fact Seventh Street Books has been bought out by Smart Publishing – all links to their website and social accounts have remained active and use the same urls. The new publisher has maintained all their sites and thereby, the transition was seamless for readers who wanted to keep in touch with the authors and the series they come to love by Seventh Street Books & Pyr!

I received a complimentary copy of “Queen’s Gambit” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Start Science Fiction) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On what I enjoyed in the pages of “A Knife in the Fog”:

This novel begins the series introducing us to all the key characters – from Professor Bell, to Arthur Conan Doyle and Margaret Harkness. As the series progresses forward – the characters shift in focus & share the lead.

A reflectively pensive voice gives us the impression the following account of an investigation into the Ripper murders of East London was in effect not only of profound impact on the narrator of this story (of whom I presumed immediately was Conan Doyle) but was in reality, an important marker of time for this person. It envelopes itself into a pertinent relationship of mind and arms; of a person who not only of equal mirth of enquiry and investigative instincts but of common interests and conveyances which were equally dynamic in their own rights. It is here – within the fragmented touchstones of what is yet to come where you start to distinguish the ‘voice’ of the novel A Knife in the Fog to being very decisively Holmesian.

Doyle, similar to Holmes does not suffer fools gently nor does he wish his personal or professional time to be waylaid but people who are less than honest with him on first meeting. It is here where you can infer how much Harper was researching his protagonist not just as the subject study to influence his own series but how Doyle himself could embody a lot of the characteristics we’ve all come to love in our beloved Holmes; than thus even more readily, it would be Harper who gives us a fuller advantage of seeing the inspiration behind Watson. The interesting bit here is of whom was the inspiring force behind both characters as your own mind might have readily adapted itself to thinking it was Doyle to Holmes and Dr Bell to Watson when the reality of the truth is a bit more intriguing to say the least! For my own capacity of interest – I did vacillate at first to make the distinction myself – as there are aspects of both men within both characters, however, there are firm clues towards whom is whom so to speak throughout the narrative Harper has delivered leading to the truer truth behind the designation of which current characters elude to the infamous ones!

Finding little details of historical influence and relevancy like this uncomfortable reaction in Doyle made it a joy to read A Knife in the Fog – as there are other small touches of where the past feels ever-present and where the narrative has a lovely tone and style of being decidedly British and Historical in scope. I believe it is this kind of detailed fine tuning in the story which help alight you into the era we’re being presented – it is lovely when you can find writers who are going the extra mile to give us a presentation of an era which we can find plausible and believable like what Mr Harper has done within his series. Although some of his words and phrasing is wickedly British, he does revert back to writing this in an American voice – I would have preferred it to be more British in the choices of words but blessedly it felt British by how he conveyed the backdrop of the setting and how he approached our immersion into Doyle’s life.

I, on the other hand, took an immediate liking to Margaret – she was her own person, owning her truths and her way of life with the confidence you’d expect from a woman of her nature. She did not apologise for her choices in life (nor should she) and she had an upper edge against Doyle as his presumptive assumptions about her were loudly present even if they were left unsaid aloud. Harkness is the kind of no-nonsense woman who was game for anything and had this zest for believing she could accomplish whatever she needed to simply due to the courage she had to believe in herself. Ironically, her dedication and her fortitude seemed lost on Doyle – at least at this first crossing of their paths.

You truly appreciate how Harper has sharpened our impression of Harkness, as my favourite passage which involves her and Doyle at this junction of the story is when she saves him from a would-be robber. The event itself isn’t a spoiler for the story but it is a clear representation of how foiled Doyle was in thinking he would have held an upper hand in this situation. I love how Harkness not only re-proves the point about how women can be independently secure in their beings but also be resourceful enough to intervene whenever danger arises. It was a classy look at how misconceptions in gender and how unnecessary misunderstandings within the classes of gender can put undo judgement against people. I personally felt it was a rather fitting sequence as it set a tone for how Doyle would view Harkness and how Harkness would become endeared to the reader.

I had a feeling I knew where A Knife in the Fog was directing me in regards to whom would become unmasked as the Ripper. Harper did something quite classic in how he developed the story-line, the characters and the persons of whom they encountered along the route of the story as it shifted forward – he kept you close to the dialogue, the discoveries and the case as it evolved through the investigation. All of which is brilliantly within the guise of the genre this story is set but he also did a hat trick from a magician’s bag of tricks – he re-directed your attention away from something you might have clued in on more readily if you weren’t equally distracted from addressing what it was you thought you had picked up on earlier in the story! Laughs. I actually was quite impressed how long the suspense lasted as it takes you straight (almost!) to the concluding chapters to where Harper knits together the conclusion (some) readers might not expect to be the solution to the mysterious identity of the Ripper. I, for one, felt it was a right proper choice – it staid within the scope of the journey we took walking beside Conan Doyle, Harkness and Bell whilst it also eluded to a reality you could find believable about this infamous case of crime.

