Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody/book review

 

20161106_075045As you all know, I enjoy historical mysteries, and thanks to goodreads and the historical mystery group I’m in, I have found another series to relish. Dying in the Wool is the first of eight mysteries set in England after WWI which introduce Kate Shackleton.

Kate’s husband went missing four years before during WWI, and though most presume him to be dead, Kate has not given up hope for his safe return. In the meantime, Kate is trying to establish herself as a photographer, and she has also solved several mysteries involving missing persons. When a good friend, who is soon to be married, asks her to look for her father who went missing several years before, (wanting him to be there at her wedding), Kate agrees and is soon involved in learning the secrets of a mill town in an otherwise quiet Yorkshire village.

I usually try to avoid comparisons with other books as they are often misleading and disappointing. I don’t like to be told a book or an author is like another and after reading it, discover it’s not in any shape, form, or fashion like the one it has been compared to. In fact, it can take away whatever enjoyment I might have had if my expectations had been different. However, I do believe readers of both Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd will find this series entertaining in a similar vein. Having only read the first book, I can’t say how well the series continues, but I hope to find out soon.

How about you? Reading any new mysteries? Or have any of you read anything else by Frances Brody?

 

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Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber

mortal_arts_book_cover_mediumI greatly enjoy reading historical mysteries and having now read the second of the Lady Darby mysteries, I am excited to have found a new author to follow and read.

The Lady Darby mysteries are set in 1830’s Scotland and feature a young widow, Kiera, (Lady Darby) who has artistic talent and a cloud over her past. In this book, she is traveling to Edinburgh with her sister and her family when they make a stop at Dalmay House.

Kiera’s brother-in-law, Philip, has been asked by his aunt to join her family there because her daughter is engaged to be married to Michael, the owner and friend of Philip. His aunt does not approve  of the proposed marriage and desires Philip’s support. Kiera is happy to see Michael, a childhood friend of her own. His older brother, Will, served as an art tutor for Kiera when she was only 15. Since Will has been missing for over ten years,  Kiera has believed him to be dead. They are not long at Dalmay House, however, when she learns that Will is not only very much alive, but has been considered insane and dangerous. When a young woman who lives nearby goes missing, Will is the first to be suspected, and Kiera is determined to help her friend and to learn what is behind the insanity accusations.

Though this book can be read as a stand-alone, I do recommend starting with the first in the series: The Anatomist’s Wife. the_anatomists_wife_book_cover_mediumIn this book, you will learn more about Kiera’s background and be introduced to another character, Gage, whom Kiera assists in solving a murder, and also becomes attracted to. Of course, Gage appears in Mortal Arts as well and helps Kiera solve the mysteries surrounding Dalmay House.

What about you? What are some historical mysteries you have enjoyed and would recommend?

 

The Blood of Caesar by Albert A. Bell, Jr.

albert bellBlood of CaesarSmPtThe Blood of Caesar, A Second Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger is the second book in a series of historical mysteries taking place in the Roman Empire in the first century. This particular book is set in the summer of 83 A.D.

The author, Albert Bell has been a history professor, holds a PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as an MA from Duke, and MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological  Seminary. He has been writing since his high school years, first publishing in 1972.

Bell uses historical figures and events to set up his mysteries. The real Pliny the Younger wrote hundreds of letters which are still considered valuable for the time period. Pliny was also an eyewitness to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 B.C., and Pliny the Elder lost his life there.

In this second book, Pliny is first asked by the emperor Domitian to trace references to an unknown heir of Augustus Caesar from a part of a letter. He is then asked by a friend to look after a young woman whom the friend claims is a relative, but he will give Pliny no details of her family or explain why her life is in danger. It is not long before Pliny’s own life is in danger as he attempts to unravel the two mysteries without offending the emperor.

I enjoy reading historical fiction from all time periods, and reading mysteries in these different eras and locations adds a certain spice to the reading. Working on my own book of historical fiction, I’ve been reading with an eye as to how authors are able to add both historical detail and locale descriptions without overwhelming, or just flat out boring, the reader. Bell does a good job of describing the city of Rome, as well as the surrounding countryside. He has created engaging characters that help a reader understand the time period in which they live. Pliny has a good friend, Tacitus, (another character from history) who provides some humor and serves as a foil to Pliny’s somewhat staid behavior.

I can also recommend the first book in the series, All Roads Lead to Murder.  roads_murder(1) There are three more books in the series, and I’m looking forward to finding them and reading them as well. For my local friends, these first two books are available at both Union County Public Library and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.