Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

HFVBook Tour for Susan Spann’s TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA with GIVEAWAY!

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I’m a big fan of this historical mystery series, set in the 1500’s in Japan. I feel like I learn so much while reading each of these books! Along the way, the characters continue to develop and things happen in their lives. This was a great installment in the series (which actually can all stand alone as well). Lots of potential suspects when Buddhist priests, isolated in a temple during a horrific winter storm, are methodically being murdered one by one. It felt a little like Agatha Christie!

Thank you for my review e-copy and for making me part of the tour!

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TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA BY SUSAN SPANN

Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Seventh Street Books
Paperback & eBook; 256 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Hiro Hattori, Book #6

Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head up to Mount Koya, only to find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery, this time in a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

Praise for Trial on Mount Koya

“A page-turning and atmospheric historical mystery that beautifully melds fascinating Japanese history with a cleverly constructed mystery reminiscent of And Then There Were None—if the famous Agatha Christie mystery had been set in medieval Japan on a sacred mountaintop during a snowstorm.” —Gigi Pandian, USA Today–bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries

“Susan Spann is up front in saying that Trial on Mount Koya is an homage to Agatha Christie. Believe me, she does the great Dame Agatha proud. This excellent entry in Spann’s series of Hiro Hattori mysteries offers plenty of esoteric clues and red herrings that are fun to chase. Along the way, she even does Christie one better, giving readers a fascinating glimpse of life and religion in feudal Japan. This is a book sure to please Spann’s growing legion of fans as well as anyone who loves the work of Agatha Christie.” —William Kent Krueger, Edgar® Award–winning author of Sulfur Springs

About the Author

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Susan Spann is the award-winning author of the Hiro Hattori mystery novels, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo.

Susan began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest.

Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (National and Sacramento chapters), the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, photography, and hiking. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and two cats, and travels to Japan on a regular basis.

For more information, please visit Susan Spann’s website. You can find Susan on Facebook and Twitter (@SusanSpann), where she founded the #PubLaw hashtag to provide legal and business information for writers.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 3
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 4
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog

Thursday, July 5
Interview at T’s Stuff
Feature at The Bookworm

Friday, July 6
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Sunday, July 8
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Tuesday, July 10
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, July 11
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, July 12
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, July 13
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, July 16
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Tuesday, July 17
Guest Post at Writing the Renaissance

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, July 20
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, July 21
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, July 24
Feature at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, July 26
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, July 27
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, July 30
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, August 1
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 2
Review at A Book Geek

Friday, August 3
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Sunday, August 5
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 6
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, August 8
Review at Reading the Past

Giveaway!

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 copies of Trial on Mount Koya! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Click below to enter:

https://gleam.io/KPAPn/trial-on-mount-koya

 

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Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

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I’m always thrilled when Net Galley offers a title in a series that I enjoy. Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell’s series are mysteries that feature the young, intelligent wife of Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes plays his part, Russell is the protagonist. They are cleverly plotted and I always find I learn a little something while reading them.

This latest one takes place in Venice. Holmes and Russell have gone there seeking a missing aunt of a friend. There are LOTS of themes in this book – women’s roles, depression and mental health, sexual abuse, sexuality, treatment in hospitals, rise of fascism, etc. I found it all rather compelling and fascinating. Adding to the mix were real characters, like Cole Porter and his wife Linda, along with Mussolini. I think this is my favorite Mary Russell mystery yet.

This would be a great book club book as there is much to discuss, too.

Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!

From Amazon:

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are back in Laurie R. King’s New York Times bestselling series—“the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today” (Lee Child).

With Mrs. Hudson gone from their lives and domestic chaos building, the last thing Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, need is to help an old friend with her mad and missing aunt.

Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, since the loss of her brother and father in the Great War. And although her mental state seemed to be improving, she’s now disappeared after an outing from Bethlem Royal Hospital . . . better known as Bedlam.

Russell wants nothing to do with the case—but she can’t say no. And at least it will get her away from the challenges of housework and back to the familiar business of investigation. To track down the vanished woman, she brings to the fore her deductive instincts and talent for subterfuge—and of course enlists her husband’s legendary prowess. Together, Russell and Holmes travel from the grim confines of Bedlam to the winding canals and sun-drenched Lido cabarets of Venice—only to find the foreboding shadow of Benito Mussolini darkening the fate of a city, an era, and a tormented English lady of privilege.

