The Infidel Stain (MJ Carter, 2016)

infidel stain

First, an announcement!  The blog has been online for a full year now.  Thank you to everyone who reads these posts and follows the blog.  Now, onward to more biblioventuring!

Why did you choose this book?

I won this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, in audiobook format.

What’s it about?

Blake and Avery were comrades in the British military during the occupation of India.  This is the second novel in the series, and I did not read the first, entitled The Strangler Vine.  Blake works as a private inquiry agent and dons various disguises to investigate a variety of crimes.  Avery has settled into domestic life, with his wife expecting their first child at their country estate.  The two are reunited to dig into the matter of a pair of printers, grotesquely murdered and arranged very specifically over their presses.

Categories

Historical mystery, London, 1800s

Other recommended reads?

This is a harder question for me, since I don’t typically read mysteries involving a pair of detectives.  The best British historical mystery I’ve read lately was A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn, which may be one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Review

Admittedly, my perspective of this book may be a bit different since I listened to it, rather than reading it.  That being said, I struggled with understanding the narrator at points and found some of his accents rather odd.  More importantly, this was a novel that involved an extremely large quantity of dialogue and rather less action and investigation.  A very “talky” mystery.  A good read, but not one of those you are compelled to finish in one sitting.

Up next?

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

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These Shallow Graves (Jennifer Donnelly, 2015)

these shallow

Why did you choose this book? 

The synopsis and cover intrigued me.  It should also be said that this cover is misleading.  It is not a horror novel but rather a kind of cute teen historical mystery with a tad bit of forensic science.

What’s it about?

Jo Montfort has it all – a supportive family, social status as one of the elites of 1890s New York, one of the most desirable bachelors courting her…and yet she’s a fierce and independent young lady.  While away at finishing school, her father is found dead, presumably from the accidental discharge of his revolver.  But Jo finds this hard to believe and as she investigates, she learns that he was murdered.  Through her new friendship with reporter Eddie Gallagher and city morgue employee Oscar Rubin, she tries to find her father’s murderer and bring him/her to justice, even though it means scouring the underbelly of New York.  As the other partners in Van Houten Shipping start falling to the murderer’s knife, time is running out.

Categories

Teen fiction, historical mystery

Other recommended reads?

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott features a girl on a mission, though in a fantasy world and with much more athletic prowess.  A better match would be A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn, a historical mystery with a kick-ass heroine and one of my favorite reads so far this year.

Review

I thought this was quite a good book.  As I said earlier, the cover is a bit misleading.  That being said, I did not identify the murderer or motive before Jo.  I did find her a bit annoying sometimes in her insistence on being taken to the heart of the matter, regardless of the risk to herself or her companions.  The forensic science was well-done and believable, but the author’s note made her sound a bit crazy (characters speaking to her and whatnot).  The major issue I had with Jo is that she is too naive to know what a brothel and madam are, yet she has no problem kissing Eddie…

Up next?

Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville (I think anyway)

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue (Piu Marie Eatwell, 2015)

dead duke

Why did you choose this book?

With a title like that, why wouldn’t you choose this book?

What’s it about?

In the late 1800s, a woman came forward claiming that her son was the heir to a dukedom.  According to her, the notoriously eccentric 5th duke of Portland (who lived in tunnels underneath his family home) led a double life as TC Druce, owner of a bazaar.  She alleged that the duke faked the death of Druce when he became tired of a second persona, and that if Druce’s grave was opened, no body would be found.  She applied to the courts to open the tomb and, as a result, to prove that her son was the rightful duke, being the 5th duke’s only legitimate male child.  Was she right?

Categories

Nonfiction, history, 1800s England, legal history

Other recommended reads?

Any type of historical cold case would hit the spot, though you have to have a certain taste for the macabre to appreciate this book.

Review

I really enjoyed the first half of the book.  I was intrigued by the premise and was curious to find out whether the Druce grave really held the body.  Compelling evidence was given on both sides, though I won’t give away the conclusion.  I also liked reading about the unusual habits of the 5th duke.  This book isn’t for those who want a light read, however.  It is more legal history than anything else and you need to be prepared for chapters and chapters of details about trials, juries, judges, and testimony.  After the grave was opened, I found the rest of the book anticlimactic and was ready for it to end.  I also thought it was strange that Eatwell gave multiple postscripts to the book and left the second very open-ended.  Not a bad book but not a great one either.

Up next?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi