Revenge in a Cold River by Anne Perry. I started reading Perry's historical mysteries some twenty years ago. I enjoyed the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels first, but after reading The Face of a Stranger, the first William Monk novel, I was completely hooked.
A little background (although I think each novel works well as a stand alone): In 1856 William Monk was seriously injured in a carriage accident and has no memory of his life before the accident. He has managed, with the help of the estimable Hester Latterly, to resume his career and to keep his lack of memory a secret from almost everyone.
In Revenge in a Cold River, Monk begins to realize that his nemesis--customs officer McNabb--has finally realized that Monk has no memory of events before 1856 and intends to destroy him. Finally, the fans of this series discover why McNabb hates Monk and are given a glimpse of Monk's background as a young man.
As usual, Perry's period depictions are detailed, the suspense is palpable, and her characters flawed and imperfect, but often courageous. Familiar characters populate the novel, and we learn more about Beata York, the woman Oliver Rathbone loves. I've been curious about her and was happy to see Beata has more to offer. Hester takes a smaller role in Revenge, but her dedicated and independent nature is, as always, of primary support to Monk.
I'm really not certain which books I like better--those that feature Monk or those that feature Hester. Perry's switching the lead protagonist keeps the series interesting and allows her to focus on different elements of the Victorian period.
(Amazon is offering a bundle of the first three books in the series, and if you relish good Victorian novels--this is a bargain.)
Historic Mystery. Sept. 6, 2016. Print length: 320 pages.
Assassins by Jim Eldridge. "The first of a new mystery series featuring Winston Churchill and King George V: an intriguing departure for bestselling children's author Jim Eldridge. "
I enjoyed this first installment of a new series featuring DCI Paul Stark and set in the early 1920's. Churchill, always controversial, is presented with both his flaws and his strengths, and I liked the way Stark's initial dislike of Churchill alters as the book progresses even as he continues to view him honestly.
Eldridge includes some of the most difficult issues faced by the British Government during the time: debt, unemployment and the demobilization of soldiers following WWI, the problem of Irish Home Rule, women's suffrage (only women over 30 who owned property were given the vote in 1918, so the issue was still active), socialism, etc.
The most interesting part for me, however, is the role played by secondary characters like Michael Collins. I knew Collins was associated with Sinn Fein and the struggle for Irish Independence, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Even though his role in the novel isn't large, his personality and appeal are obvious. I wanted to know more and did some online research--Collins and Eamon de Valera are part of a fascinating era of history. (Now, I want to see the 1996 film Michael Collins with Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman.)
A good mystery and a series I will follow.
Historic Mystery. Oct. 1, 2016. Print length: 256 pages.
I will mention both of these books again closer to publication.