Tag Archives: Historical Mystery

Murder on the Last Frontier, by Cathy Pegau

16 Feb

Some time ago, the inestimable Miss Bates talked about this novel. I made a mental note that it sounded very interesting, so when the opportunity presented itself, in the form of a sale, I snagged it.

Then it languished in the TBR Cordillera of Doom for months, until I realized it fit the theme for SLWendy’s TBR Challenge for February, as I had not read anything by Ms Pegau yet.

I have only one warning for this book: it is not, strictly speaking, genre romance. There is no HEA, or even HFN. It is, however, a well written historical mystery, with romance elements.

Murder on the Last Frontier, by Cathy Pegau

Two things this novel has going for it from the get go: it’s set in the Alaska Territory during the Prohibition, and the heroine is a journalist and suffragette in her mid-twenties.

Charlotte Brody may be single, but she’s not an innocent, cossetted, naÏve little thing–which is crucial to me given what she does. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the first in a series (three titles currently out).

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The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

16 Mar

thedaughteroftime(I don’t want to jinx myself (hey, it’s only March, after all), but the reviewing mojo seems to have come back with a vengeance.)

As I mentioned yesterday, the theme for this month’s TBR Challenge was a recommended book. As I have piles and piles, and piles of recommended books in the many valleys and peaks of my TBR, an utter ’embarrassment of riches,’  the real problem lay in finding one that would grab me.

Did I mention most of the books in the TBR of Doom are there due to recommendations?

A couple of months ago, if that, Marilyn (aka MFOB), mentioned on twitter that this book was on sale, and recommended it. I grabbed it, but, still suffering from reader slump, had let it sit in the digital TBR, one more forgotten title. Then, last week as I was strolling through my digital library, I saw the cover, re-read the blurb, and started reading.

Thank you, Marilyn, what a wonderful read!

Two caveats: first, this novel shouldn’t need yet another glowing review–not for nothing, the UK Crime Writers’ Association named it as number one in the Top 100 Crime Novels of all time back in 1990, and it’s number four in the Mystery Writers of America Top 100 Mystery Novels of all Time, published in 1995 (see both lists in full here). Unfortunately, Ms Tey’s work is not as widely known as one might wish, and so, here we are.

Second, wherever you stand on the issue of whether Richard III was the quintessential Wicked Uncle or not, reading this book is likely to, at the very least, push you to learn more about this period in history, and at most, convert you into a fervent Ricardian.

The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

While you really don’t need to know much about The War of the Roses, it helps to have a basic idea of the succession (the digital edition does have two handy family trees at the beginning, but it’s not as easy for me to flip between them and the text, as it is on a print edition. YMMV, of course).

The second, this novel is entirely an exercise in deduction. There are no chases, interrogations, or, indeed, any action. Our intrepid hero, an experienced and successful detective, is immobilized, strapped to, and in traction, on a hospital bed, for about ninety percent of the story.

Here, have a blurb:

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.

The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.

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A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

20 Jan

A Morbid Taste for BonesA few months ago, I don’t remember exactly how or where (though I am pretty sure it was during the many discussions of the puppies and the Hugos), it was brought to my attention that the author of the Brother Cadfael novels was, in fact, a woman.

On impulse, the next time I happened to visit the one remaining used bookstore within fifty miles, I bought over half a dozen of the Cadfael Chronicles, thinking it was about time I read at least one of the books that helped popularize historical mysteries.

Unfortunately, by then I was suffering form the most horrific reading slump known to woman, and so the books have been languishing in the many peaks and ridges of ye olde TBR Cordillera.

Until Saturday.

On Saturday, I grabbed the first title and didn’t let go until I was done.

So here it is, my first TBR Challenge review of 2016.¹

A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

I am not exactly sure how I had managed to keep myself innocent of all things Brother Cadfael. I mean, I knew that there was a television series, apparently very good, but that was pretty much it.

Now, I’m kicking myself over and over–what. an. idiot! I’ve been, not reading these novels!

Here’s the blurb, from my battered paper copy:
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