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Madeleine

Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

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On 13/01/2020 at 11:12 AM, Madeleine said:

Yes it was a good sub plot, especially as their temporary boss was so awful!

Yes! He was a good unlikeable character. 
 

23 hours ago, Raven said:

 

Calm down, it's just a place where steam engines were put together (they usually have large cranes in their roofs that can lift the body of the loco on and off its wheels). 

To be fair though, in the Railway Detective, murder is probably what’s happening in the erecting shed. Or the discovery of a body. Or a dramatic chase scene... 

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26 minutes ago, Hayley said:

To be fair though, in the Railway Detective, murder is probably what’s happening in the erecting shed. Or the discovery of a body. Or a dramatic chase scene... 

 

You are quite right, the body was discovered there, according to Madeleine's review!

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The House on Vesper Sands" by Paraic O’Donnell - it's London, 1893, and young working class women are going missing, reportedly taken by the Spiriters. At first, the police think this is a bizarre rumour put round, but when a young seamstress commits suicide, and yet another girl goes missing, they finally take notice, and the indomitable Inspector Cutter is put on the case. A young man, Gideon Bliss, a theology student who's been staying with his uncle in London, is looking for the missing girl, who had been staying with his uncle - Gideon had been tasked with teaching her how to read, and there was an attraction between the two. He does find her briefly, in a church in a distressed and feverish state, but he's clobbered and drugged, and when he comes round she's gone again. When Cutter mistakes him for a policeman, Gideon decides to go along with the deception and finds himself on the case, for by now his uncle is also missing, as is an Earl who owns the house where the seamstress killed herself. The Earl has another house, the titular house in Kent, and the police head down there in search of answers. Also on the case is a young journalist, Octavia, who takes it on herself to investigate the Spiriters and their link to all these disappearances. Overall I enjoyed this, I liked Octavia who managed to be more than the usual feisty Victorian young lady who won't conform to what's normally expected of her, and Gideon, although a bit of a wimp at first, does come through as the story goes on. I did feel it was a bit over-written though, and as it went on and the supernatural element took over, it started to feel a bit like a Victorian X files story! But I think there could be potential in the 3 main investigators for more adventures, although it did feel a bit rushed at the end. 7.5/10

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Murder at the Fitzwilliam by Jim Eldridge - this is the first in a new series set in late Victorian England, and is set in Cambridge's famous Fitzwilliam Museum. When an unidentified body is found in a sarcophagus in the Egyptian Room, former policeman, and now what we would call private detective/investigator, Daniel Wilson is called in. At first it's assumed to be a break in that went wrong, although how he ended up in the sarcophagus is unclear, but when one of the museum's nightwatchmen is also found murdered, it looks like the cases might be linked. Daniel is helped by archaeologist Abigail, who also wants to find out who is desecrating her beloved museum, and the museum are also keen to get the case solved, especially with the Press printing sensational stories about an escaped mummy being responsible. The case deepens when Daniel is attacked in the street, and coupled with the growing attraction between himself and Abigail (which of course both try to deny) it looks like there won't be a simple resolution any time soon. This was an enjoyable, cosy period crime read with two likeable (although I did want to shake them occasionally!) protagonists, and the two are set for more adventures, as the 5th book in the series is due out in the summer. I would like to know more about Daniel's background, he worked with Inspector Fred Abberline on the Ripper cases, and this is often referred to in the book, so hopefully a prequel might be due at some point? I'd certainly like to know more! 7.5/10

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I will probably try to pick up Murder At The Fitzwilliam and The House On Vesper Sands, they sound like fun. By the way have you read The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt?

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On ‎24‎/‎01‎/‎2020 at 6:12 PM, vodkafan said:

I will probably try to pick up Murder At The Fitzwilliam and The House On Vesper Sands, they sound like fun. By the way have you read The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt?

I have the Victoria Holt on my tbr list.  Is that set in a similar area to the fictitious Vesper Sands, which I assume (going by the book's references to shipwrecks) is in reality the Goodwin Sands?

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Yes. It's also set in the same time period. 

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"Intrigue in Covent Garden" by Susanna Gregory - this is the 13th in the Thomas Chaloner series, set in Restoration London and takes place over Christmas and January 1665/66. Chaloner, a spy, finds himself investigating several cases, the most important one being a plot which will at best cause riots and at worst might well be another attempt to take out the King (the restored Charles II) and as many of his courtiers as possible. A troupe of actors has arrived in the City and seems intent on stirring up rebellion, along with a self styled preacher Urban, who wants the protests to be peaceful but is planting more seeds of provocation amongst the ordinary people of the City, those who survived the plague, and are furious at the King for fleeing the City during the outbreak, and for living a life of debauchery and flamboyance ever since his Restoration. There's also the ongoing hostility with the Dutch, including a disastrous battle, and the mysterious sinking of a British warship whilst at anchor in London, the murder of 2 physicians, removing a Dutch spy to safety, hunting for a missing courtier's wife, and bizarrely, searching for a missing trumpet which will play an important part at the forthcoming Fast, which supposedly will commemorate and remember Charles I's execution. So Chaloner is pretty busy, and soon becomes caught up in the endless plotting and various machinations of the Court, and then a known assassin decided he wants to help him with his inquiries! This was a very convoluted plot, and it took me a while to work out who everyone was, but once I got that straight I quite enjoyed it, although it did flag a little at times and felt a bit repetitive. But it certainly got eventful, with subterfuge, explosions and a vast list of characters, most of whom, according to the author's note, really existed, so it covers a fascinating area of history too. And Chaloner is, as always, an engaging likeable character, even though sometimes he has to do some very unsavoury things. 7.5/10

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The Hunting Party" by Lucy Foley - a group of friends from London, all with good, high powered jobs - 4 couples and 1 single woman - are at a hunting lodge in a remote part of Scotland, which has now been converted into a luxury resort, the only other occupants are an Icelandic couple who are staying in a separate part of the complex, Heather who is in charge of admin/housekeeping etc, and Doug, the gamekeeper who keeps himself very much to himself and doesn't mix with anyone else unless he has to or it's work related. The Londoners all travel up by train together, and before the celebrations have even started old tensions - most of them were at Oxford together - are beginning to surface, but these are brushed off as the midnight hour approaches, and a lot of alcohol is drunk, a few drugs are taken, and before the New Year is even halfway through it's first day, one of the group is found dead in a ravine, having been reported missing earlier. It's fairly obvious that the death wasn't an accidental drunken fall, and even more obvious that the killer is someone at the Lodge. As snow falls heavily, the Lodge is cut off and although the police are informed, not even Mountain Rescue can get to the area for several hours, maybe even days, at least. So as the residents all wait, and live in fear as to who the killer is, we gradually get their back stories. We don't know the identity of the victim (although I wasn't surprised when I found out who it was, as I'd suspected all along), but in a clever twist as the climax builds, for a time it's not clear who is the killer and who is the victim. For a while I did fear it would end in one of those lurid bloodbaths so beloved of this type of book, but thankfully it didn't go that way, and all was revealed, although I did think the ending was a little rushed, although there were a couple more revelations along the way. This book has been heralded as a breath of fresh air, but personally I don't think it reinvents the country house mystery/thriller genre - the characters are all fairly stock and most of them are pretty two dimensional, apart perhaps from Heather, who does show some character development, but most of the Londoners are depicted as pretty shallow, and the gamekeeper is the classic strong silent type with A Past. But it is a enjoyable romp, and according to the author's note, a TV version is in the works, not surprisingly. 8/10

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