Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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In a Nutshell:  Mid-Victorian murder mystery, set in London.  Book 7 of a series of stand-alones.

Loved it, loved it.  When I got to 80% I found myself slowing down because I didn’t want to read it too quickly.  In this 7th book of the series, racism rears its ugly head, showing that it is far from being just a 20th and 21st century problem.  Stride and Cully must deal with a series of arson attacks on businesses, and the brutal murder of an old Italian man.

Elsewhere, socialite Juliana Silverton is thoroughly enjoying the attention received since her engagement to hedonistic rich boy Henry Haddon, her delight marred only by a secret from the past … and the appearance of Henry’s younger half-brother’s new tutor.

This book is as expertly structured as the rest of the series, and includes similarly colourful characters and the ever-present chasm between rich and poor, so much a theme in all the books – and in certain areas of life nothing has changed; young aristocrats with powerful connections are able to get away with the most heinous of crimes, just as they always have been and are now.

Although illustrating society’s problems in the most deft way, Ms Hedges does not fall into the cliché of making all the privileged characters the ‘bad guys’; I was pleased to see a happy outcome for one, in particular.  I guessed the perpetrators of the crimes quite early on, but this didn’t matter a jot; the joy of reading these books is the writing itself, the vivid pictures of 1860s London, and the slow unfolding of sub-plots.

I can’t help but think of what star rating I will give a book while I am reading it, and this was a solid 5* all the way through, but what earned it my extra ‘gold’ star was the end twist that I never saw coming.  It was beautifully executed, and made me smile as I realised how other aspects were explained by it.

If you haven’t read any of these books, I recommend you start now – and I hope this is not the end of the series….

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been redaing Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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My Review: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the biggest problems for authors of a detective series is moving a story forward, allowing your detective and cast to evolve, but still retain the world you’ve built. In Book 7 of her Victorian Detective series, Intrigue & Infamy, author Carol Hedges gives a master class in just that.

Detective Inspector Leo Stride, protagonist of the early books, is now trapped in an administrative role, the victim of his own success. “Detective Inspector Stride is a long-standing officer, now reduced to an officer of long sitting.” The only mystery now facing Stride is how a certain green folder documenting thefts of barnyard animals keeps ending up on his desk, the only conflict his longstanding skirmishes in the neverending war with journalism in general and reporter Richard Dandy in particular.

It is Stride’s colleagues at the Metropolitan Police—later known as Scotland Yard—Detective Sergeant Jack Cully and Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg who take on the real crimes facing the Detective Division. At the same time, the detectives are dealing with very real issues in their personal lives—Cully as a sleep-deprived young father, and Grieg, a newly-minted Detective Inspector whose courtship is dramatically different from the minutely-planned society alliances.

At the same time, the hallmarks of the earlier books provide the bones of the new one. As before, author Carol Hedges employs the tropes of Dickens, but avoids the wordy sentimentality of the original. Still present are the myriad of twisting plots so beloved by Dickens, that have Cully and Grieg investigating murder, assault, burglary, and pure bloody-mindedness.

Side-by-side with these are the social observations so often central to Dickens. The upper classes’ pursuit of each other’s wealth via the London Season and its attendant Marriage Mart, the political realities that make “justice” into very different things depending on social caste, the barely concealed racism and misogyny bubbling beneath the surface—all are described in a way that acknowledges their ongoing existence and echoes our disturbingly-similar present.

‘I thought we’d consigned this sort of thing to history,’ Stride says disgustedly.

‘Ah well, maybe history isn’t just something that is behind us; it also follows us,’ Grieg says thoughtfully.

There are also flashes of humor which echo Dickens at his very best, but also the sharp dry wit of Jane Austen at her most socially sarcastic:

  • Beautiful young debutants working tirelessly at their assigned role of achieving a socially advantageous marriage observe the lessons of one wrong step. Choose the wrong partner? “As far as anyone knows, poor Rosamund is now a governess in some faraway barbaric location. Possibly Yorkshire.”
  • Senior officers at the fledgling Metropolitan Police optimistically trying  to professionalize the young police force? “It is from one of the night constables, for whom spelling and punctuation are optional extras.”
  • Following clues in depths of London? “The Rat & Bottle is the sort of low dive that gives low dives a bad name…It is the sort of pub where nobody will know your name because frankly, they can’t be bothered to ask it.”
  • Romance for young girl? Juliana—“Tonight Juliana is absolutely and quite deliberately irresistible.”
  • Romance for young man? Harry—“It is hard work living up to everybody’s expectations, though admittedly, the expectations of his father are so low he probably couldn’t even crawl under them, let alone live up to them.”
  • Young love? “The guests look on fondly, because young love, even if it has been planned and carried out like a military manoeuvre, is still delightful to witness.”
  • Society? (My personal favorite as it deliberately echoes the traditional marriage service, evoking the force of divine providence into the pursuit of ensuring social position, power, land, and especially keeping all that lovely money in the family.)

A ball, as everybody knows, is like a marriage. It should never be entered into lightly or frivolously, but soberly and reverently, considering the purposes for which a ball is intended. Firstly, it is intended to show off the finery and figures of single young women, thus indicating that they are available for suitable alliances with single young men. Secondly, it is for the mutual encouragement of the Mamas of the single young women, whose one desire is their happily married future. And thirdly it is to ensure the papas of the single young women dispense as much money as is necessary to show off the finery and figures, and secure the happy marriage.