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Death at the Selig Studios by Frances McNamara

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The early summer of 1909 finds Emily Cabot eagerly anticipating a relaxing vacation with her family. Before they can depart, however, she receives news that her brother, Alden, has been involved in a shooting death at the Selig Polyscope silent movie studios on Chicago’s northwest side. She races to investigate, along with her friend Detective Henry Whitbread. There they discover a sprawling backlot, complete with ferocious jungle animals and the celluloid cowboys Tom Mix and Broncho Billy. As they dig deeper into the situation, they uncover furtive romantic liaisons between budding movie stars and an attempt by Thomas Edison to maintain his stranglehold over the emerging film industry. Before the intrepid amateur sleuth can clear her brother’s name she faces a serious break with the detective; a struggle with her adolescent daughter, who is obsessed with the filming of the original Wizard of Oz movie; and threats upon her own life. (via Amazon)

This is book 7 of the Emily Cabot mysteries, and I love this entertaining and well-plotted series that blends interesting facts from history with a lively fictional protagonist. Each volume can stand alone. Emily finds herself mixed up with film makers in Chicago in this installment. To be honest, I didn’t realize that the early film industry was in part in Chicago before it came to California. At the end of this post I’ve included a You Tube link of a Selig Studios rendition of The Wizard of Oz from 1910, the movie they were filming in this novel. It certainly is different from the movie version most of us grew up with!

Ms. McNamara’s writing is always a treat and she often can write a mystery that I can’t figure out. This novel was yet another winner from her.

Thank you for my review copy, sent from the publishers: Allium Press of Chicago.

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THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST – A Molly Murphy Mystery – by Rhys Bowen

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My publicist friends at Minotaur books offered me a review e-copy of the latest Molly Murphy mystery and of course I said yes!! I believe I have read all of the other Molly mysteries. I love a historical mystery, and I love reading about New York at the turn of the century. This time, Molly, husband Daniel, and baby Liam are headed out to Connecticut for the holidays at a house filled with sadness from the loss of a child ten years before. Molly herself has recently lost a child through miscarriage and she is still healing. As always, there’s a realness to these characters that make them very believable and easy to relate to.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house’s atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple’s young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother’s pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on. Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. “I’m Charlotte,” she says. “I’ve come home.”

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While I do love these books, I did find this wrap-up a bit hard to believe, but I liked it anyway. It’s Christmas time — give me happy endings!!

Thank you for my review e-copy!

 

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CROWNED AND DANGEROUS by Rhys Bowen

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I love the Her Royal Spyness mysteries, so I was thrilled to see that a new one was coming out this week: CROWNED AND DANGEROUS.

Here is the overview from Net Galley:

Description

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HFVBT Book Blast and GIVEAWAY for AS DEATH DRAWS NEAR by Anna Lee Huber

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Today I’m blasting it up for a new historical fiction mystery by Anna Lee Huber: AS DEATH DRAWS NEAR. It’s on my TBR list!

As Death Draws Near (Lady Darby Mystery #5)
by Anna Lee Huber

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Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Berkley
Harcover & eBook; 336 Pages

Series: Lady Darby Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery

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The latest mystery from the national bestselling author of A Study in Death tangles Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage in a dangerous web of religious and political intrigue.

July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | IndieBound

Praise for the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Riveting…Huber deftly weaves together an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting for a book you won’t want to put down.”—Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author

“[A] history mystery in fine Victorian style!”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author

“[A] fascinating heroine…A thoroughly enjoyable read!”—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author

“[A] clever heroine with a shocking past and a talent for detection.”—Carol K. Carr, national bestselling author

About the Author

03_Anna Lee Huber

Anna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana, and when not working on her next book she enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.

For more information please visit www.annaleehuber.com. Connect with Anna Lee Huber on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

But wait! There’s more!

A Giveaway!

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber, please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

https://gleam.io/YtklW/as-death-draws-near-book-blast

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HFVBTour for DEATH SITS DOWN TO DINNER by Tessa Arlen

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I’m thrilled to be part of the tour for Tessa Arlen’s new mystery: DEATH SITS DOWN TO DINNER. I really enjoyed her DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN, which I also reviewed for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:  My Review

Here’s the overview:

02_Death Sits Down to Dinner

Death Sits Down to Dinner (Lady Montfort Mystery #2)
by Tessa Arlen

Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Minotaur Books
Hardcover & Ebook; 320 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery

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Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND | KOBO

Advance Praise

“Despite Clementine’s luxurious lifestyle, she’s got a head on her shoulders . . .and is as cagey as she is charming. A neatly crafted whodunit dripping with diamonds, titles and scandal . . .” -Kirkus Reviews

“The close, mutually respectful partnership between Clementine and Edith will remind Dorothy Sayers’s fans of the relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter, his manservant. Arlen does a good job of depicting a period when class distinctions have become blurred by new money and more-relaxed manners. The plot, which includes a slew of red herrings, builds to a startling denouement.” -Publisher’s Weekly

“VERDICT Real-life Edwardian personalities abound in this period historical, and the upstairs/downstairs focus delivers a clash of temperaments. This title is bound to appeal to fans of historicals set in this period and of such authors as Rhys Bowen and Ashley Weaver.” -Library Journal

About the Author

03_Tessa Arlen

TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

For more information please visit Tessa Arlen’s website. Read Tessa Arlen’s blog atRedoubtable Edwardians. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, andGoodreads.

