Category: Amateur Detective

Book Review on behalf of an Edgar Awards nominee for 2019 | “A Knife in the Fog” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book One) by Bradley Harper

Posted Friday, 26 April, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

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

Acquired Book By: Last year, ahead of “A Knife in the Fog” being released I came across the author on Twitter – as Bradley Harper started following me. It was at this exact moment where I was starting to research new and upcoming book releases from one of my favourite publishers of dramatic Crime Fiction – Seventh Street Books – finding amongst the releases, there was a new author of after canon stories featuring a narrative styling similar to Sherlock Holmes but uniquely its own variant within the canon of interest as this new series was featuring Conan Doyle rather than Holmes himself. The uniqueness of the approach is also by bridging in the character Professor Bell which would also draw an eye towards a crafty nod to the traditional Holmes/Watson partnership.

I had originally requested this title for review consideration however, I hadn’t realised Seventh Street Books was about to undergo a sale and reacquistation by Smart Publishing; of whom has taken on this imprint and Pyr both of which were once under Prometheus Books. I came to know the imprints by being a reviewer for the parent publishing company of Prometheus Books wherein I request and review books throughout an eclectic subject focus within the branches of Science and Mathematics which interest me to research for personal enrichment as well as the pursuit of knowledge within those fields.

Thereby, earlier this year [2019] I submitted a purchase request for a paperback copy of “A Knife in the Fog” whilst I concurrently attempted to listen to the audiobook version. As I had some hiccups in my listening rotations through my Scribd subscription, I did a free trial of Libro.FM (for seeking audiobooks by giving Indie bookshoppes credit for those purchases – where I listed Powells (Portland, Oregon) as my bookshoppe of choice) allowing me to download a copy of “A Knife in the Fog” on MP3. I began listening to “A Knife in the Fog” on audiobook in-line with developing questions to ask Mr Harper during a phone interview (which I conducted in late March, 2019) wherein I discovered I loved his approach to writing this series.

Ahead of posting my review on behalf of the story, I wanted to read the print edition of “A Knife in the Fog” which had recently come into my library as my purchase request was not only accepted but fulfilled. There were some key parts of the story I wanted to re-read over and I also wanted to dig into the written aspects of the story-line outside of the scope of the audiobook.

Although my main interest was to seek out an interview with Mr Harper based on my readings and listening hours of “A Knife in the Fog” my ruminations on behalf of the audiobook and print edition are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. The Press Materials I received by Mr Harper’s virtual authorly assistant Stephanie @ Paste Creative are being used with permission on both this review and on my forthcoming interview with Mr Harper as dual showcase of the story, the series and the writer’s approach to the craft of Crime Fiction.

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Why reading after canons about Sherlock Holmes and/or Conan Doyle appeal to me as a reader inasmuch as why I love Historical Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers:

I personally feel as if Crime Fiction has a soft spot in my heart and mind; for as long as I can remember I’ve been claiming Mysteries, Suspense and Thrillers as being my most keenly interested section of television teleplays and dramas of interest. Counter to that pursuit, are the novels – spilt between the Cosies I personally adore and have a deep affection for devouring and the more intriguingly brilliant and layered Cosy Historical Mysteries which have passionately become a favourite pursuit of my readerly life since I became a book blogger.

Adjacent to those inclinations, I am also most intrigued with the Historical Suspense and/or Thriller – there are a few of my interests in these kinds of stories which are on the ‘outer edge’ of my tolerance levels for visuals and/or inclusive scenes which are relevant to the story/series itself. Those I happily refer and reference as “Hard Boiled” entries for a point of reference here on my blog as well as a marker of interest in my own pursuit of the stories themselves.

When it comes to chasing down television dramas in Crime Fiction as much as Fictional series of the same nature, I have a profound affection for those writers who give keen insight into Forensic Science, Forensic Pathology and Forensic Investigative Techniques or the Psychology of the Crime through Forensic applications on the psyche.  What is interesting about studying Forensics through Fiction is how crafty writers have to become to keep us not only invested in their stories but for giving us a truism of realism within the boundaries of their stories. When they go to infer a step into their worlds – a world they are illuminating to become the mainstay of interest for a series in development for the new reader whose found their words – they are giving us a prime example of what is become expected of their collective works in future volumes.

This is why if a writer of Crime Fiction can capture me straight out of the gate – by their voice, their style or their world – over and beyond their lead character(s), supporting cast and the delivery of the suspenseful bits interwoven into the back-stories – they will have found a loyal reader in me for the life of their series*. (*) co-dependent on the fact they do not disappoint my palette of interest in future installments.

When it comes to Sherlock Holmes and the after canons of his stories – I have a very, short list of interest – at which you will find the Mary Russell stories at the very top as Laurie R. King was the first author I had discovered in 2009 who was writing a level of intuitive intention regarding Holmes which felt naturally intrinsic of the character I had remembered. Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer arrived a bit lateron but was a bit of a harder sell for me being that Enola’s story-lines were slightly a hit/miss for me but the character of Enola was intriguing enough to where I wanted to read more of her adventures. With Mary Russell – I was immediately smitten by her and Holmes at this junction in his life and thereby, wooed immediately into the world King had set out for us to discover.

I am quite critical about after canons, stories inspired by classical novelists and sequel authors – notwithstanding my interests in Conan Doyle, there are my inquisitive pursuits of chasing down stories of this nature within the embodiment of Jane Austen and the re-tellings of Jane Eyre.

What I am constantly seeking out is a certain layer of conveyance of presence, of loyalty to the authentic voice of the inspirational character in question and a purposeful dedication of not just honouring the past but of elevating the tone of the new incantation against the old. I love finding authors who have their own unique approach to re-writing a familiar character and giving us a newfound way of appreciating them through their new variant of interest in the here and now. Thus, what captured my attention with the Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle Mysteries was simply this – how a pathologist was motivated to write these stories based on his own interest in Holmes and the writer behind Holmes (Conan Doyle) led him into a portal which granted us an immersive look at how Doyle himself might have approached investigative interests which re-lead us to appreciate how he created Holmes and Watson.

Overall, what I love most about Holmes and Watson in the traditional sense is the camaraderie of their relationship – their zest for intellectual dissection of the facts and their pursuit of uncovering the sociological implications of what is fuelling the crimes in which they investigate. They are uniquely timeless in how they inter-relate to one another but also how they approached their techniques – leaning on the intellect and the divisiveness of their research talents, they uncovered the criminology of their cases because of how they approached their ability to sleuth.

My hopes for this novel and the subsequent series ranked high – I was dearly hoping this would become another ‘beloved’ entry in my pursuit of Seventh Street Books and their Crime Fiction stories – whilst my love and appreciation for Holmes and Watson was inspiring me to take a chance on this new entry into a Holmesian niche of after canon story-lines. Not that this is a traditional after canon in the sense that there is an influence of Holmesian styling but it is not effectively a re-telling or a reincarnation of that canon per se but as you read or listen to A Knife in the Fog you’ll find Holmes and Watson have materalised anew in a different vehicle of interest altogether.

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Book Review on behalf of an Edgar Awards nominee for 2019 | “A Knife in the Fog” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book One) by Bradley HarperA Knife in the Fog
Subtitle: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle
by Bradley Harper
Source: Purchase REQ | local library, Purchased | Personal Library, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another "crime story." Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.

Once there, he is offered one month's employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a "consultant" in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell--Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes--agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.

Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633884861

ASIN: B07HKJ71X5

Genres: After Canons, Amateur Detective, Classic Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Suspense


Setting: London, England, UK


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 2nd October, 2018

Format: Audiobook | mp3, Trade Paperback

Pages: 288

Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes (unabridged)

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley HarperA Knife in the Fog (audiobook) by Bradley Harper

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

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!

Converse via: #AKnifeInTheFog, #HistNov and #HistFic OR #HistoricalMystery
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

A Knife in the Fog was nominated for
an Edgar Award in 2019 for “Best First Novel”

Initially, I was going to do this review ‘ahead’ of the Edgars announcing their winners, as I wanted to help re-highlight the novel to an audience of Mystery appreciators who might be seeking their next wicked good Historical Suspense – however, due to everything going on the past month and a half, I’ve been a bit behind in my readings and in my reviews. As a result, I shifted this review forward a bit to where I could await the announcements – per the author’s suggestion to run this instead on Friday after the winner’s were officially declared. Although, Mr Harper did not win the Edgar I felt it befitted the nomination and blessedly showcased a publisher I personally love for dramatic Crime Fiction! Harper is amongst a list of novelists I turn to whenever I want to read a crime narrative by this publisher – Susan Spann, Larry D. Sweazy, Jennifer Kincheloe and Terry Shames round out the list (thus far known as I am going to be reading new authors this year to see which of them whet my thirst of joy for Mysteries).

On that note, I am thankful to announce I’m discovering the Cosy Spice Shop Mysteries this late Spring/early Summer by Leslie Budewitz – whilst I am eagerly in wait for the seventh Hiro Hattori novel “Ghost of the Bamboo Road” by Susan Spann; the third Anna Blanc Mystery “The Body in Griffith Park” by Jennifer Kincheloe and the sequel to “A Knife in the Fog” – “The Queen’s Gambit” by Bradley Harper.

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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.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 26 April, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, After the Canon, Amateur Detective, Arthur Conan Doyle, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, 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

Book Blitz w/ Notes during #HistoricalMondays | Celebrating “The Golden Hour” (The Lady Evelyn Mysteries, Book Four) by Malia Zaidi

Posted Monday, 8 April, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I am spotlighting this during #Historical Mondays:

You might be curious why I hosting a book blitz rather than a book review during my feature for showcasing Historical narratives on Mondays? The keen reason for this today is the fact when I read the premise of this Cosy Historical Mystery series – I had a feeling I had stumbled across my next #mustread Cosy series and I wanted to take the chance to feature it during a #HistoricalMondays celebration ahead of being able to read it myself! A bit similar in a way to spotlighting and/or discussing books during #WaitingOnWednesday but this is strictly for the Historical narratives across genre which speak to my readerly heart and are the kinds of stories I am wicked thankful are being published for readers like me who can’t devour enough #HistFic!

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Book Blitz w/ Notes during #HistoricalMondays | Celebrating “The Golden Hour” (The  Lady Evelyn Mysteries, Book Four) by Malia ZaidiThe Golden Hour (Spotlight)
by Malia Zaidi

Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch.

Adding to the tension in the house a neighbor has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder? A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park’s May Day celebration awakens Evelyn’s sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family.

What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own. With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1543959499

Genres: Amateur Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Self Published Author

on 26th March, 2019

This is a self-published series through BookBaby!

Lady Evelyn Mysteries series banner provided by HFVBTs

A Poisonous Journey (book one)

A Darker Shore (book two)

The Study of Silence (book three)

The Golden Hour (book four)

Converse via: #LadyEvelynMysteries + #HistoricalMysteries
as well as #CosyMysteries and #HistoricalFiction

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

I was overjoyed seeing this is a self-published series through Book Baby as I used to participate in the Book Baby Twitter chats about self-publishing through their platform. It was one of the platforms I felt next to LuLu which worked well for authors and over the years, I’ve been blessed to read a few releases by Book Baby. I was first introduced to Book Baby though through my admiration and love of #CDBaby which is part of the parent company.

About Malia Zaidi

Malia Zaidi

Malia Zaidi is the author of The Lady Evelyn Mysteries. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Oxford. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides vicariously (if temporarily) in countries around the world.

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Posted Monday, 8 April, 2019 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 20th Century, Amateur Detective, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, the Nineteen Hundreds, the Roaring Twenties

Audiobook Review | “Lost in the Light” (Book One: The Dori O Paranormal Mysteries) written and narrated by the author Mary Castillo

Posted Wednesday, 30 January, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of [2016] during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Lost in the Light” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions in exchange for an honest review. This complimentary copy I received is part of the ‘Adopt an Audiobook’ programme where reviewers are given a 90 day window to listen and review the book. I received this audiobook in December, 2018 wherein I had planned to listen to this before the close of the year, however, with a five week virus I had to wait til I recovered my energies to hear the story this January, 2019. This differs from a blog tour which has a more set schedule of posting. The audiobooks are offered to ‘adopt’ for review consideration and are given to readers to gauge their opinions, impressions and insight into how the audiobook is resonating with listeners. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What drew me to listening to this particular audiobook:

I’ve been seeking out different kinds of Mysteries for most of [2018] – including at tailend of the year, wherein I scouted out such lovelies as Joy Avon’s In Peppermint Peril; David Rosenfelt’s Deck the Hounds; Maia Chance’s Naughty on Ice; as well as the latest Claire Chase Thriller Death on the River, M.B. Shaw’s Murder at the Mill and Vivian Conroy’s The Butterfly Conspiracy – of which I am still continuing to listen and/or read as I lost the hours to enjoy them fully due to being ill before, during and after Christmas! 

I love Mysteries, Thrillers and novels of Suspense but what made each of these quite uniquely lovely is how uniquely individual they are as ‘stories within their own series’. I had hoped by January I could dig back inside my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense novels – those lovely page-turners I share a passion of reading with my Mum but suffice it to say, most of January was either spent recovering my energy and stamina lost during the virus to end all viruses; transitioning through two migraines (blessedly one low grade and one slightly supernova) and at least three severe allergy attacks – to the brink that January just felt muddled.

I had such a lovely outline of what I wanted to accomplish via LibraryThing and I was adding to that revolving list of #nextreads with what I wanted to be listening too throughout the month as I am still attempting to offset what I read in print with what I listen to as an #AudioReads as I’m striving towards a spilt of 70/40 between both formats. I finally had to realise somewhere along the route of the month, resting and being offline was just a better course of action for my own self-care than to attempt to read the stories which were keenly interesting me to seek out. Thereby, it became one of the least read months I’ve had as a book blogger but the stories I was able to listen to or read were rather enjoyable.

Which brings me to this adopted audiobook – I was dearly curious about what I would inside as I do have a particular eye on serial fiction – especially when it comes to Crime Fiction as there is something intriguing about getting to re-visit a series vs reading a one-off. Since this one is a merger of the Paranormal with the Investigative – it was a story I was curiously happy to finally get a chance to settle inside and soak in the story-line!

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Audiobook Review | “Lost in the Light” (Book One: The Dori O Paranormal Mysteries) written and narrated by the author Mary CastilloLost in the Light
by Mary Castillo
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Mary Castillo

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B01N37B8CH

Genres: Amateur Detective, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction


Published by Reina Books

on 27th January, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 8 hours, 52 minutes (unabridged)

Published By: Reina Books

Mary Castillo | Site | LibraryThing | GoodReads | @MCastilloWrites

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 30 January, 2019 by jorielov in Amateur Detective, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction