Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: 2009 H/F - #6 - Historical Mystery

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: 2009 H/F - #6 - Historical Mystery
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

6. Solve a crime! Read one Historical Mystery.



Last Edited on: 1/13/09 8:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/18/2009 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,298
Back To Top

"The Poison Maiden" by Paul Doherty. Wow, what a mystery! This author makes you feel like you really are on the streets of England during the reign of Edward ll. Civil war threatens; the Lords are up in arms because of the kings "favourite" Gaveston and want him tried for treason; and someone is killing people even on the palace grounds. Louis lV is suspected of sending in the Poison Maiden to cause more discord. There is a lot going on in this book and it really kept my attention. The prologue is a little confusing (I had to go back and reread it when I was finished), but then the book gets going and it's very good!

(Now I'm going to shift my attention to the Mystery challenge and give this one a rest for a while.)

Date Posted: 1/27/2009 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
Back To Top

I read Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor: Being the First Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron - it a story about Jane Austen going to a friend's manor house and getting involved in solving the mystery of the murder of her (the friend) husband.

 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/27/2009 6:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
Back To Top

I have Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor on my shelf waiting to be read for one of my choices in the mystery challenge. 

I am reading Poe's Shadow by Matthew Pearl for this challenge. It is about a lawyer who takes it upon himself to investigate the death of Edgar Allan Poe, when nobody but him seems to care that the man is dead. It is ok, so far. Not as enthralling as Pearl's previous novel The Dante Club.

ETA: I finished Poe's Shadow. I had a really hard time getting into it.



Last Edited on: 2/3/09 10:59 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/7/2009 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
Back To Top

I read Clea's Moon by Edward Knight. It takes place in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and the protagonist is a former B-movie cowboy who's just gotten out of prison. Meticulously researched, and really well-written!

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 9:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
Back To Top

I read Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda which is set in colonial Africa (Kenya) following WWI.  Utterly fascinating - I loved the descriptions of the country.  I picked up the second book in the series (Stalking Ivory) from the library this weekend.

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 9:29 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,298
Back To Top

Hi Marci! I read the write up on The Mark of the Lion and that really does sound good. Thanks for the thumbs up on it. If I ever, ever, get my packing done, I'm going to read that book!!!!

Subject: Badger's Moon, Peter Tremayne
Date Posted: 3/7/2009 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

Thanks to everyone who helped me find a new author for this challenge (see my "medieval" mysteries post).

As someone pointed out, this series is not really medieval since it is set in Ireland around 600 A.D.  This is my first experience with both this series and this general type of historical mystery.  I had no problems reading it but there wasn't much character depth especially in her husband.  Sister Fidelma is multi-faceted but her partner is almost a near-comic Watson in this book.  It's not the first book in the series and perhaps it would have been better to have started there, but there seemed to be enough explanation.  I enjoyed the book and the details about early Ireland;  I'm undecided as to whether I'll continue with the series  (so many book, you know!).  I really didn't care for the trick of ending the book with a cliff-hanger!

Date Posted: 3/16/2009 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,393
Back To Top

For this challenge I chose Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn.  Having already read the first two books in this series, I was looking forward to the publication of book three, and it did not disappoint.  I love Lady Julia's quirky family, esp. Portia who makes the trip to the Yorkshire Moors with Julia, their maids, and their pets.  Such fun.  The dialog between Portia and Julia; and of course the lively repartee between Julia and the wonderful, enigmatic Brisbane add to the total enjoyment of these mysteries.  Highly recommended.

Linda

 



Last Edited on: 3/16/09 9:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/18/2009 10:53 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,456
Back To Top

I finished A Plague of Poison by Maureen Ash last evening.  This was my favorite of her 3 books about the Templar Knight  "detective", Bascot de Marins.  The book does pretty well as a stand alone story as the series isn't very far advanced yet.  I often have trouble getting into a mystery series if I come in at the middle or end of the set.  I would recommend this to any fan of good medieval whodunnits.

Date Posted: 3/26/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
Back To Top

For this challenge, I read the second book in Deanna Raybourn's Victorian mystery series, Silent in the Sanctuary. The story revolves around Lady Julia Grey's visit to her family's estate for Christmas, during which she encounters murder, poisoning, the theft of her pearls and a ghost. I posted a review on my blog: http://scalingmounttbr.blogspot.com/2009/03/silent-in-sanctuary-by-deanna-raybourn.html

I recommend this series for fans of mysteries & the Victorian era. A hint of romance is thrown in, but it advances the stories rather than overwhelming them. The first book is Silent in the Grave. I've started reading the third book, Silent on the Moor. (Linda, I'm happy to hear the new book is also good.)

Date Posted: 4/1/2009 8:12 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,393
Back To Top

(How nice that my post neatly follows Felicia's and I can basically say "see above," because I agree with her comments about the wonderful Victorian mystery series by Deanna Raybourn.)

I read the 3rd book in the series for this challenge - Silent on the Moor - and it was wonderful. I think this is my favorite of the three. The setting and the secondary characters were a bit more interesting and maybe a bit more well developed than the other two books. Also the main mystery and the secondary behind-the-scenes; what-are-you-up-to storylines were sophisticated and well-developed.

Dialog is so fun! To paraphrase one example: this is a very dramatic scene, critical pieces of the puzzle are being revealed, it is a very dark & stormy night, and the cook (aptly named Mrs. Butters) says something along the lines of "the Devil takes care of his own, the Scriptures tell us." Portia (Lady Julia's sister) covers a gasp with a little cough, leans over to her sister and murmers, "I thought that was William Shakespeare."

Now if that doesn't strike you as funny and clever, the fault is my own, not Ms. Raybourn's. Her writing is so vivid and so natural that the reader is right there in each of the scenes and Portia's comment nicely punctures a small hole in the tension of the room and adds an extra element that is sometimes missing from other books.

Enough. Suffice to say that I, along with so many others, highly recommend this series!

Kelly



Last Edited on: 4/1/09 9:06 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/1/2009 12:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
Back To Top

I also wrote a review of Silent on the Moor for my blog if anyone is interested in reading it: http://scalingmounttbr.blogspot.com/2009/03/silent-on-moor-by-deanna-raybourn.html

I also thought it was the best of the three.

Date Posted: 4/1/2009 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
Back To Top

Thanks for the reviews on the Silent series - I've WL'd all of them based on your recommendation.

Subject: Challenge Complete!
Date Posted: 4/12/2009 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
Back To Top

I finished Mistress of the Art of Death last night, so I can cross this one off the list!  What a great book!  I had initially planned on reading In The Name of the Rose for this challenge, but I had to read MOTAOD because it seems to be a favorite around here and the book was sitting on my shelf totally calling for me to read it.  I can see what the fuss is about.  A thoroughly engaging, enjoyable read!

Date Posted: 4/22/2009 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
Back To Top

Ladies, I just last night finished my Mystery---I'd chosen Possession by AS Byatt; I wasn't really sure what to expect as historical mysteries aren't generally what I reach for (which is one of the beauties of this challenge, to stretch ones normal inclinations).  What a lovely, literary piece of art! I was so pleasantly surprised.

The book starts slowly, in fact, so slowly that I was having trouble getting into it....but then it takes off like a delicate rocket! It's the story of two historical researches, both experts on certain Victorian era poets. One of them finds an old, faded draft of what is clearly a love letter in an old manuscript. Given that the poet whose manuscript in which this draft love letter was found is widely thought to have been happily married for 40 years, this prompts no small level of curiosity on the part of the finder...and his careful unraveling of very subtle clues and following of where the trail leads, leads him both to the other researcher as well as the answer to the mystery. Just delightful!  I recommend it.



Last Edited on: 4/22/09 9:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/22/2009 11:19 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,393
Back To Top

Wow! A great write-up, Colleen ... and another one for the every growing list. How did you come across this book? Have you read the author before?