Subscribe to Tessa Arlen’s Newsletter.

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Here I am!

I love Ms. Arlen’s characters of Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson, and I love the cleverness of the plots of her books. The Edwardian period is a favorite of mine, and she has great attention to detail. I have to say that I had little bit of trouble keeping all the characters straight for the first 50 pages of the book. Thankfully there is a “cast of characters” available at the start of the novel!

If you like cozies, Edwardian “Downton type” themes, and fun female characters, along with a clever plot, then pick up a copy of one of Tessa’s books (or even pick up them all!).

Thank you for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!

Discover a New Blog via the Blog Tour Schedule!

Monday, March 28
Review at Laura’s Interests
Interview at Books and Benches

Tuesday, March 29
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Historical Fiction Addicts

Wednesday, March 30
Interview at AustenProse

Thursday, March 31
Review at Buried Under Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, April 1
Review at Reading Is My SuperPower

Monday, April 4
Review at Reading the Past
Spotlight at Seize the Words: Books in Review

Tuesday, April 5
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, April 6
Review at Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, April 8
Review at A Holland Reads

Monday, April 11
Review at The Absurd Book Nerd

Tuesday, April 12
Interview at The Absurd Book Nerd

Wednesday, April 13
Review at Room With Books

Thursday, April 14
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, April 15
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, April 18
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, April 19
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, April 20
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, April 21
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, April 22
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Monday, April 25
Review & Giveaway at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, April 26
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, April 27
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, April 29
Review at To Read, Or Not to Read

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Review: Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue – a Gaslight Mystery by Victoria Thompson

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If you know me, you know I love the cozy mystery series of “Gaslight Mysteries”, following the adventures of midwife Sarah Brandt in turn-of-the-century NYC. A new one came out at Christmas time and my husband bought it for me – MURDER ON ST. NICHOLAS AVENUE.

Unlike the former novels – all of which I’ve read – this one has Sarah and Frank off to Europe on their honeymoon with the house and children left in charge of assistant Maeve, with Mrs. Malloy and Mrs. Decker (Sarah’s mother) assisting. When a family friend comes to them because she feels her daughter is unjustly accused of murdering her husband, Maeve and the rest of the family – along with friendly police officer Gino – know they must work together to solve the mystery. Of course nothing is simple and the events keep the characters and this reader guessing right up to the last chapters!

I enjoyed this installment in the series, which Ms. Thompson mentions in the afterward she was asked to write for the holidays. Seeing further character development of some of the minor characters (e.g. Mrs. Malloy, Mr. Decker, Gino) was gratifying. I was never fond of the Felix Decker character, but he was much more multi-dimensional after reading this novel.

The characters hint at the fact that they will work together on future mysteries for the “Malloy Detective Agency” so I trust that Ms. Thompson has many more creative plot lines in store for us!

If you like historical cozies, this is a series for you. Each title can stand alone, but reading them in order is a treat as you get to know the characters along the way.

Find this title at a bookstore, library, or online – below is to Amazon where I am an Associate:

Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue: Gaslight Mystery (A Gaslight Mystery)

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Review: A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH by Charles Finch

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A while ago I received this from Net Galley. I love Sherlock Holmes and I was drawn to this mystery which sounded like a mystery from the same time period:

Description (via Net Galley)

On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.
One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead – an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl’s death. When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again – disturbingly close to home?
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I loved this book! Lenox is a great character — reminds me of Holmes but different (quirky but not overly so). I really like his friendship with Lady Jane and hope that this continues in the next books into a relationship. I liked his doctor sidekick (Thomas) and found him a somewhat tortured and interesting character, too.
This mystery was hard to figure out and I didn’t guess it before the end.
Overall, a fun read and highly recommended to those who like Victorian mysteries!
Thank you for my review copy.
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Quick Review: A Maggie Hope Mystery — Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

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I love the Maggie Hope cozy mystery series! Maggie is a plucky and intelligent WWII coder and mathematician who has adventures and solves mysteries. Maggie is so realistic, though, that I just love her stories and love learning more about WWII and women who worked in the war department in England.

In this installment, Maggie is headed to America with Churchill and his entourage and she will be meeting up with the Roosevelts, and particularly with Eleanor. However, Maggie has hardly arrived when a young woman is found dead of an apparent suicide and with a note implicating Eleanor in her death. Maggie is determined to find out who is behind this gruesome act and to set things right. At the same time, there are subplots with Maggie’s friends and Maggie’s sometimes hapless romantic life. All in all, it was an enjoyable story that I read straight through as I didn’t want to put it down!

I got my ARC through Net Galley — thank you for the chance to read and review it!

Find yours at an Indie near you — your local library — or online!

(google image of Ms. MacNeal and book cover)

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