 

Carol Hedges’ intricate plots show off a deep knowledge of London, both past and present. But she also conveys a love of her city so tangible, London itself emerges as a main character—beautiful, terrible, flawed, and wonderful.

It is a clear night, the vast scoop of velvet black sky full of pin-bright sars. The air smells of damp and soot and horse shit, the familiar London smells. Cully walks the silent streets in search of the nearest post box, while the Sleeping beauty city murmurs and shifts, mutters and groans, waiting for the rough kiss of dawn to wake her and the jingling clattering morning carts to fill her streets once more.

At the risk of spoilers, I have to say one of my favorite parts of Intrigue & Infamy is the inspired ending. When the flexing of powerful society muscles threatens to allow a murderer to walk free despite the brilliant detective work of Cully and Grieg, Detective Inspector Leo Stride takes completely unprecedented action. I wanted to stand up and cheer.

This continues to be one of my favorite series. Not only does the writing contain a degree of clarity that—for me anyway!—sets it well above the Dickens it channels, but the subtle humor, social commentary, character growth, and clearly salutary references to current events in both the US and UK makes Intrigue & Infamy a must-read even as a stand alone. But do yourself a huge favor: if you haven’t read the earlier books, now is your chance to enter a wonderful, funny, thoughtful, and above all beautifully written world. You’re so lucky!

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery INTRIGUE & INFAMY by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Intrigue & Infamy by Carol J Hedges

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Trouble is brewing in the capital as the London Season nears its end. Detective Sergeant Jack Cully and Detective Inspector Lachlan Greig are investigating an outbreak of vandalism attacks on businesses owned by anyone classed as an immigrant. One such arson attack results in a death, soon to be declared a murder. And while Cully and Greig are out and about Detective Inspector Leo Stride, much to his dismay, is stuck at his desk with a mountain of paperwork in front of him.

Elsewhere, in a very upmarket area of the city, Miss Juliana Silverton has secured an excellent catch in the form of young, handsome (and sole heir to his father’s fortune) Harry Haddon, who proposed to her the previous evening. Their engagement will soon be announced in The Times. But if a past indiscretion becomes public knowledge all will be lost.

[Quote] For Fiona Blythe, the engagement of Juliana Silverton means that she alone of their little set is un-matched at the end of the Season. There is also another reason for her discontent, which she cannot divulge to anybody, as it consists of certain embarrassing incidents involving her attempts to attract the man who has now plighted his troth to Juliana. [End Quote]

Also added into the mix is Angelo Bellini, who has travelled from Italy to take up his position as the new tutor for Lord and Lady Haddon’s young son, Danny. Former MP Lord Haddon determines to make sure Danny doesn’t end up like his feckless step brother. However, all is not quite as it seems with Señor Bellini.

The characters are drawn so well that there’s an immediate mental image and sense of their personalities. One aspect I really enjoy about a series is the development and growth of existing characters. The divide between the well to do and the poorer element is detailed in all its grimness, with the evocatively described city of London as the backdrop where prejudice, bullying and cruelty isn’t just confined to the lower classes. There is an appreciable understanding of life at that time, across all levels of society.

I’ve been looking forward to a new mystery with Stride, Cully and Greig, and Intrigue & Infamy certainly doesn’t disappoint. Carol Hedges masterfully weaves several story threads together with engaging, witty, present tense prose, keeping the reader immersed in the story and creating an atmospheric and vividly depicted visit to 19th century London with its colourful inhabitants.

Book description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Intrigue

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery Tom Wasp And The Seven Deadly Sins by @AmyMyers15 @EndeavourQuill #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Jessie, she blogs here https://behindthewillows.com

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading Tom Wasp And The Seven Deadly Sins by Amy Myers

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A Victorian London murder mystery being solved by a chimney sweep?

You have my attention!

And once my attention was captured, this book kept it!

The characters were rich enough that I thought in the back of my mind that this must not be the first of the Tom Wasp books (Great news, it isn’t!) but wholly contained enough that I didn’t feel I was missing anything. The chimney sweep lifestyle and idioms were so well done I went out and found another book on chimney sweeps just so I could learn more. And the mystery was different enough to keep me flipping pages past bedtime.

Would I recommend it? A page turner that sent me to the library looking for more on the subject? Oh, and did I mention that it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion? Really, what’s not to love?

Just in case it was unclear the answer to all those questions is, “Yes, get the book!” (Though perhaps you should start with the first one, it wasn’t necessary but it is definitely now on my “to read” list!)

Book description

Tom Wasp scrapes a living as a chimney sweep, aided by his young assistant, Ned. While the gap between rich and poor is unmistakable in Victorian London, Tom carves out a happy enough life and has plenty of friends, including Clara, the comely landlady of Dolly’s Chop House.

So when one of Clara’s patrons is found murdered on her premises, Tom is quick to help, calling on his connections in the police force. Soon it becomes clear that Mr Harcourt’s murder is not merely due to his philandering ways, but is part of something much more literary…

Who are the Tarton Ordinaries and how are they linked to the death at Dolly’s? Who really owns the mystery manuscript? And why are Tom’s friend Phineas and Clara’s beautiful daughter Hetty involved?

It is up to Tom to find out what links an obscure Elizabethan actor with a slew of nineteenth century deaths in this absorbing and whimsical whodunit.

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