It is in the final chapter wherein I felt reconnected to Conan Doyle – as for me, he held within his character (within the scope of the series) a bit more Holmesian attributes than I think Harper even realised he had etched into his nature. He might have meant for us to view Doyle differently but in the final chapter, there was a brilliant moment of recognition and also quiet acceptance of how this characterisation of Conan Doyle was a classic representation of why I have loved Sherlock Holmes. It is fitting truly, Harper has found his voice in fiction to be fulfilling a missing gap in stories which I believe the real Conan Doyle would have appreciated had he lived to see their publication.

-quoted from my review of A Knife in the Fog

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Review | “Queen’s Gambit” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book Two) by Bradley Harper In this sequel to “A Knife in the Fog” Doyle is not the centre of focus, Margaret Harkness takes the lead!Queen's Gambit
Subtitle: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness
by Bradley Harper
Source: Direct from Publisher

Spring, 1897. London. Margaret Harkness, now in her early forties, must leave England for her health but lacks the funds. A letter arrives from her old friend Professor Bell, her old comrade in the hunt for Jack the Ripper and the real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

Bell invites her to join him in Germany on a mysterious mission for the German government involving the loss of state secrets to Anarchists. The resolution of this commission leads to her being stalked through the streets of London by a vengeful man armed with a powerful and nearly silent air rifle who has both Margaret and Queen Victoria in his sights. Margaret finds allies in Inspector James Ethington of Scotland Yard and his fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who aspires to follow in Margaret's cross-dressing footsteps.

The hunt is on, but who is the hunter, and who the hunted as the day approaches for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee when the aged empress will sit in her open carriage at the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral? The entire British Empire holds its breath as the assassin, Margaret, and the Queen herself play for the highest of stakes with the Queen’s Gambit.

Genres: Amateur Detective, Classic Detective, Crime Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781645060017

Also by this author: A Knife in the Fog, A Knife in the Fog (Interview)

Also in this series: A Knife in the Fog, A Knife in the Fog (Interview)


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 17th September, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 288

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Margaret Harkness & Arthur Conan Doyle Mysteries:

per each installment either both are featured or only Harkness takes the lead

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley HarperQueen's Gambit by Bradley Harper

A Knife in the Fog (book one) – (see also review)

Queen’s Gambit (book two)

  • more installments are forthcoming!

This Summer I also featured an Interview with Mr Harper

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)
an imprint of Start Science Fiction, part of Start Publishing

Converse via: #QueensGambit, #HistNov and #HistFic OR #HistoricalThriller
Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate's Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and has been nominated for an 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, After the Canon, Amateur Detective, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Margaret Harkness, Paste Creative, Realistic Fiction, the Victorian era

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “The Butterfly Conspiracy” (Book One: A Merriweather & Royston Mystery) by Vivian Conroy

Posted Saturday, 14 September, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

After launching this lovely new feature of mine during [Autumn, 2018] it is a pleasure of joy to continue to bring #SaturdaysAreBookish as a compliment focus of my Twitter chat @SatBookChat. If you see the chat icon at the top of my blog (header bar) you can click over to visit with us. The complimentary showcases on my blog will reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of the chat are the stories I am reading which compliment the conversations.

#SaturdaysAreBookish throughout [2019] will be featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read across genre and point of interest. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – the stories I am reading might simply inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

I am excited about where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction. Here’s a lovely New Year full of new authors and their stories to celebrate!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I am quite active on the socially bookish side of the twitterverse (ie. #bookishTwitter); a lot of the writers and readers I enjoy conversing with on a yearly basis were first ‘met’ somewhere in a chat or a serendipitously lovely convo – either organised through a Twitter chat or a randomly engaged convo between them and I. I do not recollect how I first came to find Vivian Conroy or if in fact, she originally found me – I do know I immediately took to liking her Historical Fiction focused Twitter chat: #HistFicChat. Similar to my passion for #HistoricalFix (hosted and founded by Erin Lindsay McCabe – of which, due to her return to writing has been on sabbatical for two years) – this is a chat where Historical readers and writers can happily find each other, interact and chatter their bookish hearts out about the historic past whilst discovering new #mustreads!

She had mentioned to me she had two new stories being published to celebrate the fact she would have her 10th novel published in [2018]. She first mentioned to me about “The Butterfly Conspiracy” and then, “In Peppermint Peril”. I had meant to plan my reviews to be shared on my blog leading into the holiday season of [2018]; however, my health issues grew past what I could overcome and my reading life was dearly affected. I was thankful to share my review of “In Peppermint Peril” prior to re-reading “The Butterfly Conspiracy” at the end of Summer to coincide with featuring Ms Conroy during @SatBookChat wherein the main focus of the chat is this series whilst also talking a bit about her collective works from her Cosy Mysteries to her new Romance novel.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Butterfly Conspiracy” direct from the publisher Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What drew me into wanting to read “The Butterfly Conspiracy”:

I grew up on atmospheric mysteries and novels of suspense as much as I avidly watched films and tv series involving murder and intrigue! Everything from the Miss Marple series by Dame Christie to Murder, She Wrote and Alfred Hitchcock! The latter of whom granted me a deep appreciation for Gothic and Psychological Suspense! I love the pull of this kind of narrative and the grace of dissolving inside a story set in the historical past. The fact the lead character is a Victorian Zoologist reminded me why I loved Dr Julia Ogden (the ME) on Murdoch Mysteries – I love strong female characters in the historic past who are solving crimes!

Quite curiously, I remember vividly soaking inside this novel and writing reflective thoughts on its behalf – I wasn’t blogging my notes though, as I was using a word processing programme instead – and yet, when I went back to transcribe those notes back into my blog to share on this review, guess whose lost the file? I searched for over a month to find them – waiting out my recovery from a Winter virus and the leftover effects of migraines; to no avail. I had to resolve whatever those original reactions were – I could either re-tap into them when I went to re-read those passages or I would have to share wholly new, original takeaways which would start to curate on my review written more than a year after I first began reading The Butterfly Conspiracy.

For the reasons I’ve stated which first encouraged me into wanting to seek out this title – what was quite lovely of the experience of receiving it is having had the proper chance to dig into the heart of the story-line through a series of Twitter chats which sought out to delve into the back-story of how Ms Conroy wrote the novel but also, how she developed the back-histories of her characters, curating how the crime was centered inside the mystery and why she personally has a passion for writing Cosies.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “The Butterfly Conspiracy” (Book One: A Merriweather & Royston Mystery) by Vivian ConroyThe Butterfly Conspiracy
Subtitle: A Merriweather & Royston Mystery
by Vivian Conroy
Source: Direct from Publisher

In late Victorian times, when new inventions cause both excitement and terror, a mysterious death at a zoological lecture brings together two unlikely allies in a quest through London’s upper crust and underbelly to unravel the ingenious murder method and killer behind it.

Miss Merula Merriweather is not like other women her age: instead of hunting for a husband at balls and soirees she spends her time in a conservatory hatching exotic creatures. As the Royal Zoological Society won’t accept a woman’s accomplishments, she has her uncle Rupert take credit for her achievements. But at a zoological lecture, the guest of honor dies after contact with one of Merula’s butterflies, and Merula’s uncle is arrested for murder.

In an attempt to safeguard evidence to prove his innocence, Merula almost gets killed but for the timely interference of enigmatic Lord Raven Royston. Viewing natural history as a last resort to regain respectability lost by too many dubious business investments, Raven didn’t expect his first lecture to take a murderous turn. Feeling partially responsible because he encouraged Merula to release the gigantic butterfly from the glass case in which it was kept, Raven suggests they solve the puzzle of Lady Sophia’s sudden death together by looking closer at her relations with estranged friends, long suffering staff and the man groomed to be her heir, so close to her money and yet unable to touch any of it.

With the police looking for them, and every new discovery raising more questions than answers, especially about the murder method which left no traces of foul play on the body, Merula will have to risk her own life to get at the truth and save her uncle from the gallows in The Butterfly Conspiracy, Vivian Conroy’s enchanting series debut.

Genres: Amateur Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-68331-765-4

Published by Crooked Lane Books

on 7th August, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 297

Published By: Crooked Lane Books (@crookedlanebks)

Merriweather & Royston Mysteries:

The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian ConroyDeath Comes to Dartmoor by Vivian Conroy

The Butterfly Conspiracy – Book One

Death Comes to Dartmoor – Book Two
← released 13th August, 2019

Available Formats: Hardback and Ebook

Converse via: #Conroy10, #CosyMystery + #Victorian
and #MerriweatherAndRoystonMysteries

About Vivian Conroy

Having spent many afternoons as a teen on the Nile with Poirot or confronting sinister spinsters in sleepy English towns with Miss Marple, it was only natural Vivian Conroy would start writing mysteries of her own.

Atmospheric descriptions, well developed characters and clever plotting made several of her cozy mysteries #1 Amazon US and Canada bestsellers in multiple categories.

Her new Victorian mystery series features a female zoologist, allowing Vivian to share her fascination with natural history, a field where in the Victorian age costly deceit, questionable experiments and extraordinary theories offer great inspiration for a mystery writer’s fertile imagination.

Besides writing, Vivian enjoys hiking, collecting stationery and trying new desserts, especially if chocolate is involved.

Due note: She is also the hostess of a wicked brilliant Twitter chat: #HistFicChat which arrives in the twitterverse every Thursday at 3p NYC (EST) and 8p UK. This is the best way to interact with fellow Historical Fiction readers and writers outside of Jorie's other beloved #HistFic quarterly chat: #HistoricalFix!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Saturday, 14 September, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, 19th Century, Amateur Detective, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Botany, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Lady Detective Fiction, Science, the Victorian era, Zoology