Thanks, Kelly

 

Date Posted: 5/31/2009 2:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

For this challege I also read Mistress of the Art of Death.  I had heard such wonderful things about this book and really looked forward to reading it.  However, I don't know if it was the author's writing style (felt jumpy to me), the fact the mystery isn't a genre I'm very familiar with, the fact that I've been sick all week, or a combination of all three, but I was a little bit disappointed in this story.  Don't get me wrong, the story itself was captivating and I enjoyed going along for the ride, but to me it didn't live up to the hype that I heard about it (again, probably going to chalk it up mainly to being sick and feeling crabby this week because I'm not liking anything at the moment! :-P)

Date Posted: 6/3/2009 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
Back To Top

I hope you don't mind my doing this but since I used mysteries to fulfill several challenges, I thought it might be more useful to post those ones here.

I was stuck for a "Murder" title and found that Edward Marston had written a short series of mysteries under the pen name of Conrad Allen.  These are not technically HF, but each is set on one of the famous ocean liners.  I read that Murder on the Minnesota is the best of them, but since Murder on the Lusitania was the one I could get most easily, that's what I read.  It seems like those ocean liners would be an excellent setting for more historical fiction.

This was the first book in the series so perhaps some of the others do get better.  I enjoyed the details about the ocean liner but the characters seemed off (for good reason).  Still, I found it a readable book and it was an interesting time period with foreshadowing of WW I.

For the new author, I read David Dickinson and received two of his books as rentals:  Good Night, Sweet Prince and Death and the Jubilee. Good Night is the first in the series and I think I am missing at least one in the middle.  I've decided that I enjoy this author.  In the first book, his premise is that the death of Prince "Eddy" (Albert Victor Clarence Edward) was not from influenza as reported but was actually a murder.  Dickinson did a fairly good job of this, assembling his storyline from contempory rumors about the Prince's habits.  (And you know they'd cover up the death of a Prince in embarrassing circumstances, don't you?)

Several years have passed between the first book and Death and the Jubilee.  This one could have been a bit shorter but it was still enjoyable and I could forgive Dickinson's making Lord Francis a very unlikely Victorian father.  One quibble -  I am getting a little tired of so many books that end with the movie equivalent of the couples together and the fadeout. Perhaps it will explain another child in the next book? ;-)  (Oh, the plot is about foiling attempts to disrupt Queen Victoria's Jubilee and involve the Germans and the Irish and a great deal about the banking systems at the time.)

ETA:  It looks like Death and the Jubilee is the 2nd book.  The third has excellent reviews.



Last Edited on: 6/5/09 11:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/27/2009 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 924
Back To Top

I, like several others, read Mistress of the Art of Death for this challenge. I really liked it. :)

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
Back To Top

Katy - I'm glad you enjoyed Mistress of the Art of Death.  It's a great book! I'm currently reading the second book in the series, The Serpant's Tale, and even though I'm only 130 pages into it, I'd recommend it. 

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 924
Back To Top

Shelley, I'm glad to hear that--I was planning to pick up that book sometime (it's on my wishlist). :)

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 10:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,599
Back To Top

Ok, I can't believe I haven't posted in this thread yet! Historical mysteries are my favorite genre, ever....I have been lax!

The book I'd specifically chosen for this was Solace for a Sinner by Caroline Roe, which I read months ago. It's a middle book in a series set in 1350's Girona, Spain featuring a blind Jewish physican named Isaac and his family. I've quite enjoyed the series so far and have several others to finish it up.

I'm glad you guys mentioned Mistress of the Art of Death, loved that book and have been "meaning to" get to the next one in the series soon. Thanks for the reminder! I see several other series mentioned that I'm in the midst of too--Maureen Ash's, Deanna Raybourn's, and Peter Tremayne has ever been a favorite of mine.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 8/1/2009 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
Back To Top

I read An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, which has received rave reviews by many on this sight.  Although it took me awhile to get through, I enjoyed it very much!  It is so well written, and I had no idea how it would end right up until the end.

Date Posted: 8/1/2009 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
Back To Top

Michelle - I'm glad you liked it.  Yeah, it's not a quick or easy read, but I found it so compelling and totally awesome!